Puppy Parties

Socialisation during the critical period



Unique puppy party service run by registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist, Denise Nuttall.

We offer half hour pre full vaccination puppy socialisation classes (select from the CLASSES drop down menu above) on a per session basis between the ages of 8-12 weeks old.  Pups must have had the first vaccination to attend and you must bring evidence of this please. If you choose to have Kennel Cough vaccination (which is a live vaccine) you must not mix your pup with other dogs for at least one week afterwards due to the risk that they can pass on Kennel Cough to others even if they have no symptoms. So you cannot attend puppy party if your pup has had the KC vaccine less than a week beforehand. For more info please read below.

Easily reached from Broadstone, Bearwood, West Moors, Verwood, Creekmore, Poole, Sandbanks, Lilliput, Oakdale, Ferndown, Wimborne, Colehill, Ringwood, Fordingbridge, Three Legged Cross, Alderholt, Blandford, Christchurch. 

We cover the floor with tarpaulin, wash down the tarpaulin and floor with Anistel (a veterinary approved animal surfectant) and  provide surgical slippers for clients to put on as they enter the venue. All we require is that your pup has seen the vet for its first vaccination and your vet confirms that your puppy is healthy.This environment is very hygienic.

Did you know that there is evidence that puppies which are properly socialised between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks are more likely to remain in their homes long term? (Reference study - Evaluation of association between retention in the home and attendance at puppy socialization classes. Duxbury et al (2003) Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association). Also, temperament tests, such as the Volhard puppy temperament test, do not guarantee that the puppy will continue to develop in the way seen as a puppy. It is a mix of genes (nature) and the environment (nurture) such as early socialisation and training which make great dogs!

Puppy Parties provided under the guidance of Denise Nuttall qualified dog behaviourist B.Sc (Hons), M.Res, full member APBC, full member TCBTS,  Member APDT 00963. Denise has lectured on the subject of running behaviourally aware puppy parties at The Lynwood Veteriary Nursing School in Dorchester and Learning About Animals at Guildford. She is also resident dog expert at BbC Radio Solent, where she answers your questions live on air.These puppy life skills sessions are only for puppies 8 to 12 weeks old (or younger if necessary), or slightly older puppies which are late with their vaccinations and are not mixing with other dogs. Once puppies are mixing with other dogs it is no longer appropriate that they mix with puppies which have never been out as they become much bolder and are likely to intimidate those which have not been out. This is the time to attend full puppy classes for those puppies over 12 weeks old.


Example of why puppy parties with us are so useful

In this video you will see a 9 week old working cocker spaniel and an 11 week old beagle meeting. Watch the video before reading the rest!

 To the casual observer everything looks OK doesn't it?

However to the trained eye the observer will note that the cocker spaniel freezes slightly. He becomes very still and blatantly is not looking at the beagle whilst the beagle is sniffing him. This stillness indicates he is not comfortable. Looking away indicates he would rather not have her in his space and it is an appeasement signal to the beagle. Not looking at her will avoid the possibility of confrontation.  This was the cocker's first session and the beagle's second session, the beagle is more confident. However, note that when the beagle walks away, she shakes off. This indicates she was aware that all was not right and as she walks away her adrenaline levels subside leading her to shake off as she starts to feel more relaxed away from a dog which is indicating he is uncomfortable.

If you did not see this when you watched the video, then you really should come to our classes to learn how to "read" dog. This knowledge can prevent aggressive incidents.

Some vets run puppy parties. However, due to the risk of infection in vet clinics most cannot offer this service until 10 days after the first vaccination but this leaves socialisation too late. Since the canine socialisation period is finished by 12 weeks and puppies come away from the mother at about 8 weeks puppies are missing 1/3 of their canine socialisation during the critical period. Some vets cannot always accommodate the numbers in which case we can act as an overflow for them so that you don’t have to miss this early period. At times it may be that there are too few puppies on a vets books to warrant a puppy party in which case they can refer you to us. Maybe your vet doesn’t have space or available staff to run puppy parties. Or it may be that you have a particularly sensitive puppy which you feel would benefit from our behavioural support. We can help with those puppies which are already showing aggression and teach them and you, their owner, calming techniques thus reducing the stress which so often results in aggression. It is NOT our aim to replace puppy parties at vets and we deliver personalised support depending on your experiences and your puppy's personality which differs from that experienced at other puppy parties. Many clients will want to attend a vet puppy party and our Puppy Life Skills course to increase socialisation opportunity and to make an earlier start. Positive experiences at vets are vital for puppies to learn to enjoy visits to the vet and you will learn useful health related information at your vet.

Benefits of Puppy Life Skills with restricted age groups

  • The canine socialisation period ends at 12 weeks. Most puppies are taken on at 8 weeks and then miss 1/3rd of the total canine socialisation period. This is one of the main reasons that dog on dog aggression is an increasing problem.

  • 8 weeks is the beginning of the most sensitive period in puppy emotional development. This stage must be sensitively handled otherwise puppies quickly learn to become fearful/aggressive/anxious or defensive. Gentle and controlled exposure to other puppies at this time is important.

  • Despite greater availability of early socialisation through puppy parties and puppy classes dog on dog aggression is a growing problem. Many people try to invite other adult dogs into their homes to meet their puppy without knowing what proper socialisation looks like. In our experience this can lead to either a lack of confidence with other dogs, frustrated greeting behaviours or over confidence and bullyish play. All of which can lead to aggression. There is an increase in pet shop puppy parties with mixed ages which are not necessarily well controlled which can lead to later development of fear aggression. Avoidance is an early warning indicator.

  • Many puppies which attend mixed age puppy classes/parties get quickly out of their depth due to the varying confidence levels in the group. This is especially true if puppies are off lead and allowed to play without proper supervision and control. At an early age the damage can be permanent.

  • The puppy period is so sensitive it is now widely acknowledged how important it is that early puppy socialisation is handled by behavioural experts who understand the sophisticated body language of a wide variety of breeds plus understand learning theory and critical periods etc. Poor experiences with other dogs/people as a puppy can and does lead to puppies developing aggression. Often this will look like submission in a puppy which most do not worry about. However, by the time the dog matures submission can transform into aggression.

You will learn a wide variety of extremely useful and important techniques so that your puppy can have the benefit of being understood from the earliest possible age. We cover all the major questions which people have from clipping claws to play biting, sleep problems, and coping techniques for you to use until your puppy can go out. We also cover essential information at this early stage so that separation anxiety can be prevented. With our vast experience of working with people and puppies/dogs we have developed this to cover all your questions and to help to make sure that your puppy gets the VERY BEST start in life. All for a cost of just £10.00 per session! The classes are held on Saturday mornings at Ferndown Village hall. Early booking even before you collect your puppy is essential due to the small window for these classes and the high demand. There will only be a maximum of 6/7 puppies in the class.