Puppy Socialisation at Delders Dogs
The most important thing you can ever do for you puppy is socialisation. Adam Delderfield is a qualified dog trainer who firmly believes that early socialisation is the key to living a long and happy life with your dog. In this blog Adam explains the principals – and the importance of puppy socialisation.
What is puppy socialisation?
Puppy socialisation is the process of teaching a dog how to living happily with humans without losing touch with their doggy selves. Socialisation is important for dogs of any age, any breed and any background and is best started as young as possible.
As dog owners we want our canine companions to be bi-lingual. We want them to be calm and polite with dogs AND humans, even though the two species have very different ways of communicating. It can be quite a challenge for a dog. Which is why, as a dog trainer, I use behavioural science to help dogs to learn with confidence.
What your puppy already knows
Puppies spend the first few weeks of their lives learning the basics of becoming a dog. Their mother and their siblings show them how to communicate amongst themselves. They learn how hard they can play bite before they cause pain. They understand the difference between aggression and play and how to react to either. In short, they are beginning to learn how to use their doggy instincts to survive.
But here’s the thing. We don’t want our dogs to live entirely according to their natural instincts. We want our puppies to be pet dogs, loyal companions that fit into our society. And for that they need to learn a whole new set of life skills.
Socialisation is how we show our puppies that life with humans is cool. It’s not scary and in fact, if they trust their human family to care for them, life will be stress free and interesting.
The science behind puppy socialisation
Behavioural science has taught us that dogs learn through repetition. We also know from science that if a pup (or an adult dog) learns though positive experiences they literally become addicted to the joy of doing the right thing.
Praise, treats and rewards release a chemical called dopamine into the dog’s brain. In humans, dopamine is associated with sex, some medicines, dancing and awesome food. It’s why we turn to chocolate cake when we need cheering up and also why some people become addicted to medication.
Modern Dog trainers use reward based training and socialisation methods because they make the dog feel good. He wants to repeat the behaviour that created that feeling. With socialisation, we never force a dog into a situation he’s unhappy with, rather we introduce him to new things at a pace he feels comfortable with.
Why puppy socialisation is never a one size fits all experience
When you first meet your pup I’d like to think that he (or she) will be with his Mum and his littermates. I’d also hope that their breeder was someone who genuinely wanted to give every pup the best start in life.
Choosing the right pup for you is a matter of personal choice but it’s important that before you choose, you see how he interacts with the people and dogs around him.
If you observe a litter of puppies at play and at feeding time, you’ll very quickly realise that each has a unique personality. There’ll be a bossy one who plays rough and is first to the feed bowl. Some will be super enthusiastic about meeting a new human, others will sit back and assess the situation before they act. And of course, there are the introverts – happy with their own company and content to sit back and watch the world go by.
Your job as a responsible dog owner is to introduce your new puppy to the world and teach him how to live happily with humans. But your teaching methods and the pace of learning is going to be governed by the pup’s character. Try to make his character the deciding factor in your choice.
What does your puppy need to learn through socialisation?
Some dog trainers will encourage you to concentrate on general obedience, “sit, stay, heel” that sort of thing. At Delders dogs we think differently. Yes, obedience is important, but every aspect of your dog’s life with you will be underpinned by his confidence and his trust in you. And so at Delders Dogs we aim to build your puppy’s confidence he learns basic life skills.
Puppy socialisation classes
Puppy socialisation classes at Delders dogs are deliberately kept small. I think It’s important that classes are tailored to the characters within them. And so I want to give each pup and his owner as much 1-2-1 time as a I can.
Our foundation level puppy classes are all about understanding how pups develop and addressing common questions that owners ask.
So as well as having time to hang out with classmates and practice their doggy communication skills puppies will learn important life skills such as good manners, greeting dogs and people confidently and politely. In general it’s all about developing trust and a strong bond with their owner. Some of the subjects we cover include
Sit Down Stand
Come when called
Fundamentals of self-control
Why attend a puppy training class for socialisation?
Puppy training classes are a fantastic tool for socialisation. Dogs don’t automatically understand that the washing machine won’t hurt them, that the postman is not a threat, or that their human companions don’t need to be protected from the bicycle. The human world can be confusing and scary for them.
By understanding how puppies develop and learn at each life stage, we can guide them past their worries and teach them what they need to know to become a happy, huggable, and harmless adult dog.
My holistic approach to puppy socialisation is based on science but achieves empathy between dogs and their owners.
Click here for details and dates of the next puppy class
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