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Socialisation. It looks and sounds like a big, important word. And indeed it is, when it comes to ensuring that your puppy will mature into a friendly, adult dog that'll live life to the full.
Now that you've taken on your puppy, you owe it to them to make sure they grow into a well adjusted dog, happy in the company of people and other animals.
You can't start socialising soon enough
The benefits of early socialisation cannot be overemphasised, but the good news is, it's easy and can be fun for both of you. All you have to do is take them out and about as much as you can and as soon as possible - after their first vaccinations. A word of caution - try not to do too much too soon; build up your puppy's new experiences slowly at first.
Your puppy and other people
It might be stating the obvious, but people come in different shapes and sizes - and ideally - your puppy should encounter them all. Get them used to strangers, but be careful they don't overwhelm your new pet in their show of affection.
It's important that your puppy becomes acquainted with children, too. Even if there aren't any children in the house. Don't forget that puppies can become tired quickly, so make sure that meeting times with other people are kept quite short, and give your puppy time to rest.
Let your puppy go to the dogs
A crucial aspect of socialisation is the introduction of your puppy to other dogs and indeed, other puppies. However, it's important that they meet other animals that you know are well socialised; a nasty experience can have a lifelong effect on a youngster.
By being around adult dogs, your puppy will learn to respect their elders, even going so far as being "told off" by an older dog if they get a little over-excited. Be careful that your puppy doesn't become overwhelmed by a bigger, playful dog. The last thing you want is for them to be frightened, so make sure you're on hand to crouch down to their level and provide a safe haven if necessary.
There's no reason why your puppy shouldn't meet other four-legged friends, such as cats, horses and even farm animals. This kind of exposure will pay dividends as your puppy grows into a confident, friendly adult dog.
Your puppy and other places
As part of the socialisation process, get your puppy used to a variety of environments, sights and sounds. To a pet that socialises well with humans, this should happen naturally. Getting them used to cities, the countryside, traffic and car travel should be an enjoyable experience for both of you; just remember not to do too much all at once.
If you would like more detailed information about socialising, your vet will be happy to recommend further reading. You might like to consider enrolling on a puppy socialisation class which many vets hold. You can attend when your puppy is between 12 and 18 weeks old.