When can my puppy meet new friends?
Socialisation is essential for any puppy to ensure they’re confident, understand boundaries and adapt easily to new experiences. This applies even more so for those who have taken a puppy home during the pandemic when socialisation opportunities were limited due to restrictions. If you’re thinking about taking a puppy home in the run-up to Christmas, you’ll want to take note of these tips on how to make sure your pup transitions into their new home during this exciting and busy time of year!
By Emily Roach, Paws in Work guest blogger.
A puppy's timeline.
Here are the key life changes pups will go through from inside the womb to the first 7 weeks of their lives.
- Dogs are pregnant for an average of 58-68 days
- Puppies are born blind and deaf and rely on their sense of smell to guide them to their mother’s milk
- Puppies open their eyes at around 2 weeks of age
- Their sense of hearing will occur around 3 weeks of age
- They begin taking their first steps 3-4 weeks of age
- By the age of 6 weeks, all their deciduous teeth will have erupted
- Puppies are weaned off their mothers by 7 weeks
- They receive their first injections between 7-8 weeks
- Most puppies go to their new homes between 8-10 weeks, depending on injections and the breeders’ rules
So when can my pup go outside?
This varies, depending on when your pup has had their first vaccination and when their second vaccination is due. Typically, most pups have their first vaccine at 8 weeks and their second vaccine at 10 weeks. It is advised to wait for a week after their second vaccine until they can go out in public places where other dogs frequently visit. This is to avoid your pup picking up any diseases from dogs, foxes, and other animals such as rats.
It’s safe for your pup to explore their private outdoor space as soon as they come home, as toilet training will begin instantly! Try your best to keep your outdoor space free of potential germs and risks, e.g., fox poo, and make sure that any other dogs you own are up to date with their vaccines.
Alternatively, you take your pup outside in public before they’ve been fully vaccinated; you can wrap them up in a puppy sling or secure them in a puppy holdall. By doing this, you can start to familiarise them with the surrounding neighbourhood and allow them to experience the outdoors without the risk of picking up diseases from the ground.
How do they safely make new friends?
Making friends is a huge part of your pup’s character building and socialisation process. A good way to safely get your pup to socialise is by introducing them to other dogs in neutral settings, such as the park. This is so other dogs don’t become territorial when a new visitor enters their space.
If a stranger with a dog is approaching you and you notice their dog is on-lead, it is expected for you to keep your dog/ pup on their lead too, even if they’re reliable with recall at this point. It’s an unwritten rule that dogs kept on the lead may be unpredictable or nervous, so you should respect that, rather than letting your dog bound over to them and potentially overwhelm them.
Puppy training sessions, organised meet-ups, and doggy day care are also fantastic ways to allow your pup to socialise and make new friends with dogs of all ages and sizes.
Signs to look out for
Whether your puppy is meeting a friend or family member’s dog, or a dog you don’t know, it’s important to monitor their interactions. No matter how friendly the other dog may seem, they have their own boundaries. Here are some playful behaviours to show the other dog is happy to socialise with your pup and vice versa.
- sniffing calmly
- waggy tail
- play bowing
- rolling onto their back (submissive/friendly)
It’s always a great idea to incorporate something desirable like a treat or your pup’s favourite toy when they have a good interaction with a new friend, to emphasise positive associations and experiences.
If another dog or your pup shows any of the following behaviours, it might be best to remove them from the situation before things escalate into a negative encounter:
- snarling /growling
- tail tucked between legs
- lunging whilst on the lead / approaching
- excessive yawning and lip licking (anxiety)
- cowering / shaking
As previously mentioned, it’s a good idea to introduce your pup to new friends on neutral grounds to avoid any territorial behaviour exhibited by them or the other dog. Once a solid foundation of friendship has been established, you are ready to move onto indoor playdates!
It goes without saying to make sure the environment is puppy-proof and there are no risks of injury. Allow plenty of space for them to run around with lots of toys for them to play with together. If another dog is coming into your home, you can get your pup used to sharing their toys happily. You won’t want them to pick up behaviours like resource guarding which can be projected onto other things in the future, such as food!
Give the pups / dogs plenty of breaks to have a drink and chill out together. It’s just as important to teach your pup how to relax in the company of others as well as constantly be on the go. Besides, if your pup doesn’t get the hint that playtime is over, the other puppy/ dog may correct them and let them know that they've had enough. Healthy corrections from other dogs are all part of teaching your pup etiquette and learning the boundaries of healthy play.
Team up with us.
Would you like your litter of pups to benefit from our puppy therapy sessions? Your pups will well and truly meet the target of meeting 100 new people in their first 100 days, as they can meet up to 80 people in just one day with our team! Your pups will be extremely well-socialised through working with us, perfectly preparing them for their new forever homes or future careers. Contact us today to find out more. We look forward to working with you and your wonderful litters.