Socialising your pup is vitally important and also quite difficult for the majority of owners at the moment with Covid restrictions in place. It has been nearly 6 months now since companies had to suspend Socialisation Classes due to Covid, myself included. If we’re not careful there will be a generation of unsocialised dogs who’ve never been given the chance to make other doggy friends and learn to be dogs! You are not alone with this however it’s not impossible and there are things you can do to help your pup's socialisation along while staying safe:
1 - While out on your walks take the opportunity to say hello to other people and their dogs. Most will be happy to let your new pup say hello to them and their dog: a) because puppies are cute and b) because they know how important a socialised dog is.
2 - Following guidelines, you could arrange to meet a friend who also has a dog and go out on a walk around the park, I’ve also seen people in Facebook groups asking to meet up with other dog owners while out on a walk which is also another great idea.
3 - You can take your pup to a Puppy Socialisation Class – Yes, I’ve just said that they are all closed at the moment however The Dog Play Co has a solution. Check out the details of our Puppy Creche here
Whichever way you decide to help socialise your pup there are some key points to remember:
1 - Don’t force things. If your pup doesn’t want to meet another dog that is absolutely fine. Just seeing that other dogs exist and being comfortable with them in the same area is a great start.
2 - Look out for your pup'shappy’ signals. These include waggy tails, pricked up ears and being a bit excited. Any pup whose tail is between their legs and who’s ears are down isn’t happy to say hello yet. Don’t despair, they will do as they get older and build confidence, its important to keep trying though.
3 - Some older dogs don’t like ‘puppy-ness’. Puppies have high energy and excitement levels which some dogs may not appreciate. While older dogs may be happy to have a sniff and say hello when your pup get into puppy mode and starts bouncing around as they do, they may get annoyed.
When your pup tells you that they are ready to say hello (don’t worry you’ll know!) keep them on the lead so you can still control their actions. Pups get really excited when they see another dog and this excitement will often over-ride any training they’ve had already. Getting an excited puppy to sit or not pull on the lead can be impossible sometimes! Don’t punish them if they don’t do as they are told at a young age because they haven’t learnt self-control yet. As they get older your pup will learn to make decisions based on their past experiences. Over time, if you’re consistent with your reward-based training, they know listening to you will lead to good things and they will learn to control their excitement around other dogs.
Pups play differently from other dogs; they tend to jump and bounce around a lot. Pups can also seem quite rough when they are playing, they like to play bit legs and ears, they also like to wrestle. This is all normal don’t worry. Because of this puppy playstyle, its best for your pup to learn to socialise and play with other pups of a similar age, a socialisation class or our Puppy Creche is an ideal starting place.
Pups may also get ‘told off’ by the other dog if they get too rough or play bite too hard, again this is perfectly normal but it can be worrying as an owner. For clarity by ‘told off’ I refer to being growled or barked at and if your pup does get told off, they will realise that they’ve gone too far and learn from the experience. Your pup will most likely want reassurance from you if this happens which is absolutely fine and if your pup (and the other dog) is happy to carry on playing then let them. I know your instinct will be to stop the play but young pups learn from their experiences, they won’t know where the boundaries of play are unless they get told. This is another good reason why its best they start playing with pups their own age so they can both find the boundaries and together.
If you have any specific questions about socialisation or how our Puppy Creche can be beneficial please get in touch and we will be happy to help.