Early socialisation, allowed by early vaccination, is vital to ensure a balanced and well-behaved adult dog – current thinking is that many young dogs are put down because of behavioural problems that could be prevented by early socialisation.

All animals, including dogs, have a period of learning at the start of their lives that affects their lifelong behaviour. During this time, they learn to accept the things around them so that they are not afraid of them later in life. From about three weeks of age, puppies will approach anything or anybody willingly and without fear; by the time they reach 12 weeks anything new will be approached with caution. Therefore, the critical time for getting a puppy used to its environment is between 3-12 weeks of age.

Puppy socialisation involves meeting and having pleasant encounters (with adults, children, dogs, other animals and noises/experiences) during this sensitive period of their lives and continuing until adulthood. To be a successful pet, dogs need to get on well with other living creatures as well as cope with a variety of everyday experiences. Puppies that are well socialised tend to grow up to be friendly and happy with people and animals, taking different situations in their stride and enjoying going anywhere with their owners. Sadly, not all puppies are so lucky. A puppy that has not received adequate socialisation and habituation may be fearful or aggressive towards people or other dogs, have anxiety in certain situations, or develop behavioural problems.

Vaccination is essential prior to early socialisation as this means puppies can play with other dogs without the fear of certain potentially fatal diseases. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, it should not be allowed to mix with unvaccinated dogs or be walked in areas where other dogs have been.

Nobivac® DHP can protect your puppy from as early as 11 weeks of age against three core pathogens (canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus type 1 and type 2 and canine parvovirus), and this allows for early socialisation. Talk to your veterinarian about a Nobivac vaccination programme and tools such as the socialisation brochure and weekly activity chart to help with the benefits of early socialisation.