Keep it safe
Don’t introduce to any unknown dogs that you meet on a walk. If you don’t know the dog owner, you don’t know that it is safe. The dog could be aggressive or not vaccinated. Or they may not be tolerant of puppies. You also only want to make sure to only expose your puppy to adult dogs that are good role models.
Keep it positive
Don’t push your puppy. Let them choose to interact in their own time. Keep an eye on their body language and make sure they are having a good time. Use their favourite treats to create a positive association.
Keep it controlled
Take it slow. If your pup moves away, turns its head, licks its lips or retreats to you then they are not having a good time. You will need to go slower with the interaction. Overwhelming experiences while the pup is in the critical development periods are enough to create a fearful dog.
Please do not go to the dog parks as you can not guarantee it is safe, positive or controlled. Dogs are injured and die in dog parks far too regularly. At the very least, your puppy will learn inappropriate play skills. We can always tell a dog that has been socialised at a dog park as they don’t have an “off” switch and don’t know how to listen to other dogs.
Quality rather than quantity
The message out there is to do as much socialisation as possible and this is true, but only if you can maintain it being safe, positive and controlled. Quality interactions that ensure your pup is having a good time is absolutely essential, negative interactions will undo the good work you have done. Look for puppy schools that have small classes and playgroups. Otherwise, it will be difficult to maintain safe, positive and controlled.
Don’t wait till your puppy has finished their vaccination schedule. Most puppies that wait till the end of vaccinations have missed the key socialisation window and are at risk of developing fears and phobias. Enrol in a puppy school and playgroup as soon as you lock in a date to bring your puppy home. Make sure it is run by only experienced and certified positive trainers and they run their classes and playgroups in a safe, positive and controlled way.
Check out Fur Get Me Not’s Puppy School and play groups here