“We should have socialised her more!”
The owners feel bad. Their dog has serious issues now.
They feel they should have socialised her more.
They tried though.
They took the advice of the vet to keep her home until the vaccinations were finished.
Then they were able to start puppy school.
They did everything the vet nurse said.
Their puppy was scared and hiding.
“You need to socialise her more,” was the standard advice.
For six weeks of puppy school she hid from the other puppies.
She fought off the vet staff and learned that biting keeps them away.
She went to dog school and only became harder to handle amongst all the other dogs.
Eventually the owners had enough and stopped going. It was clear no one was enjoying it.
Now their little scared puppy is all grown up and is not safe for dogs or people to be close to.
She knows exactly how to keep threats away.
She uses her teeth.
She learned it back in puppy school.
She learned it when she was being socialised.
This is not the owner’s fault. According to the experts they took advice from, they took all the right steps. They only listened to what they were advised.
They knew that when you get a puppy, you need to, “socialise it,” but no one told them what that really means.
People think it means get your puppy used to other dogs.
Really, if socialisation has 100 parts, getting used to other dogs is just one of them.
It’s so much more than that.
But we can still keep it simple.
Socialisation is getting your puppy used to all the things they will need to be able to cope with in their life such as environments, people, noises, objects, handling and other dogs.
Furthermore, the most critical time to do this is up to the age of 16 weeks. While vaccinations aren’t in full effect yet.
And the risk of a serious behaviour problem is much higher than the risk of disease. You just need to use some common sense and not take your puppy to areas highly trafficked by unknown dogs, especially not putting them on the ground in such areas.
But since other dogs is only a small part of correct socialisation, avoiding these areas isn’t a big deal.
And if you want to be paranoid about your pup picking up diseases, you better not go anywhere either, because you can bring home these diseases on your shoes.
Especially if you’ve been to any areas where sick dogs go – like the vet clinic.
Many people refer to this time of the year as puppy season. The best gift you can give yourself and your new puppy is helpful education which sets you up a more balanced dog and helps avoid serious behaviour issues.
See the free puppy section of the vault for a free puppy socialisation checklist that you can use to socialise your puppy safely. Access here.
The goal is to help your puppy to have either neutral or calm positive experiences with these things and environments, and avoid both negative experiences or a total lack of experience.
Above all, get out there and enjoy the big wide world with your puppy.
Woofs and wags
PS Like anything, there are good and not so good options. This post is not to say I am against vets or puppy schools, it’s about finding the right one and seeking behaviour and training advice from experts in that field rather than in a different field entirely.