Socialising Your Dog

By Dr Eloise Bright 5 Min Read

Socialising your puppy early will go a long way to ensuring that you have a happy, well adjusted dog that interacts well with people and other animals.

In some ways, adding a new puppy to the household is much like adding a human member to the household – it takes some time for everyone to get to know one another.

But when you get a new puppy, it will also need to become familiar with ‘things’ and activities, not just members of the household. The process of getting your puppy comfortable with everything that will be a regular part of its life is called socialisation.

The socialisation process sets the foundation for a comfortable and happy life for your puppy. And to get the best results, you’ll need to have an active hand in your puppy’s socialisation process.


The socialisation period offers a great opportunity to get your dog comfortable with new experiences. But the socialisation window of opportunity is very brief. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, the socialisation period for puppies lasts from just 3 weeks of age to 16 weeks of age.

Miss that window, and you’ve missed your best opportunity for socialising your dog. As the dog gets older, it will be much more difficult to teach it to be comfortable with new experiences – in some cases, even impossible.


Determining what your puppy should be exposed to during socialisation takes some planning on your part. Think about the things that you expect to be a regular part of your dog’s life.

If you expect to be taking road trips with your dog, for example, the socialisation period is the time to familiarize it with car travel. If young children will be a part of the dog’s life, it should have lots of exposure to young children during its socialisation period.

It’s a good idea to create a checklist of all the people, types of animals, and experiences with which you want your dog to develop a level of comfort. And then make sure you work your way through the entire list before the socialisation period comes to an end.


Puppies are more excepting of new experiences during the socialisation period. They’re more likely to be inquisitive than frightened during this time of their lives. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t overdue it.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your puppy’s socialisation period:

  • Keep a close eye on your puppy’s reactions and body language during any socialisation period. If your puppy seems frightened, tone down the activity or take a break.
  • Consider taking your pet to a puppy kindergarten class. These are classes that are designed specifically for early socialisation training. Pick the right class, and you pup will get lots of carefully supervised exposure to a broad array of people, animals, sights, sounds and experiences.
  • Party! Invite friends and neighbors over for a meet-the-pup party, with games and music. And let everyone gently pet your pup. Keep a close eye on your dog to be sure that it’s not becoming overwhelmed by the experience.

Be aware, too, that your puppy’s socialisation period will begin and end before your puppy has completed its series of puppy shots. So you’ll want to take some care in how and where you expose your puppy to different experiences.

Avoid places like public dog parks or other areas that might be frequented by dogs of questionable or unknown health status. (A puppy class offered by a reputable business is considered safe by most vets.)


Some breeds are more accepting of new experiences than others, even during the socialisation period. But regardless of the breed of your dog, you’ll never have a better opportunity to help your dog be comfortable with sharing your life fully.

Make the most of those precious few weeks, and make life better both for you and your dog for years to come.

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Dr Eloise is a Clinical Lead at Love That Pet and one of our resident pet care experts. She also curates the select range of vet recommended and approved products which feature on our site.
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