Week 1: Socialisation

So, you've embarked on the adventure of a lifetime by welcoming a furry buddy into your world. Exciting times ahead, right?

Well, buckle up because we're diving into week 1 of Happi Doggi's 10 Week Challenge to Bark More, Live Better or in other words, to give you the knowledge and tools to give your dog the BEST life possible.

This week, we're diving deep into the world of socialisation.

Now at its core, socialisation is all about getting your pup used to new experiences—like meeting other dogs, hanging out with new people, and checking out different situations to develop their confidence and adaptability.

Why Socialisation Matters

Socialisation isn't just a fancy term tossed around by dog trainers—it's a fundamental aspect of raising a well-rounded and happy pup.

By exposing your dog to a wide range of stimuli, you're laying the groundwork for a lifetime of positive interactions and reducing the likelihood of fear-based behaviours.

Imagine a dog who greets new situations with curiosity rather than fear, who plays nicely with other dogs at the park, and who welcomes visitors into your home with a wagging tail.

Socialisation isn't just about teaching your pup to play nicely with others (though that's certainly part of it). It's also about helping them feel comfortable and confident in the big, wide world.

A well-socialised dog is more likely to be friendly and relaxed around strangers, less prone to anxiety and fear-based behaviours, and better equipped to handle new and unfamiliar situations.


 Happi Doggi Bark Better Live Better - Socialisation Bingo 



Why Start Early?

They say the early bird catches the worm, and the same holds true for socialisation.

Puppies are most receptive to new experiences between the ages of 3 and 14 weeks, a critical period known as the "sensitive period." During this time, their brains are primed for learning, making it the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the world.

But what if you have an older dog? Fear not! While socialising older dogs may require more patience and persistence, it's never too late to start the process. With consistency and positive reinforcement, older dogs can learn to embrace new experiences and overcome their fears.

How To Socialise Your Dog

Now that we understand why socialisation is essential, let's explore how to make it happen:

  1. Start Early:

    The sooner you begin socialising your pup, the better.

    Take advantage of the sensitive period in puppyhood to expose them to new people, animals, and environments.

    This because during this time, puppies are most receptive to bonding and adapting to new environments and experiences.

    It is a this stage that it is also generally easier to handle and comfort a puppy compared to when they are an adult dog.

  2. Be Consistent:

    Let’s say that you want to learn how to play the guitar.

    The first time you pick up that guitar, it would probably feel a little awkward and producing a clear melodious sound, is likely to seem nearly impossible!

    But, as you practice consistently, you will start to see improvements.

    However, you also probably would get quite frustrated once in a while when you can’t quite get that chord progression right or play a piece smoothly.

    It would take time and repetition to develop the muscle memory and coordination to play proficiently.

    Yet, with each practice session, you will become more comfortable, more skilled until eventually, you will be able to play songs effortlessly.

    The same principle applies to socialising your dog.

    Exposing your pup to new experiences only once in a while is not going to be enough. You will have to make it a daily habit to introduce your dog to new experiences.

    This can be anything such as a a bath, trimming their nails, a car ride, a walk in the park, a visit to the vet or inviting your friend over.

    It may not feel like a lot, but the consistency will help your dog learn and adapt more quickly.

  3. Take it Slow:

    Doing something new for the first time can be a little scary!

    But the more you do it, the less scary it will become.

    It is good to remember that very dog will learn at their own pace, so make sure to be patient and go at your dog’s speed.

    If at any point, they show signs of fear or anxiety, take a step back until they feel at ease. Do not push them as this is not going to be beneficial for them. See how you can make the situation less scary for them and take baby steps when trying again.

  4. Stay Positive

    How you interact and handle situations will have a massive impact on your dog.

    Your dog will pick up on your emotional state, and link this to the situation that you are in.

    It is therefore crucial for you to adapt a positive mindset and to aim for all your interactions and encounters to be positive for your furry friend. Depending on your dog, how this looks can be very differently.

    Shower your pup with praise, treats, and affection whenever they encounter something new, helping them associate new experiences with positive emotions.

Dog Socialising With HumanPup Being Exposed To Other People

Where To Socialise Your Dog

Socialisation can take place anywhere and everywhere, from the vet's office to your own home. Here are some top spots to consider:

  • The Vet: Despite its reputation as a stressful environment, the vet's office is an excellent place to socialise your pup. Take them for regular check-ups and vaccinations, and reward them with treats and praise to create positive associations.

  • Friend’s and Family’s Homes: Visiting friends and family members provides opportunities for your pup to meet new people and pets in a familiar setting. Make it a playdate and bring along their favourite toys and treats for added fun.

  • Your Own Home: Your home is your dog's safe haven, making it the perfect place to introduce them to new experiences. Invite guests over to meet your pup, and work on grooming and handling exercises to prepare them for future vet visits.

  • Puppy Classes: Puppy classes offer structured socialisation opportunities in a controlled environment. Look for classes that focus on positive reinforcement and force-free training methods, and watch your pup blossom alongside their furry classmates.

Avoid Dog Parks

While dog parks might seem like the ideal location to socialise your furry companion, they're not always the best choice. Not at least until your dog has build up a lot of positive experiences elsewhere.

The reason being that in a dog park, you have little control over the behaviour of other dogs or their owners for that matter!

Some owners let their overly aggressive, poorly socialised or inappropriately playful dog off lead, often not considering how their dog’s actions might impact you (especially if you have a sensitive pup) often accompanied by the “Oh, he is friendly” shout as they are unable to recall their dog.

Great Danes Meeting At The Dog ParkDogs Meeting At The Park

This can lead to negative interactions and potentially traumatic experiences for your dog.

A negative experience can have lasting effects on your dog’s behaviour and confidence which will make future socialisation efforts more challenging.


Congratulations, you're now equipped with the knowledge and tools to kickstart your dog's socialisation journey!

Remember to stay consistent, positive, and patient, and don't forget to download your bingo card to track your progress on this challenge.

And maybe it is time for you to do a bit of socialising yourself!

You can do this by following us on Instagram or TikTok for more tips and adorable dog content. And if you're up for some fun, check out our own dogs, Louie & Monti, on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube for a peek into their daily adventures.

Lastly, feel free to share pictures of your pup's socialisation adventures with us on social media using @happidoggiuk and/or #barkbetterlivebetterchallenge

We can't wait to see your furry friend thrive and grow into a confident, well-socialised companion. Here's to many happy adventures together!

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