What Is Pet Socialisation

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Does your dog become uncontrollable and aggressive whenever they see strangers? Or does your cat spend a lot of time hiding under the bed? It’s normal for animals to react differently when they’re uncomfortable or frightened. Some might exhibit hostile behaviour such as growling or biting, while others may hide or shake and shiver. Pets with shy, reserved, and unpredictable behaviours are often the result of not being socialised properly from an early age.

In order to understand the importance of pet socialization, we must first clarify exactly what ‘socialisation’ means.

What does ‘socialising a pet’ mean?

The term “socialisation” can be misleading because it suggests teaching a new kitten or puppy how to interact with other animals, but it actually refers to much more. When it comes to socialising a pet, we mean teaching him or her to behave well in the presence of people and animals. This makes it easier for your pet to adjust to a new environment and be comfortable in new situations. Relaxed and confident pets are less likely to become aggressive, thus reducing the chances that they will be injured in an altercation with another animal, domestic or wild.

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A new puppy or kitten doesn’t just become well-adjusted on their own, it takes time and practice for them to become socialised and tolerant towards different situations and environments. Gently introducing puppies and kittens to situations they may face as adults is known as socialisation. You should keep in mind, however, that your pet’s breed, personality, and health are also important factors that can affect the way they behave, even if they have been socialised properly.

It is not uncommon for some cats and dogs to be as less keen as others when it comes to socialising. Socialisation has nothing to do with teaching your pets to love these interactions, but it has to do with teaching them how to handle and adapt to unfamiliar surroundings.

Getting your pet socialised is important

When pets are socialized properly at an early age, they grow into happier and healthier adult pets. Spend some time introducing your puppy or kitten to new experiences, and make sure to praise, play, and use other positive reinforcement techniques to reward them.

Though kittens are independent, they still require their mother’s care and attention. New kittens may experience separation anxiety if you take them too soon from their mothers. Cats have a more independent nature than dogs, but they are still similar to puppies when they are young.

It’s crucial to start socialising your dog and cat as soon as possible. Here are some advantages of socialising with your pet early.

The benefits of socializing your pet

The ability to get along with other pets or animals

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When your pet is socialized from a young age, they will be able to interact with other animals throughout their lives without overstepping boundaries and causing problems. With a properly socialized pet, you won’t have to worry about introducing them to other pets or your friends’ pets, whether it’s a day out at the park or a pet event.

The ability to get along with humans

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Don’t limit your pet’s socialisation to animals alone, introduce them to a variety of people as well, as this will prevent them from becoming aggressive when strangers come to your house. Get your pet used to being around people of all ages, especially those with beards, glasses, and/or hats. Without proper socialization, these things can be frightening to your pet.

A well-socialized pet is more confident
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A well-socialized pet will be more confident when interacting with new people and situations. It’s your responsibility as a pet owner to make sure your pet feels safe when it’s out discovering new things. When pets feel safe, their confidence will increase as well.

Grooming is easier with well-socialised pets

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Pets who are anxious do not enjoy grooming, especially by strangers. A regular grooming schedule is crucial to the health and happiness of your pet since the majority of cat and dog breeds require frequent grooming to keep their skin and coats in good condition. Pets that are not properly socialised may become aggressive around groomers and may dislike being touched. As a result of the anxiety they feel, they are at risk of injury as well as having a more difficult time with grooming sessions.

Socialization enables more play and exercise

With a well-socialized pet, you won’t need to worry about how they will react to other pets and humans when you take them for walks and playtime. Keeping your pet fit and healthy through exercise might be challenging if you don’t get your pet properly socialised at a young age.

A socialized pet is less prone to anxiety and fear

Dogs that don’t receive adequate socialization are more likely to experience anxiety and fear. This can be triggered by anything from strangers to a loud street or young children. This is why it’s necessary to introduce your pet to different environments, animals and people, as well as sounds and sights from a young age.

Travelling with socialized pets is easier

Give your new kitten or new puppy plenty of car journeys so that they can become used to the idea of travelling. If your pet is unaccustomed to travelling, even a short trip will be difficult for them, which can lead to panic attacks, fear and stomach upset.

When should you socialise with your pet?

Socialising your pet is a process which involves exposing them to a variety of people, places, objects, and animals. You can do this most effectively and successfully when they are kittens or puppies.

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For kittens, the best time for socialisation should start between 3 to 9 weeks old, while puppies should begin between 3 to 20 weeks old. It would be best if kittens could be kept close to their mothers during this period, if possible.

Provide your pets with positive socialisation experiences, this lets them enjoy and learn at the same time.

Tips for socialising your pet

As your pets go through socialisation training, they will always remember the experiences they have had. When they see something pleasant or terrifying, their brain will make a strong association with what’s happening around them.

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  • Make pet socialisation a pleasant experience for your pet by giving them plenty of praise and treats. You will be able to engage and motivate your pet much more easily if you make socialisation a fun, rewarding activity.
  • Get help and support socialising your pet by taking part in pet training sessions.
  • Take it slow, one step at a time. You can introduce your pet to different people by starting with your family first and then moving on to close friends and relatives, etc.

Things to look out for during pet socialisation

  • Signs of fear and aggression – Your pet may not be feeling comfortable if you see that their fur is raised, their tail moving back and forth, and their ears are turned back.
  • While watching your dog, keep an eye out for hunting behaviours. Your dog and cat may not be ready to be left alone together if your dog keeps eyeing the cat.
  • Before exposing your pets to new people and animals, consider their temperament. If you have a vicious dog, do not bring it into a house it is unfamiliar with. Similarly, if you have an aggressive cat, avoid allowing other animals or people into its territory.
  • Consider the pet’s activity level and age. If you have senior pets, bringing home a hyper kitten or puppy may be stressful for them.

Depending on the pet, some will get along immediately, while others will take more time to learn and socialise with other pets. It can be a long and difficult process to socialise a cat or dog; however, once they are trained, all your efforts will be well worth it.

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