About Puppy Socialisation

Posted Monday, 12 January 2015

Puppy Parties

Puppy parties should only be run for puppies the same age, that is from approx 8 weeks to 12 weeks. By the time puppies are meeting other adult dogs a puppy party is no longer appropriate as play styles are different and the new pupies can really struggle in this environment. This is when puppy classes become really important. Do ask your vet/trainer how old the oldest puppy will be and whether or not they have their puppies on or off lead during the parties.

Attendance to a puppy party should be followed up with a properly run puppy socialisation and training course by an accredited instructor.

So many new dog trainers decide to start off with puppies. In fact they should be starting off with older dogs as so much damage can be done when running a puppy class if the instructor is inexperienced.

This is where great dogs can be made or where damaged dogs can be made!

Due to the fact that puppies have a second sensitive period at about the age of 6 months, it is very important to continue with structured socialisation and training classes until after this period. It is known that structured socialisation needs to be maintained for at least a year or until the dog is considered adult (in some cases this is two years). However, once you have attended a puppy course and perhaps a couple more courses you will have let your puppy meet a wide variety of different breeds of puppy and should really know what it is that you are looking for and understand the body language etc of your own dog and those of some other breeds which will equip you with the knowledge necessary to keep your puppy out of trouble with other dogs.

There is a reason that there is so much dog on dog aggression about these days!!! This is because dogs are not properly socialised with other dogs!! It is a big problem which can easily be avoided by attending puppy classes which will help you to learn how to manage your dog when out and about on walks and give your puppy safe and structured socialisation.

People often tell me that they don't feel they need to attend puppy classes as they can socialise ther puppy at the local dog park! This is the worst place to socialise your puppy! Can I just say that as a dog behaviourist I took Lily (my dalmatian puppy) to my puppy classes (three different sets) and at age 2.5 years I still take her to training classes. This is because in the dog parks we meet many unsocialised aggressive dogs which can affect how your puppy perceives other dogs! Lily has been beaten up by other dogs many times in the local dog park (most not deserved, one or two she did deserve). Thank goodness I can take her to classes so that she can meet nice dogs! Anyone who truly knows and understands dogs sees the need to attend puppy classes.

In today's environment it may seem that the cost of a puppy class could be avoided but in my case load I see so many dog aggressive dogs which did not attend puppy classes (or attended crowded and uncontrolled puppy classes run by enthusiasts) because the owner felt they would get enough socialisation with another resident dog or at the local dog park. It is exactly this kind of poor socialisation that leads to dogs becoming aggressive towards other dogs. It is more expensive in the long run if you then have to have behaviour counselling, or if you are sued because your dog has caused harm to someone. Think about a leaky tap. Do you fix it? Or do you leave it until it causes water damage?

And then you find out when you get your water bill that you have been wasting gallons of water a day for 6 months and it has cost a small fortune!

Don't regret a decision later, at least try a 6 week puppy course to make a good start!