Puppy Socialisation – 5 Home Training and Grooming Tips for Your New Puppy During Lockdown

Lots of people have new puppies at this time, and it can be overwhelming. Even more so when the usual supports are restricted like groomers and dog training centres. Your Local Vets are open for all essential routine care, emergency treatments and advice. Here are 5 tips about what you need to be doing with your new puppy at home to make sure they grow into a well adjusted happy adult, who is happy and is safe to be around people.

1) Understand What Socialisation Is

People think of socialisation as something that us humans do, or rather , used to do, over a meal or a few drinks etc. And often new dog owners translate this to mean socialisation is my dog meeting other dogs in the park etc.

However this is not the case!! Socialisation is a word for getting dogs used to all kinds of situations, noises, smells, experiences, in a positive way. Positive means enjoyable for the pup and in practical terms this means tthe puppies owner makes sure the experience is short, not overwhelming, fun , treats are involved and there is an option for the puppy to back away if they do not like it . Up to the age of 14 weeks puppies are more curious than afraid and after 14 weeks that changes to fear being the dominant emotion to new experience. That is why this time of having a puppy is so important is and is called the socialisation window.

2) Why Socialise? – Knowing What a Fearful Dog Looks Like

A well socialised puppy is a puppy that is not afraid as it grows up. Have you ever seen a dog that barks at everything and everybody while out on the lead? This is due to inadequate socialisation during the critical window. A dog that barks at everything, jumps on other dogs and people as they go past,goes crazy when the doorbell rings, or chews up the place when left alone is not a happy dog, this is an anxious and fearful dog that does not know how to interact with the world around him. This is not a training problem it is a socialisation problem. If your dog is acting out of fear, they cannot be trained to overrride this fear or bury it.

3) Grooming

Lots of our current puppies are crossbreed with poodles and bichon breeds.This gives them the advantage that they shed less or not at all. However the other side of this is that the hair continues to grow but it is not shed so it must be taken away regularly by a professional. Regularly is every 6 to 8 weeks. It is really important that your dog has a positive experience at the groomers as early as possible. Ask for a mini or puppy or introductory grooming experience for your pup. Do not wait for 6 to 8 months when there is a big job to do and your dog has never experienced the grooming salon ever before.

4) Meeting Other Dogs

This is very difficult as the usual controlled environments are not open for puppy classes. When you are out on a walk, avoid dogs that bark or jump at your dog. This will mean your dog is afraid or else will learn this inappropirate behaviour. Rather set up play dates with regular friends and watch them carefully , making sure to allow your puppy to escape and rest if they are getting overtired or moving away. It is not necessary for dogs to greet every single dog on a walk and if they do greet a well behaved dog on the lead, it should be limited to 3 seconds and then move on. Being on the lead is a stressful way for dogs to meet each other as their escape options are limited.

5) Other examples and Resources

Examples of things to make sure your puppy experiences include:, , a person with a loud voice, babies, toddlers, older children, wheelchairs, lawnmowers, being alone, travelling in the car, people coming to the door, different surfaces to walk on, having their mouth handled , being brushed, having their nails clipped, visiting the vets, visiting the groomers, fireworks and loud noises (played on your phone). Remember that a dogs mind is very specific. This means to a dog, a baby is an entirely different creature to a toddler for example, so each type of person needs to be shown to the dog in a positive way. We assume dogs will know that a baby is just a smaller version of their child at home, but they cannot know that.

Seasonal Issues: Often we find that summer born puppies are more likely to have issues with people wearing large coats and winter hats as they have not experienced this. And winter born puppies have never seen a lawnmower in action and can be very frightened of this as a result.

https://www.dogstrust.ie/help-advice/advice-for-owners/lockdown-advice-introduction-to-puppy-socialisation

https://www.dogstrust.ie/dog-school/training-videos/making-your-puppy-feel-comfortable-when-being-handled-dogs-trust-dog-school

https://www.wonderpaws.ie/puppyschool

Article by Mairead Kilbride MVB Nov 2020

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