It is very important to socialise your dog, as a properly socialised dog will stay calm in unpredictable situations. Socialisation involves introducing your dog to a variety of different environments, people, other dogs and animals, and enables it to absorb lots of new sights, smells and sounds. It is, however, necessary to socialise your dog as early as possible if you want to achieve the best results.
The best time to begin socialising your dog is when it is around four to six weeks old, as young puppies are easier to handle than older dogs and will generally approach most situations with great ease. Once a puppy gets to about twelve weeks of age, it will be more aware of its surroundings and will probably approach things with more caution. A large number of behavioural problems in dogs are actually caused by a lack of socialisation when they are young.
Some dogs will obviously be very confident in most situations, whilst others may find many experiences a little daunting. You will therefore need to offer your dog lots of reassurance to ensure that it is able to cope well in difficult situations. You will also need to remember to take things very slowly, and if your dog ever seems uneasy about anything you may need to remove it or give it some space so that it can approach the situation in its own time. Try to introduce your dog to as many new people and objects around the house as you can in the first few weeks of training, as this will encourage it to adopt a friendly and relaxed attitude.
Once your dog has been fully vaccinated, you can begin taking it out for regular walks. Whilst you are out, try to give your dog as many new experiences as possible by introducing it to bicycles, trains, water areas, bridges, wild animals, etc. It is also a good idea to take your new companion to the local park, along busy roads and through town centres, as this will expose it to plenty of traffic and loud noise. Remember that it is very important to reinforce good behaviour by praising your dog when it behaves well. If your dog ever behaves aggressively, you will need to say “No” firmly and pull it back towards you with the lead.
Another good way of introducing your dog to other dogs and people is to take it along to puppy classes. Regular training classes will help to make your dog more obedient, and will ensure that it learns to walk nicely by your side when you are out on walks together. Once you have trained your dog to come back to you off the lead, you will also be able to let your pet have some freedom in the local dog park or in another suitable open space.
Owning a dog that is well socialised will make life a lot easier and more enjoyable for you. You will always be able to relax when you are in the company of other people and animals, knowing that your dog is going to behave in an acceptable manner whatever the situation.