Puppy socialization question

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Puppy socialization question

This is a discussion on Puppy socialization question within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Hello all, So Lila has been home for a couple days and she's all settled in (except for re-potty-training her since the breeder had her ...

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Old 06-27-2014, 09:55 AM
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Puppy socialization question

Hello all,
So Lila has been home for a couple days and she's all settled in (except for re-potty-training her since the breeder had her on potty pads and there has been a thunderstorm warning in the area since we've been home but that's it's own thread ). I was just wondering if anyone had any ideas for safe socialization activities for an 8 week old puppy since her puppy classes don't start until the 8th. To make things a little harder, Lila is not a fan of being picked up and carried (too much dignity). She's bouncing off the walls a little bit sitting at home! Any ideas or things that have worked for your pups?
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:17 PM
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I have similar questions, but my pup is a little older. He needs get out into the world very soon! I thought he'd be fine after his second set of shots, but vet said not to take him out until several weeks after his final shots at around 18 weeks . My pup was exposed to many people and things at his breeders, but not many other dogs.

Do you know anyone with friendly, vaccinated dogs? If so, invite them to your house (not all at once). Invite different people, e.g., men, women, children of various ages, people of different nationalities and races, people in hats, with capes, with crutches, wearing superman costumes, etc. Set up different surfaces for her to walk on, make a variety of noises, get her wet.

Other things you can do is to take your pup to shopping centers, parks, schools, and other gathering places and watch activities from a safe distance (e.g., in your car, sitting on a bench with a blanket down for puppy).

I believe both Sophia Yin and Ian Dubar have socialization "schedules" on their sites. You may need to register, but they're free.
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Last edited by cookieface; 06-27-2014 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 06-27-2014, 01:38 PM
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Here's some good info that might give you both some ideas for safe, effective socialization. Remember, the risk of a puppy contracting a disease is far less than the risk of that puppy developing behavioral problems due to under socialization.

https://www.4pawsu.com/vaccinations.htm
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Old 06-27-2014, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Grabby View Post
Remember, the risk of a puppy contracting a disease is far less than the risk of that puppy developing behavioral problems due to under socialization.
Agreed! It's just hard not to worry about your puppy getting sick

I was thinking of bringing Lila to a field behind my friend's office where there are never dogs. Theoretically a coyote could have been there, but that would be a freak thing. Would that kind of grassy area be safe (or as safe as anything can be)?

Also, how do you approach people/spend time in populated areas with a puppy without coming off as a weirdo? Will the puppy's cuteness over-ride people's stranger-danger alert?

Is it ok if Lila seems nervous? I certainly don't want to scare her, but she's a little wary of new things. She's neither shy nor outgoing, she's totally in the middle.

Cookieface: So glad I'm not alone!

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Old 06-27-2014, 02:56 PM
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Thanks @Grabby! I vehemently disagree with the vet and told her I plan to take Tyson to puppy kindergarten starting this week. I'm already concerned that he's so far behind on interacting with other dogs. One negative about the breeder is that she's so very concerned about vaccines that puppy-dog socialization suffers.

@cbarkerb724, I don't think you'll seem like a weirdo if you just hang out somewhere with your puppy (although, you might want to stay away from playgrounds and school yards if you're male ). If I weren't so overwhelmingly exhausted today, I would have taken Tyson to a local township park and then a bigger pet store (not allowing him on the ground / floor).

As far as wariness, I'd give it time. Stay close enough that she notices things, but don't force her. Turn everything into a positive experience - treats, happy talk, toys! What I do with Katie (though she's older) when she seems wary of something is allow her to investigate on her terms. If she walks away, I let her; if she gets closer, I let her. I talk to her in an upbeat voice and offer a regular stream of treats.

This is from one of the sites Grabby linked:
Quote:
  • Never force or even encourage your dog to approach or do something he is unsure of. Even if it seems silly to you, like a lawn bag, let your puppy determine the when and how of the approach.
  • Ensure that the encounter will be a safe and pleasant. For example, if you are exposing your puppy to children who are in boisterous play, keep him at a safe distance, let him watch and feed him little treats to make a positive association with the experience.
  • If an encounter goes badly, stay calm and neutral. You will need to repeat many positive encounters now to make up for one negative one. You can make the encounter positive through the use of treats, a happy voice or play.
And, from that ASPCA
Quote:
What If My Puppy Seems Frightened During Socialization?
Even though 3 to 12 weeks old is a time when puppies are most comfortable with new experiences, they might sometimes find a new experience frightening. Whenever this happens, it’s important to introduce your puppy to the scary situation much more gradually, and to make a big effort to do something your puppy loves during the situation or right afterwards. For example, if your puppy seems to be frightened while sitting on your lap in a schoolyard full of children, then sit further away from the action and offer your pup a delicious treat each time a scary noise or movement happens. Another solution is to go to a much quieter park where only a few children are playing, use praise and treats to help convince him it’s a great place to be, and then over days or even weeks of your socialization sessions, gradually approach a schoolyard again once he’s started to like the sights and sounds of active children.
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:06 PM
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Tips for socialization:

1) Everything is amazing. If it's not, make it amazing. Absolutely, irrevocably amazing.

2) Go at your puppy's pace. Things are amazing at the pace they show you. There is absolutely no need to push things to go faster. Provide a way out for him to flee too, if he feels he's in a situation where fight/flight are his only options. Make up for bad experiences by creating a TON of good ones.

3) Be creative. By everything, I meant EVERYTHING. Noises, animals, people, objects, textures or ALL sorts. Country, AND city. If she's slightly shy of new things, introduce more new things-but slower, and with better rewards for interacting with said new things on her own.

4) Food and toys are your friends.
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:15 PM
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@cookieface That's great advice! I think I'll see if my family wants to go to a little league game next Sunday with Lila and I. I don't think I should go alone since once I was approached by a janitor as a stiranger danger when I was hanging out in a schoolyard with some kids, when I was working as a TA at the school! My boss had to intervene, the kids thought is was HILARIOUS. I'm great with kids but parents often think I'm going to throw them in a van, haha. I think Lila and I are going to the local high school's outdoor track this evening since dogs aren't allowed there but she's so tiny no one seems to notice
Sorry about your breeder! Mine told me the same thing about the puppy parties my vet hosts, but weirdly she loved the puppy classes we're signed up for...My vet is entirely staffed by saints and they're perfect and I love them. Good luck to you! Let me know if you discover anywhere that was particularly fun and helpful!
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:20 PM
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Puppies are magnets that draw in people. I've hung out in front of stores with pups and if anyone thought I was a weirdo, I didn't care. lol My biggest problem was people thinking I was selling or giving away whatever pup I had. Not likely.

You do bring up an important point when you mention that Lila is slightly wary of new things. Some of that is normal and some may be her temperament which is genetic. People often think all they need to do is take their pup a lot of new places and let them meet a lot of new people. If the pup isn't having a positive experience, the socialization is backfiring. You're smart to recognize that she might not be a super bold pup and needs careful socializing that doesn't overwhelm her.

Work at your own pup's pace. If that means keeping her at a distance from something that she might find scary, do that. If you have to hang back from a crowded area and let her become more confident from a distance, do that. Let her tell you by her body language whether you're pushing her beyond her comfort zone.

If she's slightly nervous, then make sure the people she's meeting understand that they can't crowd her and have to be easy and gentle with her. It's often hard to get this across when people see an adorable puppy but be firm. Kids can be kind of scary too. Explain to kids that she's a young puppy and they have to talk softly and be gentle. It's not easy to speak up sometimes but I've found that it's more important to me to possibly offend someone than to have a dog who is worried because his early experiences were scary instead of pleasant. The people you may offend don't have to live with your dog so keep that in mind. I always had a pocket full of yummy treats to give to anyone who wanted to pet a puppy. Makes an instant good association. The power of classical conditioning is strong so use it to your advantage.

If you have stores that allow dogs, and many do these days, you can put her in a cart. I've taken puppies into home improvement stores, auto parts, plant nurseries, restaurants that allow dogs outside on the patio, fire stations and police stations. Just be cautious not to overwhelm her in noisy environments. All but one of my dogs were very bold, right out of the box, so I had to learn all this the hard way with my shy pup, Gabby.

The field behind your friend's office sounds fine. Now find 50 other new places to take her before she's 16 weeks old and you'll be golden. If you drive, consider taking her on as many car trips as you can to different places. Just drive around with the windows cracked so she can hear and smell. I was a frequent visitor to drive thru fast food places just so I could let my pup have the experience. Sometimes I even bought something. lol

ETA: took me so long to finish this post (work kept interrupting) that kwenami covered a lot of what I was trying to say. Great post @Kwenami and much less wordy than mine.

Last edited by Grabby; 06-27-2014 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:27 PM
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Puppies are magnets that draw in people. I've hung out in front of stores with pups and if anyone thought I was a weirdo, I didn't care. lol My biggest problem was people thinking I was selling or giving away whatever pup I had. Not likely.

You do bring up an important point when you mention that Lila is slightly wary of new things. Some of that is normal and some may be her temperament which is genetic. People often think all they need to do is take their pup a lot of new places and let them meet a lot of new people. If the pup isn't having a positive experience, the socialization is backfiring. You're smart to recognize that she might not be a super bold pup and needs careful socializing that doesn't overwhelm her.

Work at your own pup's pace. If that means keeping her at a distance from something that she might find scary, do that. If you have to hang back from a crowded area and let her become more confident from a distance, do that. Let her tell you by her body language whether you're pushing her beyond her comfort zone.

If she's slightly nervous, then make sure the people she's meeting understand that they can't crowd her and have to be easy and gentle with her. It's often hard to get this across when people see an adorable puppy but be firm. Kids can be kind of scary too. Explain to kids that she's a young puppy and they have to talk softly and be gentle. It's not easy to speak up sometimes but I've found that it's more important to me to possibly offend someone than to have a dog who is worried because his early experiences were scary instead of pleasant. The people you may offend don't have to live with your dog so keep that in mind. I always had a pocket full of yummy treats to give to anyone who wanted to pet a puppy. Makes an instant good association. The power of classical conditioning is strong so use it to your advantage.

If you have stores that allow dogs, and many do these days, you can put her in a cart. I've taken puppies into home improvement stores, auto parts, plant nurseries, restaurants that allow dogs outside on the patio, fire stations and police stations. Just be cautious not to overwhelm her in noisy environments. All but one of my dogs were very bold, right out of the box, so I had to learn all this the hard way with my shy pup, Gabby.

The field behind your friend's office sounds fine. Now find 50 other new places to take her before she's 16 weeks old and you'll be golden. If you drive, consider taking her on as many car trips as you can to different places. Just drive around with the windows cracked so she can hear and smell. I was a frequent visitor to drive thru fast food places just so I could let my pup have the experience. Sometimes I even bought something. lol

ETA: took me so long to finish this post (work kept interrupting) that kwenami covered a lot of what I was trying to say. Great post @Kwenami and much less wordy than mine.
My posts are normally too wordy so I try Great info all around, either way.
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:47 PM
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All this advice is excellent! I love the idea of home improvement stores!
I would not describe Lila as fearful, she's just not quite bold (thigh I think she's moving in that direction), she's on board with anything I like (and squeaky tennis balls) which works in my favor
I'm still trying to convince her that cars are THE BEST. I live in the country so in order to get her to any social place she has to put up with a drive. Unfortunately her trip home was rugged (lots of GI upsets), fortunately it was in a different car.
What about a sculpture park? I doubt there are a lot of dogs there and it's full of huge weird shapes and tunnels! It's also near a DQ since sometimes I need some positive re-enforcement too
There's a great groomer near me, do they usually get the not-totally-immune thing in your experience? I'm probably just going to groom her myself in the long term since springer's don't need much and I like grooming, but I feel like it would be a great experience in terms of strangers touching her feet and ears.
I'm determined to be an A+ socializer since Lila really has the potential to be an amazing dog just based on what she was born with (medium-high energy, personable, smart, patient for a puppy, eager to please) and I want everyone to see her just exactly how I do even when she's 45lbs and shaggy!
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