Let’s start with what it means. Socialization is exposure to different people, dogs and environments. It starts at the breeder right when the pups are born. Firstly, the pups will be interacting with mom and their litter mates. They will be nuzzling up to mom and competing with their litter mates to get their share of mom’s milk. They will be interacting with the breeder when being weighed and examined each day to insure proper puppy development. In the first few weeks, a good breeder will not only weigh and check the pups, but will interact with each one individually. In the coming weeks, the pups will be exposed to other people, as they will be viewing and interacting with the pups in the selection process.
The process continues when you bring your puppy home. The pup will be exposed to new surroundings and new people. You should have everything organized in your home when the pup arrives. Pup’s place to eat, sleep and “potty” should be predetermined. Once your pup’s immunizations are up to date and the vet clears outside socialization, do more varied socialization activities:
-The vet clinic where pup will be examined and continue important vaccinations.
-Invite kids over to meet your new puppy. Their interest in the pup and giving him/her a small treat will make the puppy eager to see kids. Watch the interactions with children to make sure your puppy doesn’t get overwhelmed or handled roughly.
-Take pup to stores such as Petco and PetSmart, as these outlets welcome dogs and he/she will be exposed to both other dogs and people.
-Take pup with you whenever you can. This will give him/her exposure to other sounds such as cars, other voices and noises. Also, the more frequently pup is with you the better the bond between you.
You cannot have too much socialization. Make each interaction a positive, happy one. Use treats or just your voice to associate positive things with each interaction. If something goes wrong, like your pup being snapped at by an unfriendly dog, ignore it. Don’t fawn over the puppy if they aren’t injured. Just ignore it and walk away (preferably on the puppy’s own. Don’t pick him up and “rescue” him.) Then redirect to a treat or toy and turn the bad experience into a good one. In doing these things, you will develop a dog with a great temperament and disposition.
Next month, we will discuss obedience commands and their importance in developing good field performance.
See you then!
CJ & Shawnee