Puppy socialisation

Position statement

Puppies must be able to interact with the environment and be socialised. Socialisation is a special learning process whereby an individual dog learns to accept the close proximity of other dogs, as well as members of other species. This goal is more likely to be achieved if a sound temperament is an essential consideration when selecting animals with which to breed. The learning opportunities provided to breeding dogs and their offspring also play a significant role in animals realising their full potential as suitable companions.

Socialisation of puppies should take place between 3 and 12 weeks of age.

 Breeding animals should be given the opportunity to display their innate behaviour to allow selection for sociability to occur. Breeders must provide optimal behavioural enrichment, including physical and mental exercise, as well as appropriate social opportunities with other animals and people and other environmental enrichment.

 A pet that can live harmoniously with others has potential benefits for owners, the broader community and the pet itself. It is particularly important that breeders and owners take advantage of the critical periods for socialisation of young animals. A small amount of experience at this critical time can have a significant impact on future behaviour. Offspring produced must be reared to maximise their ability to integrate into society by providing the opportunity for positive associations with a broad range of environmental stimuli in a non-threatening manner, socialisation and appropriate handling.  

Prospective owners should be informed of the socialisation, training and exercise requirements of the breed and individual animal and counselled on its suitability to their requirements.

Other relevant policies and position statements

 Socially responsible companion animal ownership

Date of ratification by AVA Board:  January 2010

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