Early socialisation is absolutely vital to ensure a balanced and well-behaved adult dog—especially when you realize that more juvenile dogs are put down because of behavioural problems than die from the diseases we vaccinate against.
Recommended Socialisation Schedule:
Birth: Puppy will be with dam and siblings, but should experience human scent (both male and female) at a very early stage.
3 Weeks: All environmental stimuli should be interesting and non-threatening to the pup. Breeder should expose the puppy to household noises (washing machine, vacuum, T.V). Start to accustom to a normal domestic environment. Plenty of handling: start grooming, mock vet examinations.
6-8 Weeks: Puppy normally transfers to owner. Should meet all the family (men, women, children, other pets and babies). Take it on car journeys. Expose to visitors of all shapes and sizes including the postman or milkman. Start to accustom to being left unattended. Add food to puppies bowl while it eats. First visit to the vet and vaccination. Consider starting socialising in controlled situations.
9 Weeks: Start to introduce stronger stimuli. Begin leash training. This is the ideal time for puppy socialization classes under veterinary supervision. Be aware not to put your puppy on the ground in public places, but it is safe to carry them for outings. Second visit to the vet.
12 Weeks: Ensure a broadening range of experiences. Avoid dogs that are aggressive or badly behaved in parks, as these may encourage fear or teach bad behavior. Lessons learnt can be forgotten unless you reinforce them. This should continue right up until social maturity—typically after 12 months of age. Try not to let a boisterous puppy be too much 'in the face' with other puppies or adult dogs particularly when meeting for the first time. Ensure new experiences are positive ones. Do not encourage 'growly' play that reinforces negative behavior traits.
5-7 Months: Socialisation is so important at this time to reduce the likelihood of 'fear imprinting'.