Puppy Parties for socialisation
For many owners when they bring their puppy home one of the first things to think about socialisation, and understand that this is very important. Wanting the best start for their pup’s life they look into their local Puppy Parties, but not all are made equal!
At some puppy parties you will often see five or six puppies together in one small waiting room off lead, there is usually one very excited puppy running and charging into the others and another puppy hiding under a chair, not sure of how to get out of the situation. “Let them sort it out themselves” you may hear the organiser say.
Why is this a bad idea?
Firstly, puppies do not make good choices by themselves. They also do not know when enough is enough. The longer they play the more arousal shoots up and they become hyper. Puppies that tend to be more boisterous will become even more boisterous and the timid pup will learn that no one is going to help them.
Puppy play should be well matched
Put the more confident pups together and the more timid pups together, look out for signs that one pup may be too much for the other, we want them to both enjoy it. Play should be short and fun and always finish with a tasty treat back with the owner. They are never too young to start learning to come back to you after play. After they have had a little break and a chance to calm down, you can let them have a little play again.
Be your dog’s guardian
If they look worried or the play is too much for them, don’t be afraid to intervene. Separate the pups by calmly holding onto their harness, pop them back on lead and give them a treat as you both walk away. You can then calm them both down with a snuffle mat or a kong. Or if you are out and about, scatter a few treats in the grass for them to search and find. You are also teaching your pups that good things happen when they come away from play and back to you is such a valuable life skill.
A good natured older dog can be a fantastic role model for your puppy, but remember not to let your puppy keep pestering the older dog, puppy pens and gated communities are a good idea to give the older dog a bit of peace and quiet too.
Be aware of over socialising your puppy
This means introducing your pup to every dog they see, every person and child they see. There are two reasons why you should be a little more selective. You could end up with a dog who is fearful of them, after becoming overwhelmed. On the other end of the scale your pup learns that they are allowed to play with everyone and gets frustrated when they can’t, for example when you take them to the Pub for a nice family meal and you have a dog who is barking and pulling at the end of the lead because they need to greet everyone in there!
So you can use the one in five rule:
To avoid ending up with a dog that runs off to greet every single dog or person in the distance we use the ‘meet one in five rule’.
This means that most of the time we don’t say hello to the dog or person walking past but instead we keep walking and give a treat to your puppy if they find this hard.
Remember not all dogs or people will enjoy having a puppy come up to them so make sure to ask.
In our workshops and classes we teach our dogs to enjoy focusing on us with the added distractions of other people and dogs. Through cleverly designed games we can work on important life skills such as recall, impulse control, settle and loose lead walking and all in the presence of others. Having plenty of space means a better learning environment but also allow owners and dogs to feel more comfortable and confident.
Why do we like to teach our dogs to ignore others?
We like to teach our dogs to ignore other dogs, people and distractions. Firstly it may not be safe for your dog to chase the cyclist, or flatten that child, or run up to a dog on lead. A dog that can focus on their owners and can ‘mind their own business’ is a dog that you can take anywhere!
- Can settle in the pub.
- Doesn’t jump up at strangers.
- Can walk past other dogs without running up to them.
- Focuses on you even when another dog runs up to them.
- Loves to play your game instead of chasing joggers, cyclists, or another dog’s ball.
- Enjoys a picnic with you and not try to join everyone else’s.
- Will be the envy of all other dog owners.
At The Vets
We help out at the Chessington Vets puppy classes where owners can get lots of useful information about health, insurance, things to look out for, poisons etc. We also introduce two training games into each session to get started on some life skills. We make sure pups are happy and comfortable in the presence of other dogs and people and have snuffle mats to keep them busy while owners listen to the advice.
- To settle in a waiting room.
- Positive association with the vets.
- To focus on their owner in distracting environments.
- Polite greetings.
- Toy play.
- And so much more.