What's all this about Socialisation?

10 week-old Bailey greets a friendly adult dog. It's no good having a perfect canine physical specimen if your dog's brain is in permanent meltdown. This is how he'll be if he's kept away from life experiences during his formative weeks.

He could be frightened of people, just people with beards, children, roadworks, dogs, just white dogs, wooden floors, umbrellas, planes, water, burglar alarms, gravel paths, crowds, woolly hats, hot air balloons, doorways ... you name it. And all because his owners didn't know that the single most important thing they can do for their puppy is to take him everywhere for the first 16 weeks of his life. Hopefully they'll have got into the habit by then and keep taking him everywhere.

All experiences should be pleasant, and all meetings with other dogs carefully monitored. That way you'll end up with an easy-going dog who takes everything in his stride and doesn't feel the need to bark at other dogs to keep them away. So often this is misinterpreted as aggression when it's just plain, tail-wetting fear!

"The most common cause of fear and aggression is lack of socialisation. A puppy does not have to be mistreated to become afraid of people or new experiences. Good socialisation is the best way to ensure a friendly, well-adjusted puppy."
Gwen Bailey, top Behaviourist.

Jackson learning to go in water. If you are fortunate enough to live where there are puppy classes, you have an ideal opportunity to socialise your puppy with the pups of other careful owners, under the supervision of a trainer who will know how to protect the puppies and give you sound advice. See our list of classes for Norfolk: Puppy Classes and Good For Dogs!

It's worth travelling some distance to get to the right class. Be sure the training is purely reward-based, the tutor is qualified, the classes are small, and everyone is enjoying it.