During all encounters, protect your puppy from bad experiences. Young puppies are inexperienced and get themselves into trouble easily, so think ahead and try to prevent any unpleasant events from occurring. Try to engineer encounters that will be successful and rewarding — if all early life is pleasant and positive, your puppy will grow up to feel safe and confident enough to deal with whatever life may have in store.
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Puppies should always be able to make an approach in their own time and retreat if they want to. They may also lick their lips or yawn. Make sure you pay attention to these signs and take action as soon as possible, usually by taking your puppy away from whatever is causing them to be worried. Your puppy should be carefully introduced to a variety of adult dogs as well as other puppies. Ensure these dogs are safe around puppies as a bad experience is often worse than none at all.
A puppy learns to interact appropriately with well-socialised adult dogs by spending time with them. They will learn important skills such as not putting teeth and paws all over them unless invited to do so , and how to communicate effectively. Most adult dogs will tell a puppy off if they are too exuberant; however some are extremely tolerant and may allow your puppy to play too roughly. Dogs that play very physical games when young either with another puppy or a tolerant adult dog often learn to expect these sorts of games from all dogs which is likely to get them into trouble.
If games become too boisterous, then intervene by encouraging your puppy away and get them to focus on you instead. Equally protect your puppy from the exuberant play of a bigger dog, especially if your puppy is shy. Crouch down to provide a safe haven and do not allow an older dog or another puppy to frighten or bully yours. Since your puppy is not protected from major diseases until after vaccinations have taken effect, special care should be taken to ensure that the dogs and puppies encountered are fully vaccinated and healthy see later.
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Puppies should observe or meet a variety of other animals, but should be kept under control to prevent them learning to enjoy chasing. Reward your puppy verbally and with treats if they are calm and relaxed in these situations. If they become a little excitable which is only natural at first , then create a bit of distance until they get used to staying calm in these situations.
As well as meeting other animals, puppies need to encounter a variety of different environments and situations. This provides an opportunity to become familiar with a wide range of different scents, sights and sounds.
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If your dog is socialising well with humans, familiarisation with different environments should happen naturally. However, it is worth making an effort to check that your puppy is gradually becoming accustomed to car travel, traffic, the countryside and towns. Different puppies have different sensitivities — some are easy to socialise and some take a little more effort. Puppies from herding breeds, such as collies and German shepherd dogs, tend to be more prone to fearfulness and need more and earlier socialisation than other breeds.
You may also have an older puppy that missed out on a lot of early experiences.
Whatever the reason, shy or nervous puppies are likely to need a lot more extra support during this really important time in their lives. Let shy puppies take their time as forcing them into many situations is counterproductive. Allow your shy puppy the freedom and time to make friends at their own speed. Never pull your puppy towards a stranger, or pick your puppy up and hand them over to someone. They may then panic once there, which is not a good learning experience.
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If the unfamiliar person crouches down, avoids strong eye contact and after a while throws a few titbits gently on the floor around the puppy, they may soon become comfortable enough to explore and venture closer. Stroking should only take place once the puppy is showing confident and relaxed behaviour and always take regular breaks to allow the puppy to move away should it want to. Shy puppies need to be handled with care to ensure they gain adequate experience and make up for lost time, but do not become overwhelmed in the process.
It is worth making a special effort to help them overcome fears while still young and adaptable enough to change. Young animals are susceptible to disease before their immune systems have a chance to become effective. Puppies acquire some immunity from their mothers if they were vaccinated , which protects them during the early weeks. This is why the first vaccination is not given until the puppy is six to nine weeks of age.
The second is given three weeks later and the puppy is fully protected after a further one week. Since keeping a puppy isolated until 13 weeks old is likely to have a devastating effect on their ability to cope with life in general, a compromise must be reached between the need to protect against disease, and the need to ensure good mental health.
As most of the socialisation process will involve humans rather than other dogs, such a compromise is feasible and, if the following guidelines are kept to to, it is possible to socialise your puppy and avoid the risk of infection. Carry your puppy when necessary to avoid unwanted contact from other dogs or soiled areas.
Pleasant experiences will help build up a bank of positives which will in some way help offset the negative experiences that your dog may encounter if unwell or in pain at a later date. You never know when you might need one as all dogs have the potential to bite when scared. Better to prepare your dog in advance so that should they need to wear one for any reason, they are very comfortable doing so. Puppies are usually admitted between the ages of 12 and 20 weeks and the entire family is encouraged to attend so that all the puppies present get to meet a wide variety of adults and children.
Finding a good class is essential as a bad one can do more harm than good — your vet may be able to recommend one. Ask to observe a class in progress before taking your puppy along.
If there is a lot of uncontrolled play between puppies with little intervention, look elsewhere. Puppy classes should teach more about how to enjoy the company of humans rather than how to have a good time playing with other puppies. Friend's Email Address. Your Name.
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