Friend or Foe?
Socialisation is a vital part of any dog’s upbringing and the development of a healthy mind state. Obviously and by far the best way of achieving this balanced mind state is to own a dog from puppy hood. From the time the pup is born the mother will encourage her litter to socialise and experience the new surroundings and environment that they now live in. During this time the pups will already have learnt about how to play happily together, where the food and water is, and where to go to keep out of the elements. Generally speaking it is at this point, around 8 – 12 weeks of age, that we humans come along and take our chosen charge away from its’ mother and siblings and the only world the pup has known since being born.
Whilst this process in taking ownership of a new pup is unavoidable there are a number of things that you can do to help eradicate some of the stress and confusion no doubt suffered by the young pup. Once you have decided which pup is to be your new charge, ask the breeder if you can leave an item of clothing with your scent on for the pup to become familiar with. Where possible and only with the breeders’ permission, handle the pup at every opportunity and speak to him. He won’t understand a word you say but he will get familiar with your dulcet tones and the sensation of your touch. Make sure that you ask the breeder to describe to you the pups’ daily routine to date and try not to change it too much. Also find out what, when and how much food the pup is being fed daily and do your best to replicate this. This advice is proven and perspective owners would do well to follow it.
Socialisation in more mature dogs is just as important as if it were a pup but for slightly different reasons. For example, a rescued three year old from your local shelter will have already developed physically into his prime but due to his previous experience’s, may not be as stable or balanced psychologically as you may think. Therefore it is vital to for the healthy well being of all concerned to set a routine at home, early. Introduce the dog to the area in which you live and be ready to control the environment in which they meet other strange dogs. Encourage them to play and meet other dogs in a polite manner. Never let a dog or human, get over excited when they first meet, this may look cute and feel heart warming but it could also lead to confrontation, so beware. Introducing your new dog to as many different situations and environments as possible will help him become familiar in his surroundings and this will go a long way to helping him into becoming a happy and content canine companion.
A lot of the problem cases that we see at the academy can in someway be accredited to extremely poor social skills in the dog. By working hard to rectify this issue, very often sees the dog literally change overnight. So if you have any concerns or are already experiencing problems in your dog that stem from poor social skills then why not just give us a call, we will be happy to help out and put you and your dog back on track.
Good Luck and remember a dog is NEVER too old to learn!