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Puppy Socialisation: What is My Puppy Trying to Say?

Posted on 27th September 2021

Golden Retriever puppy walking towards the camera in a field at dusk

How to read the body language of your new puppy

I was sat in a traffic jam the other day and watched a Golden Retriever puppy no older than 12 weeks old practically back out of their harness on the side of the road.

With every pull the owner gave them, they attempted to sit down, refusing to move… ears back, tail tucked under their body and clear signs of fright were all displayed. And the most scary thing: traffic, such as large lorries, buses and motorbikes speeding past.

Once I got to my destination, a large park with lots of dogs and people, I walked my dog and then had a cup of tea sat outside a cafe.

I then watched as a young Viszla possibly aged 12-18 months come crashing over to another dog lying quietly under the table with his owner. All of the drinks on the table went flying as the dog jumped repeatedly on the dog under the table. When the owner came over, he laughed and said “sorry, he loves other dogs!” as he casually walked away from the carnage.

Sadly, I witness this these scenarios of socialisation going wrong far too often.

The simple fact is, if you want socialisation to be successful you need to watch your puppy’s body language when you are out and about.

A puppy who is displaying fearful body language is not being socialised, no matter how much we think they will get used to it, they are scared and this will backfire later on.

A puppy who is beside themselves with excitement and out of control is not being socialised, they are being over stimulated like a kid in a chocolate factory.

Reading your puppy’s body language is not easy so here are our top tips to help:

  1. Go slowly
    Don’t rush and let your puppy sniff and explore, take your time so they can process what is going on around them
  2. Reward them anytime they choose to focus on you
    This will become a default behaviour when they don’t know what else to do
  3. Start with quiet places first
    Your puppy may know how to sit or listen at home but this goes out the window in noisy, busy environments, go to quiet places first so you don’t overwhelm your puppy
  4. Get help if you are stuck
    Go to a class or sign up to our online Simple Socialisation Formula © for step by step help

Finally download our Body Language Guide for further information.

Socialisation gets to be fun for you, your puppy and everyone around, enjoy it, puppyhood doesn’t last long!

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