Puppy And Kitten Socialization
Socialisation begins with your puppy from the moment they are born from their mother and interaction with their siblings. Puppies are extremely dependent on their mothers for the first weeks of their lives. They learn important social skills from their mother and siblings so it is vital that they are not taken from their mother before six to eight weeks. Between 3 to 12 weeks puppies should be introduced to humans. Each puppy should be given daily individual attention in order for them to have positive interaction with people for when it is time to leave their mother and siblings.
If puppies are separated from a litter too soon, some health and behavioural problems can arise such as decreased learning ability, separation anxiety, poor physical condition and decreased weight gain. However, tempting it may be to give new - born puppies to their new human family when the puppies are born, it is a crucial time in their lives to be with their mother and siblings. If this timeline is not followed puppies could develop problems in later life and the mother can experience medical problems.
During their first six to eight-week period with their mother, supplemental feeding should be given and the final weaning should take place, as it is important that weaning from the mother be a gradual process for both the mother’s health and the health of her puppies.
When you take your puppy home remember that the first 12 weeks are the most important and they have experienced six to eight weeks learning from their mother so it is your job to add new experiences to their daily lives, but, that does not mean that you are finished when you get to week 12, as it is important to expose your puppy to new things through to, and throughout adulthood. This is critical for their mental health and future confidence and happiness which can reduce aggressive and fearful behaviour. When a puppy feels safe, they are curious and intrigued with life and their outside world which is a joy to be part of.
The more relaxed your puppy is the more happy they are in engaging in different experiences. They do not have to have close or prolonged contact with new things or people, the quality of the exposure is critical and a happy puppy grows into a happy dog. The time that you spend with your puppy socializing should be fun for both of you. Be relaxed and calm and until your puppy is fully vaccinated it should be held in your arms and as much as possible only interact with vaccinated dogs. Being with other dogs makes your puppy more sociable and will be at ease with other dogs. A visit to the groomer helps your puppy to become accustomed to other people.
Puppy parties are educational and fun where your puppy will be introduced to a whole range of new experiences in a safe comfortable fun way with new friends. These parties are relaxed and the puppies seem very happy accepting new things . Puppy parties provide a safe place for them to socialise providing positive encounters with other puppies and also meet new people, men, women and children, new sights and sounds and smells. Attending a puppy party at your veterenary surgery gives your puppy a positive association for future visits.
Just like mother and toddler groups it is so funny as I have been told by friends who have attended these parties with their young pups that they were hoping that their puppy would not be the naughty boistrous one. I was also told about a puppy party where two sibling pups from a shelter were reunited when they met at a party and ran straight to each other. Puppies can attend until they are sixteen weeks old
When you are introducing your puppy to new experiences, talk to him, give treats and keep a distance from the things that you are showing him so he can watch from a comfortable distance before he is ready to explore. Exposure to new things must always be calm and relaxed and wait for your puppy to engage. If they are curious, they will move towards what they are seeing. If they are timid and cautious wait and go back to it at another time. Just being around noises, animals, and people will eventually become familiar and safe. Never stay near to something that is frightening to your puppy and you will know if they are afraid by tucking their tail in and trying to move away barking or whining as you do not want to create a lasting fear. In all situations should be comfortable and safe for your puppy.
There are so many things to introduce when socialising such as different surfaces, grass, carpet, wood, gravel, tarmac. Kitchen utensils and their noise, vacuum cleaners, the lawn mower, letters dropping through letter boxes, cars, and moving bicycles are just a few things, the list goes on and on from day to day. Lots of new experiences.
Puppies do go through fear periods. These are developmental stages so if your puppy seems afraid of something previously taken in their stride, take a step back from the socialisation by providing treats and cuddles and other happy experiences. Fear periods often pass in a week or two. Your puppy is like a sponge so make sure they only soak up positive experiences.
Kittens like puppies have a prime socialisation period and like puppies learn to be less fearful in unfamiliar situations and changes in their environment. New experiences with rewards can also be very helpful to create a confident kitten. The main socialisation window for a kitten is from 2 to 7 weeks. Kittens must get used to being handled at a young age so It is so important to choose a breeder that will provide your kitten with a variety of expereinces during those early weeks playing and interacting with the kittens spending time each day to help the kittens interact with humans to enable the kitten to become curious and confident ready for their new home, as they are not brought into your family home until they are seven to eight weeks old.
Kittens also need protection from infectious diseases and parasites before they begin socialising with other animals. During the first 16 weeks kittens can be introduced to new people and situations but you should follow your veterinarians advice as to when it is safe to expose your kitten to other cats.
You should help your kitten to become more accustomed to being handled by different people, children and interaction with other animals , sounds and smells with positive reinforcement. Every experience you expose your kitten to must be positive without fear at a pace that allows your kitten to remain relaxed. Once your kitten is happy at home gradually get them used to the environment. A car ride in their crate to the vets office and a visit to a groomer can be help. Showing them the outside garden, sights and sounds, birds flying around, traffic noise if in a City and farm animals nearby if in the countryside.
Animals not properly socialized become adult animals with an increased sensitivity to new experiences frightened of new people or animals. This can result in hostility or violence due to fear. and can lead to difficulties in day to day life as adult dogs and cats.
Always ask your veterinary surgeon for advice about socialisation and if there are any products that they can offer to help make this period easier.
Flower essences are very helpful in calming and making your puppy or kitten feel more secure during this crucial period in their lives.
The Scintilla Range of Essences that I created for Animals
This essence has been created to affectionately support animals who have not been socialised to the world they live in. This is often the case when animals have been taken away from their mothers and siblings too early. It is a modern misconception that eight weeks is the optimal time for a kitten or puppy to leave their home. This is a crucial socialisation period when animals learn from their mother and family about how to be a cat or dog. If this window of learning is disrupted and your animal has not experienced the right experiences, what you will have is an animal that may exhibit certain fearful behaviours such as fear, aggression, uncertainty, lack of confidence, and they may lack communication skills when conversing with other animals. A side effect of this essence is that it can help to shift a memory developed out of a trauma that is still present in the psyche many years later. The Socialisation Essence is made from a blend of Bailey, Bach and Verbeia Flower Essences. It contains flower essences such as Rock Rose and Lily of the Valley and others to support the change needed to become confident and certain of their environment.
The Fear Essence for puppies going through the fearful period and cats in fearful situations
This Fear Essence has been lovingly created to support animals who are in a state of fear when faced with a situation that they are terrified of and especially helpful when your puppy is going through a fear period. The reason for the fear may not be apparent to us but the behaviours exhibited are usually the same: shaking, panting and hiding. Fear has a knock-on effect on our animal’s health in other ways. The Fear Essence is made from a blend of Bailey, Bach and Verbeia Flower Essences. It contains flower essences such as Aspen and Bracken and others to support the change needed so that courage can blossom, just as any beautiful flower would.