Puppy Socialisation


What is puppy socialisation? All animals have a special sensitive period at the start of their lives. During this time, they learn to accept things around them so that they are not afraid of them later in life. In puppies, this window of opportunity closes at about 12-16 weeks of age.

Why is this important?

Behavioural problems in our dogs are on the increase and the vast majority of these problems are brought about by poor socialisation. Many aggression and nervous problems in dogs can be prevented by good socialisation. A puppy does not have to be mistreated to become afraid of people or new experiences. A well socialised puppy will have a happier life and be much easier to live with.

How do I socialise my puppy?

Puppies need to experience as many encounters as possible during their first year of life, especially during the sensitive period, without being overwhelmed too much.

Ideally socialisation should start with the breeder. Dogs that have been reared in a quiet house or worse in a barn or kennel will have a harder time adjusting.

What do I need to focus on?

There are 4 main areas:

1. Humans - adults and children. Puppies need to have pleasant encounters with different types of people and different ages of children (under supervision) every day. Ensure your puppy has encounters with people like postmen, refuse collectors, and veterinary surgery staff. The more humans your puppy meets the more tolerant and friendly it will become.

2. Other dogs and puppies. Puppies need to play with other dogs and puppies in order to learn appropriate behaviour and body language to show other dogs how they are feeling. Allow your puppy to mix with sociable dogs only, and interrupt any behaviour you do not want your puppy to show to other dogs as an adult. Join a good puppy class where your puppy can learn to mix with others of different breeds and temperament.

3. Different experiences / environments. Take your puppy out in the car, let him experience traffic (including bicycles, motorbikes and lorries), crowds, towns, countryside, train station, loud noises etc. Ensure your puppy is enjoying the experience and not feeling too vulnerable! It is also a good idea to visit the vets with your pup when there is no procedure to be done, so that he learns it can be a fun place too! It's also a chance to chat to the nurses / other staff and have your puppy's weight checked.

4. Other animals - cats, livestock, horses. Puppies should meet a variety of other animals. Ensure you keep your puppy on a lead to prevent it from learning to chase or harass other animals.

When do I start?

As soon as possible! In order to go to a "puppy party" or socialisation class, we usually advise that the puppy has had their first vaccine at least a week before. Until your puppy is vaccinated it should

Not mix with unvaccinated dogs

Not be walked in areas where other dogs have been

Be taken out and about often in "non-doggy" areas, being carried if necessary to avoid contact with other dogs and soiled areas.

Where can I find a puppy class?

There are local classes available - please ask at reception for a list, or look on the Links section of the website.

We also run puppy parties at our Staines surgery on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening at 7.30pm. It is a four week course, and there is a small charge of £30 per puppy Places are limited as only 8 puppies are allowed, and we don't allow puppies over the age of 15 weeks.

All puppies must have had their 1st vaccination at least 1 week ago.

What happens at puppy parties?

Different classes will have differing aims / timetables. Here is a run down of what happens at our Classes:

Your puppy will learn vital socialisation skills

They will have positive experiences in our veterinary surgery and get to know the veterinary staff

A tour of the veterinary practice

The puppies will experience controlled but enjoyable play

Our nurses can help with any problems that you may have with toilet training, play biting, walking on a lead etc

We will discuss flea treatment, worming, neutering, nutrition, micro chipping, insurance and how to help you have a happy, healthy dog

Puppy parties are fun for adults, children and puppies; we aim to give your puppies the best start in life.