By Jamie Palmer
Assuming there are no football matches, the Elsworthy Terrance entrance is the perfect spot to take a puppy out onto Primrose Hill. This entrance is less manic than the popular entrance at the corner of Primrose Hill road and Regent’s Park road. There are fewer people & dogs. Owners come here to play fetch, amble, or just to get away from the crowds out for the view. There’s also good availability for pay and display parking directly opposite in Lower Merton Rise.
I find most owners here are more in control of their dogs, and less likely to be on the phone. It can be a great place to approach dogs for interaction, as you can observe them at a distance first. Always ask owners if their dog would be happy to say hello to your puppy. Most people will be open if they feel it’s safe.
Trust your judgement and don’t be afraid to move away if you feel it isn’t going well. A lot of dogs don’t like puppies, so don’t be upset if you get an outright rejection. Ultimately it’s about your puppy’s safety.
If you live in Primrose Hill, the obvious choice for outings will be the Hill, because it’s on your doorstep. But before taking a puppy here, it’s good to remember that this is also a famous landmark and tourist attraction. It’s about a level 10 on the puppy socialisation scale. We need to be very confident our puppy can handle such a place with all its chaos and uncertainties.
Primrose Hill attracts lots of people, and in concentrated areas. It’s hard to predict what you will encounter, regardless of the time of day. Dogs often appear from nowhere at pace, seemingly without anyone with them, or paying any attention to what they do. For a puppy that’s a problem. There’s no time to manage or choose which interactions you want and which you don’t. Preferably you want space and clear sight of what’s coming, so you can get an idea of what’s approaching.
The rule of thumb is quality not quantity. Don’t be afraid to pick your puppy up to get them out of a sticky situation.
Most owners feel some uncertainty about socialisation, because of the limitations that come with vaccinations. Puppies then only get exposure to new things late, or when their owner is going about their daily life. Most dog trainers agree this is a missed opportunity you won’t get back later. If you want the best for your puppy, time has to be put aside to focus solely on new experiences. This can be done safely.
Puppies have a small window of time where they are more likely to register new experiences as positive. Miss that window and it becomes harder for your puppy to become comfortable with the unfamiliar. In some cases this can lead to being the owner of a fearful unpredictable dog. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Socialising your puppy is not necessarily about puppies meeting other puppies, although it’s often nice when it happens. It’s about building trust, and teaching your puppy to be okay with anything they’re exposed to in their world. This means introducing a variety of people, dogs, places, noises, smells, and body handling both in and out the home. This process then comes full circle by helping your dog integrate learnt behaviours back into the environment.
Jamie has a website with plenty of doggy information: Uptown Dogs