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SOCIALISATION

Getting along

with everyone

Socialisation is the first step in raising a well-behaved pet, particularly if your pet is a dog. During the first weeks and months of their lives, animals go through a critical period of development. When animals are exposed to new people, places, situations and other animals in a positive way during this period, there’s a good chance they’ll be calm and accepting when they experience them again later in life. Dogs

Ask your vet for advice on the best way to do this in your

Your puppy should meet and interact with as many types of

own family’s environment. Kitten socialisation classes are

people, animals and environments as possible. By the time

also now available, and as well as socialising your kitten to

he reaches about four months old, your puppy should have

other kittens and people, the classes teach owners how to

learnt to accept being petted by strangers, meeting other

look after their kittens, why kittens do certain things, and

dogs, being handled by a veterinarian or groomer, and

give information on various subjects including grooming,

meeting a wide variety of people. Puppy socialisation should

handling and health.

take place when your dog is between eight and 16 weeks old. Because puppies have not received all their vaccinations,

Horses

you should talk to your veterinarian about when it’s safe to

Speak to the breeder or your trainer about socialising your

expose your puppy to new people and places.

foal – it entails much more than we can succinctly present

Socialisation should involve as many people, other dogs and

here. It should include the basics like accepting a halter,

animals, and situations as possible. Introduce your puppy to

backing and basic (riding) training with an experienced

a wide variety of people, including men, women, children of

trainer. It’s best not to attempt this on your own.

all ages, people in wheelchairs, men with beards, and people wearing all kinds of clothing (uniforms, sunglasses, raincoats

Birds

and umbrellas, hats and gloves), and people of different skin

Many pet bird owners don’t realise that their feathered

colour to yours. Your puppy should also be introduced to

friend needs interaction. They are much like babies. For

other puppies of different breeds and sizes.

example, a pet cockatiel has the intelligence of a three-

Puppy training classes are a great way to enhance your

year-old, therefore you need to spend time with them and

puppy’s socialisation. The classes should touch on the usual

allow for play times as well as cuddle times during the day.

concerns of the new puppy parent, like housetraining and

However, different bird species and breeds have different

curbing destructive behaviour. A good puppy kindergarten

needs. Speak to your vet or breeder for advice about your

will also help your puppy to get comfortable with new

specific bird’s needs.

people, new situations and being handled by a range of people. This is also the perfect place for your pup to learn

Rodents

how to interact with other dogs. Your veterinarian or local

Rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils should be bought when they

animal shelter should be able to help you find a good puppy

are young, around six weeks or so. This helps ensure they

kindergarten class.

become properly socialised and attached to their humans. Delaying contact and handling of your pet rodent may result

Cats

in snippy or aggressive behaviour. This is usually a response

Cat socialisation centres mostly on litter-training (which

brought on by fear rather than anything else.

generally comes pretty naturally after some positive reinforcement), and exposure to a range of people in a very

Exotic pets

calm and safe environment. Also ensure you introduce your

The needs of different species vary significantly. Speak to

kitten to all members of your family (including other pets) in

the breeder or your vet to determine what is appropriate

a way that is positive for the kitten to avoid problems later.

for your specific pet.

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Responsible Pet Ownership

Getting along with everyone: Pets and Socialisation  

Getting along with everyone Pets and Socialisation