Number 1 – How do puppies like to move into social interaction?
To me, this is different than how does a puppy socially interact, it’s about engagement, not dissimilar to how we might initially meet people.
Some people when they meet might hug you or not, they may offer their hand to shake, some are kissers and some have a personal bubble that all of the above might be considered to cross all manner of boundaries.
I find puppies the same.
I often observe puppies doing all manner of things when attempting to navigate the intricacies of social interaction.
Some might move away and take their time to survey the social setting. Others might move in boldly and offer a required play bow to kick off the social invitation. A butt sniff or a stealthy rear end sniff of another puppy may occur or the ‘bull in the china shop’, racing in and blind siding their prospective participants.
But why is it imperative that you learn your puppies preferences for engaging in social interaction?
Let’s say your puppy takes it’s time to move into social interaction, then pairing your puppy with say a bull in a china shop is not a good social pairing, to do so means we are already putting our puppy on the path to an unsuccessful interaction.
Selecting players of a similar style is critical in this early social learning period and a vital contributing factor in setting up for social success.
Behaviour is ‘dynamic’, meaning that it is constantly changing and there are numerous factors that influence what is occurring at that time, on that day and in that specific environment.
Understanding that changes of environment can create different responses just the same as different players can create a different play dynamic is important for us to learn. Again if we think about humans as an example, you might be more comfortable or confident in an intimate social setting as opposed to a large, loud setting which might make you feel more reserved or shy, so take the time to find out the various changes that might occur for your puppy when you change the environment.
Here is a comment that we get almost weekly from our puppy owners that relates to environment, ’but my puppy is boisterous, confident and out going at home’ but they get that same puppy at puppy school and their puppies behaviour is different to what they are used to.
What we might learn from this specific example is that our puppy may not be as engaging initially in a new environment, knowing this will absolutely help you adjust the situation to help your puppies specific social needs.
So tell us how your puppy chooses to engage in social interaction, I’ve popped a couple of typical examples that I use to describe what I see during initial puppy engagement –
- Observer – takes it’s time to engage
- Bull dozer – races into social engagement
- Run away – doesn’t want to socially engage
- Butt sniffer – this is pretty obvious guys
- Stealthy sniffer – sniffs another puppy from behind
There are other examples but these are quite common and using terms that will make it easier for you to work out which is your puppy.