The behavioural effects of a puppy socialisation training program were evaluated in 58 purebred and 10 crossbreed puppies. Each subject was randomly allocated to one of five groups: Socialisation plus Training (S and T, n = 12), Socialisation (n = 10), Training (n = 13), Feeding (n = 12) and Control (n = 11). The S and T group received a full training program which included both operant training for commands (come, sit, stay, drop and heel) and social interaction with other puppies during four, weekly 1 h sessions. Subjects in the training or socialisation groups received either the commands or socialisation aspects of the program. The feeding group received food items equivalent in amount to those given to the previous three groups during weekly attendance at the training centre. The control group only attended the centre for rating. A series of rating scales assessed the puppies' responses to novel, social, handling and commands stimuli. All puppies were tested prior to the program (baseline), after the second and fourth sessions, and 4 to 6 months after completion of the program. No groups differed significantly at baseline on any of the scales. Puppies in the S and T and training groups received significantly higher ratings for their responses to commands at 2 and 4 weeks. There were no significant group effects on any of the other scales. Although the program was successful in training the puppies on commands, experiencing additional social interaction (play) with other puppies did not lead to significant changes in responses to social stimuli as assessed by the rating scales. Additionally, the exposure to novel or handling stimuli in the context of the program did not significantly improve responses in comparison to animals without such exposure. The data suggest that socialisation and training programs may be useful as a starting point for assessing possible problematic behaviour in puppies and are effective in producing well trained dogs.
- Temperament test