Canine socialisation: a narrative systematic review

Victoria McEvoy*, Uri Baqueiro Espinosa, Andrew Crump, Gareth Arnott, Lynette A. Hart (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

357 Downloads (Pure)


Simple Summary: New dog owners are given a plethora of advice on how to socialise their puppy, but such advice is often outdated and based on very few experimental studies. The resulting inadequate socialisation can lead to behavioural problems in adult dogs. This review aims to describe all relevant literature regarding canine socialisation. Many of the 29 studies identified were retrospective owner-filled questionnaires, which are susceptible to bias. Few modern studies experimentally investigated the effects of different socialisation methods. We, therefore, recommend studies on the minimum necessary level of socialisation and breed differences in the optimum timing for socialisation. We hope this future research helps owners and breeders to produce well-adjusted dogs. Abstract: There are over 10 million pet dogs in the UK alone, and they have become a member of modern human families. If not properly socialised as puppies, dogs have a higher risk of problematic behaviours during adulthood, yet socialisation studies are lacking. Much of the experimental research was carried out at least 50 years ago, and the importance of socialisation was demonstrated so clearly that further studies with unsocialised controls would be deemed unethical. In this review, the aim was to evaluate all literature relevant to canine socialisation. This review used PRISMA-P guidelines to identify 29 studies: 14 were questionnaire-based studies (two of which also had a testing element), 15 included some form of experimental manipulation relating to socialisation, and one was a purely observational study. Based on this literature review, we recommend future research into minimum necessary socialisation levels, as well as breed differences in the timing of effective socialisation. Such studies will help owners and breeders produce well-adjusted adult dogs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2895
Issue number21
Early online date22 Oct 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 22 Oct 2022


  • Review
  • dog
  • puppy
  • Canis familiaris
  • socialisation
  • socialisation period
  • early life


Dive into the research topics of 'Canine socialisation: a narrative systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this