It’s a well-known fact that puppy classes help prevent behaviour problems and increase the likelihood a dog will become a great pet and lifelong companion.
Dogs are social creatures. Your pup needs interaction — with you, other people and other animals, beginning very early in life.
Contrary to what many people believe, puppies need a great deal of time and attention in order to ensure they mature into dogs who are beloved members of the family.
The Importance of Socialising Your Puppy
Socialisation means exposing your puppy to as many new people, animals, environments and other stimuli as possible without overwhelming him. Over-stimulation of a young puppy can result in excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behaviour, so knowing how much is enough is important.
A properly socialised puppy is:
Handled from birth and learns to accept touching of all body parts
Exposed to as many people, other animals, places and situations as possible
Encouraged to explore and investigate his environment
Allowed to experience a variety of toys and games, surfaces and other stimuli
Brought along often on car rides to new environments with his owner
Proper socialisation will engage all of your puppy’s senses through exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of day-to-day life.
This exposure will desensitise and condition your pup so that he develops a comfort level with different and new situations.
Socialisation also helps you train your young dog to handle new experiences and challenges with acceptable, appropriate behaviour.
An unsocialised dog is unlikely to cope well with changes in his environment or situation, making him difficult to handle for his owner, veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter, and any visitors to the dog’s home.
If your puppy isn’t properly socialised, he can develop permanently ingrained fear responses and generalised anxiety. This type of behavior problem can ultimately make your dog unsuitable as a pet – for you or anyone else.
Almost half of all dogs turned in to shelters have at least one behaviour problem — aggression and destructiveness are among the most common. Both of these behaviors can be caused by the fear and anxiety that develops from improper or incomplete socialisation.
Timing is Everything
The most important time to socialise a puppy is during her first three months of life. For most people, that means starting the process on puppy’s very first day home.
The first three months of your dog’s life are when sociability outweighs fear, and her brain is most inclined to accept new experiences. What your pup encounters during this critical time will shape her character, temperament and behaviour for the rest of her life.
If your puppy isn’t socialised during her first three months, it can increase the risk of behaviour problems later in life, such as fear, avoidance and aggression. These problems can be excruciatingly difficult to fix in an older animal.
The last thing you hope for when you bring home your adorable little bundle of love and energy is that she’ll end up an ill-behaved and unmanageable adult dog, banished to your backyard or the nearest animal shelter.
That’s why it is so incredibly important to properly socialise your pup before she reaches the age of 14-16 weeks.
Socialisation is intended to develop your puppy into an outgoing, sociable dog without behavior problems. The socialisation process can start at seven to eight weeks and should continue for the rest of your pet’s life.
Enrolling your little guy in a well-run puppy class involves minimal exposure to health risks and is an excellent way to:
Increase puppy’s responsiveness to commands
Teach bite inhibition through puppy play
Teach proper interaction with people, including strangers
Learn tips for successful housebreaking and how to prevent hyperactivity (the two most common reasons given by owners when relinquishing their dogs)
Develop more realistic expectations for your dog
Strengthen your bond with your puppy
Studies show owners who involve their puppies in puppy classes are much more likely to keep their pets.
If you would like to join a puppy class please check ours our here