Socialisation can be done right and it can be done wrong. It’s important to understand the difference so that you can avoid long-term trauma resulting in behaviour challenges later.
If you’re doing it right, you’ll see that your puppy is gaining confidence, not showing signs of fear and anxiety when faced with novel people/dogs/places/things/sounds/textures/feelings. You might even see that your puppy anticipates food when faced with something or someone novel. That is pure gold right there!! Feed them! Trust me.
Do not misunderstand this, however! If your puppy is not showing signs of fear, you must continue this process in its entirety. It’s a prevention process, not a treatment process. Just because your dog is “fine” now, doesn’t mean they will retain this sociability at an adolescent or adult dog. It can be very misleading if you have a naturally confident puppy.
Doing it wrong looks like this:
- simply exposing our puppy to novel people/dogs/places/things/sounds/textures/feelings without associating food and happy-talk
- pushing them to interact with people when they are feeling uncertain
- letting them interact with dogs who are bullies, too rough, or otherwise inappropriate
- allowing another dog to “teach your puppy a lesson” by over-correcting and frightening them
- keeping your puppy indoors or away from novel people/dogs/places/things/sounds/textures/feelings until they’ve had all their shots
Tread carefully with this prevention-based process and try not to see it as a treatment for a problem.