Puppy Socialisation Plan launches to get Britain's dogs
back on track!
Almost one in five dog owners admit that they are never or
rarely in control of their dogs when out on a walk and half claim
to be embarrassed by their dog's behavior in public, according to
research from dog welfare organisations, the Kennel Club and Dogs
The research shows that puppies that weren't properly socialised
and introduced positively to new situations in the earliest months
of their life  are the most likely to give their owners trouble.
With 12% of dogs being given away due to easily avoidable behaviour
problems urgent action needs to be taken to give dogs a better
start in life.
Common problems that owners face on a frequent basis include their
dogs jumping at people (29%), their dogs being anxious of being
left alone (26%), their dogs being scared of people with facial
hair (18%) and their dogs being fearful of household appliances
(13%). A further 55% say that their dogs have been known to show
antisocial behaviour (such as barking, growling, snapping or
biting) towards other dogs, and 35% show antisocial behaviour
However, the research also showed that dogs who were
well-socialised and had positive experiences of other dogs,
children, a range of people and noises in the home and outside of
it, are significantly more likely to be well-mannered and confident
It showed that dogs that were not well socialised were 25 percent
more likely to show antisocial behavior (barking, growling,
snapping or biting) towards other dogs and almost twice as likely
to show antisocial behavior towards people, than those dogs that
had been well socialised as a puppies. On many occasions these
antisocial tendencies are driven by anxiety or fear, with dogs that
were poorly socialised as pups being three times more likely to
show anxiety around new people, and twice as likely to show anxiety
around other dogs and new household noises, compared to those that
were well socialised.
To help tackle the problem of poor socialisation, the Kennel Club
and Dogs Trust have launched the first ever step-by-step Puppy
Socialisation Plan for breeders, rehoming centres and then new
owners to follow. The plan lays out steps that will build puppies'
confidence around everything from household appliances and traffic
noises, to new ground surfaces, and a range of people, from those
with hats and beards, to children. The breeder or rescue home will
work through the first eight weeks, recording each step through a
series of diary entries, photos or videos and this is then passed
onto the new owner to continue.
Carolyn Menteith, a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor who
developed the plan for the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, said:
"The first four months of a pup's life are when a puppy is
developing his soft skills - in other words his social behaviours
and how he responds to new and novel things. Failure to expose them
to a wide range of different experiences in this early period means
that they often struggle to deal with new situations later
"A lot of the problems that we see in dogs, from aggression to all
the behaviours that arise through fear such as noise phobias and
separation issues - as well as poor learning skills and many
training problems - can be prevented if they are given lots of
positive new experiences from the very beginning."
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "We must remember
that most behavioural problems in dogs, including aggression, noise
phobia, separation anxiety, over-reactivity and learning problems,
are not down to the dog wanting to be bad but are often because
they are fearful, anxious or struggling to know how they should
deal with a situation. This research overwhelmingly shows that
putting in the hard miles at the beginning, when it comes to early
socialisation and exposure to new experiences, will reap rewards in
terms of a dog's future behaviour and state of mind. We trialled
the Puppy Socialisation Plan amongst some of our Kennel Club
Assured Breeders and both breeders and dog owners who have used it
have said that they've never had such calm or well-adjusted dogs.
We urge breeders and puppy owners to use the plan so that dogs are
happier and more obedient, which will solve lots of problems in the
Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust Chief Executive, said: "One of the
major reasons that dogs are handed in to rehoming charities such as
Dogs Trust is behaviour issues - in many cases easily avoided
behaviour issues. Our specialist training & behaviour staff
work hard to help dogs with such problems and most are successfully
rehomed as a result. The Puppy Socialisation Plan is used across
our network of 18 rehoming centres and we encourage new owners to
continue the plan once their four-legged family member is home to
ensure they remain as happy and well-socialised as possible.
"Dogs are expected to fit into many different family units which
could include any combination of adults, children, dogs, cats and
much more. They will have to accept the often loud and
unpredictable sounds of their new homes; they will have to learn to
be left alone when we can't take them out; they need to learn not
to herd children, chase the cat, knock over granny, steal the
Sunday dinner, or threaten the postman, or anyone else! It's up to
us, as their carers, to provide them with the early groundwork in
order to cope with all the varieties of life."
To find out more about the Puppy Socialisation Plan visit www.thepuppyplan.com.
 Dog owners were asked whether their dogs were well socialised
and happy in most new situations when they first came into their
home or not well socialised, fearful and anxious in most new