Lockdown – the best thing that’s happened to puppies in years!

Martin Clunes, I love you, but you’re wrong about the mythical time period by when if your puppy hasn’t romped around with loads of different puppies he is ruined for life!  There is no such thing as the ‘16-week window of socialisation’ and actually it can be completely overwhelming and destructive to the puppy’s confidence and to the bond of the family if a puppy is pushed into too many experiences too early from the ‘socialisation checklist’ seen in many books.

Sadly, because of this common misconception, I worry that in a few months time there will be such a category as “the lockdown puppy” and I can imagine this title will be used to explain poor behaviour of that dog in the future!  A bit like the misconception that if you don’t walk your dog enough he will chew the house up (it might work but only through the dog being exhausted, not because the root cause of anxiety has been solved).

If you think about it, it is not actually natural for the young of any animal on this planet to socialise with the young of another family… most never do.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t do what we can to teach them and help them be great canine citizens coping well with our human lifestyles, but I am saying take your time with your individual puppy, patiently teaching him that he can trust in YOU first.  Then you can venture out into the outside world gaining experiences and having beautiful adventures together.  There is no rush.  There certainly isn’t a 16-week window.  Please don’t feel the pressure of this like I did with Chili.  It was my first and possibly most serious mistake in (not) establishing our bond nearly 10 years ago!

Ultimately, you do not need to force socialisation upon your pup.  Take as much time as you need with your “lockdown puppy” to understand each other first… is your puppy outgoing and adventurous or cautious and shy?  Ensure they feel safe with you, trust in your decisions and choose their first experiences wisely, somewhere you can easily supervise and be able step in if necessary to teach what is and isn’t acceptable as they test out new friendships.


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