Since getting my new puppy I’ve spent a great deal of time on training her to have great skills with other dogs. A lot of families think this means to take their new puppy to puppy socials, daycare or play sessions. In all honesty this is something I don’t recommend!
The evolution of puppy socialization has been a good thing overall however having large groups of puppies all rough housing together isn’t necessary the skills we want to be teaching them. Puppies can easily learn to bully, be bullied or even hurt one another. What happens during their crucial learning time will carry through life so it’s important they learn how to play respectfully.
Here’s what I do recommend:
- Regular play sessions with easy going but assertive adult dogs. This would be adult dogs that do in fact like puppies and playing however also like to take breaks, not play too rough and will teach the young puppy how to be a good friend instead of a maniac.
- Mixing play time with training. So rather than just letting the puppies bounce all over each other you’d mix in some name attention, recall, position commands with short bursts of play. This teaches the puppies how to disengage with one another and return to focus on the handler.
- Meeting as many types of dogs as possible in a safe and controlled environment. Skip the dog park! But find friends or other dog lovers with vaccinated, friendly adult dogs to introduce your pup to.
- Be involved in your puppy’s playtime. Avoid daycares where they will just put your pup in with a large group of dogs for the day. Play times should be short, closely supervised and have a small group of dogs – if not only two at a time!
- Intervene if one or more dogs aren’t having a good time or they are getting too excited. Remember you are looking for calm, balanced play as that’s what will get your puppy ahead in life not out of control maniacs. Don’t ever leave it to the dogs to sort each other out. Over excitement can easily turn into a dog fight.
Puppies need a chance to meet and play with a large variety of dogs. Ensure your puppy gets the best chance to develop their play skills by working closely with a trainer who has access to calm, friendly adult dogs for socialization.
Check out the Where’s Your Sit Facebook page for videos on appropriate play as well as other dog training videos.