The process of socialising a puppy is simple but not easy. It takes preparation, dedication, observation, advocacy, creativity, and compassion.
You’re going to start by preparing, starting Day One. Have a loose plan in mind and have the tools you need to make this happen;
- tiny healthy treats (the size of a green pea)
- an easily accessible treat pouch
- a non-retractable leash and harness OR a safe carrier that allows your dog to see clearly and allows you to feed easily
How we do this:
- Your puppy notices the novel person/dog/place/thing/sound/texture/feeling
- You immediately start happy-talking (try not to use their name – just happy-talk)
- Grab a few small treats from your pouch and feed 3 in a row
Be sure to observe your puppy’s body language. Are they:
- trying to escape
- jumping up on your leg
- pinning their ears back
- wide-eyed and frozen
- scratching at themselves
- avoiding the interaction
- crouching or cowering
- refusing the food treats
If yes, your puppy needs space! Get some distance from the novel person/dog/place/thing/sound/texture/feeling and even pick them up if you need to. Comfort is NOT coddling and you will not reinforce fear this way – you will teach your puppy that you are the source of comfort and safety when they are afraid.
If your puppy is loose and comfortable and accepting treats, fantastic! You’ve done a great job! Move on.
Here is a fantastic example of one of our students socialising their new puppy with ducks at the waterfront.
Dad leaves enough space; he lets Emma move at her pace, and when he sees her spook, he doesn’t do anything but add something fabulous (cheese) to create a fantastic association. There’s no coaxing her to move closer, there’s no preventing her from getting away, there’s just patience, observation, kindness, and classical counterconditioning.
Unbelievable job. This is one for the textbooks.
You’re going to get a full socialisation roadmap as part of this course but there’s some foundation to explore first, to set you and your puppy up for success. Come back to this course regularly to brush up.