When and how is the best way to socialize Zora? She is 15 weeks, and she already goes crazy when we go to the vet. Wants to see and human and canine in the place! I want to begin the correct way some suggestions are needed!! Thanks!
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Begin to socialize as soon as all puppy immunization shots are finished. Take your pup everywhere. Encourage people of all shapes and sizes to interact. And don't mollycoddle. If Zora shakes and shivers and hids behind you, get her out in front and encourage her. Do not tell her "It's okay"; you're only reinforcing the scaredy behavior.
Get her used to other dogs and animals, too. Take her to a dog park (leashed, of course). PetCo. Obed trial.
The more varied the exposure you put her through now, the better socialized she'll be later....
The best place to start was 5 weeks ago. There is an important developmental stage that occurs in all dogs between the ages of seven and sixteen weeks of age. This is the time when puppies learn (whether we teach them or not!) which things in life are good and which are not. Now commonly referred to as a critical socialization or developmental stage, this is a rare window of opportunity for us to teach puppies to become confident, psychologically healthy dogs. We do this by exposing them to the myriad of things they will encounter in their lives: people (young, old, different colors, male, female, with mustaches and beards, with eyeglasses, with hats, with mailbags), other animals (cats, dogs, horses), sights and sounds (trash trucks, blimps, fireworks, thunder, lawnmowers, weedwackers), etc.
Any socialization done after that window shuts at 16 weeks will be far less effective than socialization done prior to this. This is one reason why Puppy Socialization classes are so popular...you have a safe environment in which you can socialize your puppies starting at a very early age. You still have a lot of work to do outside of puppy classes, and must work very hard at finding safe dogs and safe locations in which your puppy can learn.
I realize that there is a potential risk for parvo. First, parvo is not necessarily a death sentence in an otherwise healthy puppy. Second, faaaaar more dogs are euthanized from lack of socialization than ever die of parvo. You are much better off being proactive when your puppy is under 4 months of age and risk the parvo, than having to spend the next 12 years with a fear biter.
Having said that, selecting your breeder is essential!!!!!!!!! Ease of socialization is largely genetic and if the sire and especially the dam (who will be raising the litter), are calm and socially savvy, then your puppy is much more likely to be so also. Socialization is always important but the ceiling on how much your puppy will tolerate is genetic. Many labs are kenneled and have few social experiences and grow up to be wonderfully adjusted dogs. On the other hand, many 'one person' breeds such as Mastiffs can be taken out extensively and still become wary of novel people or dogs. Sadly, I am seeing low ceilings on many labs and this is not a good trend!!
I also see lack of impulse control being called lack of socialization quite frequently. Teach your dog early on that you have better games and more terrific rewards than any old dog or visitor to the house and he will display better manners around them. So many dogs lose their head when they see other dogs simply because they have not been taught that it is possible to contain your excitement in a more appropriate manner, and because they have learned that the best way to get an environmental reward is to simply bowl over their owner to get to it
To err is human:To forgive, canine."
My local dog training center has a "Puppy Playtime" hour where you can take you puppy along to play around with other puppies. Sadly we didn't know about this until it was too late with Rocksy, age-wise.
We wish more than anything that we had been aware of it. She is now 7 months old and not the most polite of labs around other dogs. She doesn't get aggressive, but is far too excitable and basically doesn't have good dog manners.
Still, we're booked into a highly-recommended class next week, it has a good reputation for 'readjusting' inadequetely socialized dogs.
Ha! We took CoCo to puppy socialization, to obedience class, to play with her cousins, to the in-laws, in the car on errands.... EVERYWHERE... and she is STILL far too excitable around other dogs, just wants to jump all over them.Originally Posted by Rocksypup
I think its time for obedience class #2 for us... not because she's bad, but because we're bad at keeping it up without the structure.
~Jo & CoCo
Get her out as much as possible. Take her everywhere you go that allows dogs. Go to obedience class, go to the park, parades, everywhere but keep her on a short leash. She should only have enough leash to stay at your side.
Bailey is just like CoCo; we take her everywhere around a large variety of people & dogs, but she still is so excited to see someone/something else new (whether it's new to us or not).Originally Posted by CoCosMom
Good advice above, just as much as possible!!
I would not recommend taking a pup into a dog park leashed. That's only asking for trouble. Dogs are different leashed, and they sense that they are not free to move around. If you want to go to a dog park, fine. But go during off peak times when all the "stay at home alone" dogs aren't there and you can better control the time that your pup is there.
FallRiver has a good understanding of the developmental periods.* The advice he gave is quite consistent with that given by Dr. Patricia McConnell in "The Other End of the Leash"* *She points out that there are 2 risks -- the risk of parvo or equivalent diseases if you take the dog out before all its shots are given* and the other risk of not adequately socializing your puppy during that brief critical period which occurs before the 3rd shot.* She suggests choosing your places carefully to minimize the risk of contagion but starting the socialization after the 2nd of the 3 series of shots.
I think it's VERY important to give your pup socialization experiences.* We sometimes have had a Lab come to our weekly LabFests (1 hour playtime) that has never learned how to play with other dogs. It's so sad -- they often bark at other Labs as if saying, "Play with me, too!" but they really don't know how to initiate, respond, or continue play behavior.
I suggest looking in your neighborhood (either residential or social) for other dog or Lab owners and seeing if you can arrange playdates. Several hours a week doing that should help a lot.* When my Ouff was a pup and we walked the neighberhood, we discovered a GSD that Puff and she liked to run against each other on each side of the backyard fence.* The GSD's owners were happy for me to bring Puff down 3-4X/wk to play with their dog in their fenced backyard.* A woman also in our choir at church had a mixed breed pup about Puff's age and I drove over there to let them play together.
FWIW, I also agree, don't use a leash in a Bark Park.* BUT, for a dog without all its shots, a Bark Park could be too dangerous place to take a pup.*
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
It is also important for puppies to learn other dog's signals. They need to know how to back off when the other dogs requests that of them and know how to tell another dog to back off. If they aren't exposed to other dogs, they never learn that.