Socialisation, it is the key word, everyone talks about it when we get our new puppy.
It does not matter whether this is your first or your sixth dog. Socialisation is still the most important word that we need to be talking about.
What is socialisation and why is it so critical?
Socialization is not a list of things that you need your pup to see, hear or smell.
Socialization is about your dog’s emotions? Socialization is about creating memories that are all good.
- Postman is good
- Cats are good
- Large black dogs are good
- Men with beards and hats are good.
Unfortunately, we don’t have an unlimited time to make these positive memories. The latest research says that memories made between 3-14 weeks are strongly fixed in the brains of our pups and that after this period, new experiences are met with more fear than optimism.
Given that we generally get our puppies at 8 weeks of age that does not leave us much time to make the most of this opportunity.
How can you tell what your dog is feeling emotionally? You need to be able to read your dog’s body language. This is critical.
I was so naive with my first pup, a dachshund named Katie. My understanding of her body language was a waggly tail meant Katie was happy and when her tail was tucked under, she was unhappy.
Please if this is what you think is understanding body language. That is okay, but you need to know more ….
Why do I need you all to know more than I did? Because a tucked tail very often means we are giving our dog the emotion of fear and that is not a memory you want to create?
- Black dogs mean fear
- Postman means fear.
- Guest at the gate means fear
Of course, we can undo bad memories or create new ones, but this requires more work, understanding, and dedication.
At this point, can I say thank you to all of you that have rescued a dog. Whether you have a brand new pup or a rescue dog, socialisation is always occurring, it just takes longer and needs more skill to create those good memories. as they age.
So, it is important we set up our pups to have these great positive emotional responses but we must read our pup’s body language, to ensure they are feeling these good emotions.
For example, picking up your puppy and letting the postman pat them, may create open-mouthed, waggly tail pups …. GOOD memories
Or it may create a mouth closed, looking away, whites of the eyes, a very still tail, pup ……. NOT GOOD memories. We need to improve on this.