The most common thing I am asked is “Do you run socialisation classes?”

The answer to that is no. Read on to find out why.

People are really keen for their puppies to “socialise” with other puppies and dogs. They feel they need to find friends for their dogs to play with.

This is down to humans anthropomorphizing dogs. Humans think their dogs need friends in order for them to have a great time. They think it is essential for them to run around a park or in a puppy class playing chase.

Over the 14 years that I have been teaching, this practice that people have been so desperate for has become further from the truth.

Dogs need to be social. They should be socialised correctly. They should be taught how to interact with other dogs politely. They should be taught how to play correctly with other puppies and dogs. They should be taught how to meet people in a polite manner.

Sadly this rarely happens and early incorrect socialisation can lead to a lot of unwanted behaviours.

What does allowing free for all play do to your puppy? Or more likely, by the time you are doing this your pup is an adolescent.

Adolescence starts at 14 – 16 weeks and will continue until your young dog is around 2 years of age.

 16 weeks is the most common age for your “puppy” to be allowed out in public to mix with other dogs after their vaccination. By this time your socialisation window has well and truly closed.

You take your adolescent dog to the park. Maybe he hasn’t been out for many walks at this stage and you let him off lead to run around and play with the “big kids”. 

You may as well hand the keys to your home over to a bunch of teenagers and leave them to throw a party!

Yes, that is pretty much what you are doing with your adolescent dog.

Many things could happen to your adolescent dog. 

They run around like crazy with one or more adolescent dogs or older dogs, usually for far too long. Half an hour, 1 hour maybe 2 hours with absolutely no interaction from you.

You think they have had “THE BEST TIME EVER!”

They probably haven’t! They have got into a very heightened state of arousal, they may have been bullied. They may have been the one doing the bullying which may have got them into trouble. You 

Owners usually then say it’s okay they needed to be told off. They should not have been put in that situation in the first place. You, as their guardian should have been guiding them through this situation.

What does this mean for your dog?

  • You can’t get them back because you haven’t taught them recall.
  • You only manage to grab them by doing a rugby tackle. Or someone else grabs them by pure chance.
  •  Since that experience, they pull on their lead desperate to get to any dog they get within 20 feet of/
  • They don’t listen to you when you call them back.
  • You can’t get them to focus on you when there are other dogs around.
  • They start barking excessively every time they see another dog because they are frustrated that they can’t
  • They won’t settle on the car ride home, or on the car ride back to the park on another day.
  • They won’t settle when they get home.
  • They start being destructive at home due to them being in a heightened state of arousal
It can take them up to 72 hours to come down from this high!

How does your dog’s behaviour make you feel?

  • Embarrassed?
  • Angry?
  • Upset?
  • Frustrated?
  • Annoyed?
  • Was your dog told off by another dog?
  • Were you told off by a member of the public?
  • Was it worth it?

Honestly? No it wasn’t. Unwanted behaviours have been created in a very short space of time.

What has your adolescent dog learned from this type of play?

  1. It’s fine for them to run over to another dog whether the other dog is on lead or not
  2. It doesn’t need to listen to you they have more fun elsewhere. It’s self rewarding.
  3. It may have learned that it is ok for them to bully another dog.
  4. It may have learned submissive behaviour, which has made them nervous around other dogs.
  5. It may have been told off by another dog that isn’t comfortable with this type of play which may then lead your adolescent dog to react to other dogs when they come close to them.

Was it worth it? 

Has your adolescent dog had a positive experience?

Will you do it again?

Other dog walkers may get upset with your dog’s behaviour. A dog is considered out of control if it runs up to another dog or person and pesters them. It doesn’t matter if your dog is friendly. It will be classed as being out of control.

So the question I then get asked is:

How do I socialise my adolescent dog correctly with other dogs?

You need to train it in many locations and teach them how to approach other dogs politely. 

Teach them how to play correctly with another dog who already knows how to play well with other dogs. 

  • Work on your relationship with your dog through positive behaviour-based training.
  • Teach them a recall
  • Don’t let them play too long – a few minutes at a time is adequate
  • Ensure the play is balanced by making sure the dogs mirror each other
  • Don’t let one dog bully the other
  • If one of the dogs is being submissive, help them, don’t watch them, and leave them to get on with it. It could put them in a vulnerable position and leave them open to being attacked
  • If there is a difference in size with the dogs, this shouldn’t matter, a well socialised bigger dog is likely to make itself smaller by staying lower to the ground if they have learned how to play correctly

Our Parkour classes are a great way to socialise your dogs. They will be working in a small group with various aged dogs. 

They will be working on an activity which builds confidence and focus.

They will be working in a controlled group environment with other dogs present.

A fantastic way to socialise your dog

Bumble Bee 1

The most important thing you can do for your adolescent dog is work with them and train them correctly. Teach them all the things you want them to do, don’t encourage the behaviours you  don’t want.

We offer bespoke 1-2-1 training programmes for young puppies from 8 weeks of age and right through adolescence and beyond.

Part of our socialisation programme is guiding you with your dog’s training and working with you out and about on location. If you have friends and family with dogs we can organise a social session teaching you all the correct ways to socialise your dogs. This could take place at our training centre, in a secure field somewhere or at your or your friends or family members’ home.

Don’t follow the crowd and teach your dog how not to behave.

Give them the best start possible right from the start. So they can socialise with other dogs correctly.

Get in touch with us and we will give you a call to discuss our bespoke training plans with you.