Monday, 9 April 2012

Socializing with your Puppy

As we all know puppies need to be socialized. Their prime socialization period is between 8-16 weeks, so take advantage of those two months and socialize like hell! Kobi spent his first social month in the shelter. First week or two he was in Cape Breton before coming down to Halifax, then one of the dogs he was transported with was being monitored for Parvo meaning he was also on Parvo watch for two weeks. So once we brought him home we wanted him to have a week or so for him to settle into a routine. Once we felt he was ready I did my best to socialize him. I took him to a local dog friendly corner store and would just sit outside and let people come say hi to him (turned out he was terrified of most people and looking back now it was signs of his reactivity but at the time I had no clue). I would take him to parks and get him near to kids playing on play grounds so he could hear the sounds of kids running and screaming. Some kids even came to say hi. We took him driving lots of places. We took him to meet both our families and their dogs. I would bring him to work with me when I could for very short periods of time (he usually did a lot of barking now again realizing it was him being reactive). We took him to gatherings with our friends (again a usually reactive event). It wasn't until he was 5 months that we started taking him to the dog park but that was because I didn't know about the morning dog romps at point pleasant prior to then.
At 6 months Kobi came camping with us at Dollar Lake

Knowing what I do now, I would have taken him to Canadian Tire and the other dog friendly businesses that I have since found. I would have taken him to the bank with me. I would have made more of an effort to take him to pet stores just because. I would have spent more time places like downtown or the commons and in particular around areas like the playground and skate park.
Kobi watching kids play on a play ground (Oxford School).

Puppies are people magnets, take advantage of his cuteness and introduce him to as many people as possible while you can. Do, however, listen to your puppy, watch for signs of anxiety and stress and remove them from situations that are causing them stress or anxiety. The last thing you want is for them to associate things and people with these feelings, you want them to associate new experiences and people with positive feelings. I feel like this is something I screwed up on and contributed to Kobis reactivity, largely because I didn't know he was stressed and anxious, I just thought it was a faze from being out of the shelter and that it would pass. Looking back now I would have done things a little differently and made sure Kobi was only having positive experiences.
Kobi visiting with some friends at the lake.

Socializing your pup can be a lot of fun, so if you're going out bring them with you and take advantage of this period while you can!

1 comment:

  1. This is great advice--you're right that most people don't realize the key thing about socializing is not just experience, but positive experience! Sounds like you are doing a great job rehabilitating him though, and as you know there is still great potential for healing reactivity.