My name is Jacquie Chalmers. I have been a breeder of Lhasa Apsos for 30 years now and I have learned from my peers and by my own mistakes. I do not profess to be an expert but I do have years of experience, and I may add I am still learning.
What my talk today will be about is the socialisation of puppies.
First I will begin with the time to start the socialisation program.
Socialising a puppy correctly and at the right time will be the most important stage in their lives.
From 6 weeks of age until about 4 months of age is a critical time for the training process, if mistakes are made in this period the puppy may not end up happy and balanced.
What I mean by a puppy being balanced is that they are happy, out-going, non aggressive, inquisitive and a social dog.
In the first few weeks when they are new born they should be left undisturbed as much as you possibly can with their mother just feeding and sleeping.
When you think about it we are all born into the world not knowing what species we belong to, this applies to all life, so like every other creature the puppy needs to identify with their own species, they will acquire this information in a unique process called imprinting.
This process of imprinting begins with the puppy playing games with its siblings and its mother.
At about 5 weeks puppies start to play war games chasing each other’s ears and muzzles.
These games help them to learn the rules of pack life, puppie’s are testing for domination and submission, if they lay on their backs with their hind paws spread apart it means they have lost the battle, these games are all part of good socialisation.
As an adult this enables them to avoid rejection or fights with other dogs.
If however the puppy is raised with other species i.e. cats, rabbits and even a stuffed animal (toy) they may end up identifying with species that they live with.
If there is a complete absence of other dogs between 3 and 16 weeks the puppy will identify with the nearest species (i.e. humans etc)
This can happen to a singleton puppy.
As an adult they tend to prefer the species that they have identified with and can show aggression towards their own species. In order to avoid this the pup should be raised in a group with their mother until at least 8 weeks if possible.
Dogs have a natural in-built biological program which makes them interact socially with other species, so they must be introduced to them early in their lives so that they will not attack them later. Different people must be introduced to them at an early age, men women and children, and this must continue until 3-4 months of age.
This interaction will not prevent the puppy’s identification with his own species.
Another important part of the socialisation process is noise, puppies need to be exposed to such noises as the vacuum cleaner, washing machines etc at an early age, puppies that grow up outside away from human noise have a hard time socialising when they go to their new homes,
There are DVD’s available now with noise’s for puppies thunder, fireworks etc, I personally have not tried them, but feel that they could be useful.