Walk and Learn
What is Puppy Socialisation?
Puppy Socialisation is a way to teach your puppy how to interact with humans, dogs and the different species they are likely to meet. They may need to share our home with other animals or be walked in areas where livestock graze, or pass horses. We need to help them learn how to recognise and interact with others, so they know what’s safe and when they should steer clear.
We also need to habituate them, this is getting them used to different environments, letting them experience various habitats, listen to sounds, show them objects that may be everyday things to us, but can be quite scary for a young puppy. Let them sniff and take in all the different scents.
A breeder should start this discovery journey at about 3 weeks old, so ideally when your puppy comes to live with you, he has been introduced to plenty of people, men, women, children. He will have littermates (as long as he is not an only pup) and may have experienced other animals in the breeders home. This scenario is ideal, but unfortunately some puppies are not lucky enough to have this experience and can be brought up in a kennel, with little human interaction.
Puppy Socialisation is not about overloading our puppy with meeting other dogs. It is about our puppy having positive interactions with some of the dogs he meets, but he does not have to play or interact with every dog. Before our puppy is vaccinated we can take him outside in the garden, as long as it is not a public space where other dogs go. He can explore the different textures on the ground and smell the plants. You can take him out, as long as you carry him, to experience some life. Sitting in the park and letting him see other dogs at a distance can be a good way of starting the exposure. It is also good to carry your puppy to watch traffic go by, let him meet passers by, take him to visit your friends house or a trip to the vet. Make these outings short and gradually build on their experience.
The walk and learn programme is to help your puppy meet other dogs and humans in a structured, outdoor environment. They will come across scents that they may not be used to and see dogs and people they’ve not met before. You will learn how to look at your puppy’s body language, to understand when he is feeling happy and relaxed in a situation and when he feels uncomfortable. Alongside this, you will be shown how to teach your puppy some simple behaviours, that will help him, and you will be able to build on in the future. A puppy needs to learn how to fit in to a human household and interact with others, they are not born knowing, you can be their greatest teacher.
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