Every dog owner should be aware of the fact that socialisation from an early age is vitally important to the healthy development of puppies and young dogs, and that pups need to be able to spend plenty of time playing with and learning from other dogs as well as people! You should be prepared to spend plenty of time socialising your dog and getting them used to meeting other dogs happily, and this whole process teaches your puppy important life lessons about how to interact with other dogs, normal canine behaviour, and the limits of acceptable play.
It is also important to get your dog used to meeting new dogs and strangers on a regular basis, and not simply playing with one or two dogs that they get used to and see all the time! But how can you make sure that you expose your pup or young dog to the right types of socialisation experiences properly? Read on for some suggestions on where to take your puppy or dog to allow them opportunities to socialise with others.
Puppy training classes are a great way to get your pup learning the very first training basics that they will need to know, as well as giving them the chance to meet and greet other pups! Puppy training classes provide a great environment to meet other pups and their owners, and let your puppy play with and meet others of a similar age, who will all be learning together. Most areas run puppy training classes throughout the year, so check out your vet’s office, local clubs and training groups, and other sources of information to find a class near to you.
Puppy parties are often organised by the same people who run puppy training classes, and provide an opportunity for puppies and young dogs to meet, play and interact. Puppy parties are a great idea for puppies that are yet to start formal training, but are old enough to start meeting other dogs. Again, these types of events also give you the chance to meet and talk to other dog owners whose dogs are at the same developmental stage as yours, to compare notes, tips and advice, and of course make new friends.
Many larger pet shops, such as Pets at Home and PetSmart allow and sometimes, actively encourage their shoppers to bring their dogs along to the store, and you can often see dog owners in stores such as these with their own dogs. Shopping at stores like these mean that your puppy or young dog will almost certainly get the chance to meet other dogs of all ages within a safe, enclosed environment, and it will also get them used to being out and about in a range of different situations.
Also, if you are shopping for your dog, taking them along with you has some advantages; you can measure them up for size for things like collars and coats while they are right there!
If your pup is old enough to be going out and about, they should have already been along to the veterinary clinic at least twice, to get the two stages of their initial vaccination shots that protect them when coming into contact with other dogs. Getting your pup used to going along to the clinic just to say hi now and then will not only help them to view the vets in a positive light and not associate it with treatment alone, but also means that they may get the chance to meet other dogs in the waiting room, or the resident practice dog, if there is one!
Designated public dog parks are a perfect location to introduce your pup to other dogs of all ages, types and breeds, and to allow them to develop the basic skills of playing and learning from other dogs. The chances are that your pup will get the chance to meet a different set of dogs every time, learning from their play and interaction with them, and giving them the chance to let off steam in an enclosed outdoor environment!
Formal breed shows and those organised by The Kennel Club do not generally permit attendance by canine spectators that are not competing, but many other dog shows do! Small, local dog shows and fun, informal shows generally encourage attendance from as many dogs as possible, both competitors and spectators.
Find out if there is anything going on near to where you live, and take your pup or young dog along for the chance to make some new friends, and see what other dogs get up to in the ring as well. Getting your dog used to this type of environment early on is also of course particularly useful if you are considering showing your own dog later on in life.