OK so this is going to be part 1 of 3 on Puppy socialization; why we should do it and more importantly how we do it… So let’s just jump right on in “the deep end” and talk about the difference between Personality and Behavior because for my money this is the most crucial point in this discussion…. All animals (puppies included) have a critical social development period, where if  introduced and socialized correctly we can mold said puppy into just about anything we want … However,  if we do it wrong we can end up with an adult dog with severe behavioral issues.

Those windows that we are speaking about are roughly (Give or take a week or so)
1.    People by the age of 12weeks
2.   Soft mouth/Other places or things by the age of  18 weeks
3.    Rules and Routines (Avoiding Problem Behaviors) by the age of 5-6 months
Let’s face it we all want a dog that likes people and that is what we are going to talk about in this article but we also need to keep our little friend safe from the world as well. So it is imperative that until your pooch has had at least three rounds of boosters/shots, he/she should not be allowed on the ground where other non-vaccinated dogs are or have been (Even sniffing those areas could infect your puppy, that is before vaccinations). This rule however makes it easy for you and your pup to work on people socialization! But to be safer than sorry when outside the home, in your arms will be the best place for puppy…
You have the opportunity to affect change on your puppy’s personality at this age! You can teach your pup that the world is safe, fun and explorable if you pair all associations with people with something awesome!!! (we will get to places and things next time)  Let’s say a small tasty tidbit like cheese or boiled chicken… The issue is that if you wait till 18-20 weeks to do this the window will have closed and their personality will be what it will be… This might sound a tad bit simplistic but it really is just this simple if you do it right you can make all the critical encounters with people positive and have a pup that loves people (because they bring presents) J
Think of it this way, if you are married or have a roommate and let’s say that person is well a slob… You have no doubt already realized that changing their personality is well not going to happen! You might be able to change specific behaviors, like do the dishes or pick up your socks but this only deals with specific problem behaviors not the personality….So it is not to say if your dog has already past these benchmarks there is no hope but you will be stuck working to change behaviors rather than mold your pups personality right out of the box….
So the focus from here on out and the checklist forthcoming is specific to people and must be completed by at least the age of 13 weeks.  So, if you get your pooch at 10-12 weeks you had better hope that the breeder or shelter you got them from has been helping or you have some serious work to do… That being said working fast can sometimes be as bad as not working at all. Remember that all associations must be positive to show the pup that the world is not scary or mean. So while there is a lot to accomplish in the first puppy socialization list don’t do anything make any negative associations… Like allowing someone to scare the pup or move to fast or for goodness sake be mean because that is not the association we are looking for and could carry right on into adulthood… Hey I never said it would be easy just that if you did it right your chances to have the perfect pup increase exponentially! So with all that being said and judging from the critical nature of this socialization business… Finding a professional trainer to help is a great idea!!! Well folks here is your list….
 Get out there, have fun and make every memory a positive one for your pooch yes it is really that important!
  • Men and Women (It is these folks giving out the treats)
      • Beards
      • Hats
      • Sunglasses
      • Jewelry
      • Helmets
      • Cigarettes
      • Different ethnic groups and races
      • Elderly
      • All sizes (short, tall, large, small)
      • Loud
      • Hoodies
      • Backpacks
      • Runners
      • Bicyclist
      • Costumes
      • Uniforms
        • Police
        • Fire
        • EMT
        • Mail Person
        • UPS
        • Military
  • Kids
      • All age ranges (from infants to teenagers)
      • Groups and individuals
      • Standing, sitting and playing
      • Loud and Quiet
  • All interactions must be positive and associated with supper yummy treats. If we allow our dogs to have a scary or bad experience during this age range you risk having a dog that will not accept this group of people as an adult
  • At this age dogs should be carried or in wagon, shopping cart, but not loose on the floor of strange non clean environments… Always include your vet in this socialization process and accept  and listen to their input as well J
Interactions with Folks
People Part 2
After we have successfully met all those types of folks, we need to work on interacting with these folks as well. Not only do they give me gifts (treats) they also can gently, kindly and with all sorts of fun also do the following with me… (Still including treats at each activity)
  • Holding puppy
  • Paws (touch)
  • Face (touch)
  • Ears (look at, touch and clean)
  • Teeth  (look at and touch)
  • Tail (touch ,tug, and under yes gentle)
  • Hugging puppy
  • Touching collar
  • Torching and clipping nails
  • Checking and touching between the pads (feet)
  • Touching the rear legs
  • Brushing and Grooming
  • Passing the puppy to others for other human touch
Our next socialization adventure will include training to a soft mouth and introducing to a variety of places and things now that we have a great start with people!

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