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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So Raiden had his second jab last week and is now almost old enough to meet other dogs. Our vet does a puppy party meet-up, so today we rang them to ask what it's like and when we can come...the vet that told us about this neglected to tell us Raiden could have gone as soon as he'd had his first injection, so he could have been going for weeks aaagh :mad: Anyway, the puppy party is tomorrow, and here is how much info we've got from them:

- So far there are six other puppies going - is this too much? They have said they don't have an official limit, but don't usually have more than 6 / 7
- The party lasts for an hour!! We asked if we could leave early / half way through and were told that we *could*, but nobody does, with the insinuation that we shouldn't...but an hour is waaay too long for a puppy to be go-go-going, especially when it's a 15 min walk there and a 15 walk back, and Raiden needs to go to the toilet every 15 minutes when he's super active! I mean they accept puppies around 9 / 10 weeks old, how can they go for an hour without getting wound up and having accidents? Thoughts?

- The puppies are off lead in the large waiting room. We asked if, when Raiden becomes overly excited, we could bring him to us and calm him down, through carrying him or doing some training. The person on the phone said they prefer owners to sit and keep the puppies on the floor so 'they are still getting to socialise'...I don't think this is a great idea.

- The oldest puppies they currently have are 12 weeks old
- They have said the puppies are different sizes, and they aren't split into size groups or how tenacious / confident they are...one is a DDB, but they have said he's very calm :ponder:
- They have said they don't allow owners to shout at the puppies, and have mentioned treats

- Whilst the puppies are playing the staff talk to them about vet appointments and training (oh god...). Does this mean the owners won't be focused on their puppy?! Like, I feel I'm gonna be so focused on Raiden and making sure things are going well (not OTT but to make sure he's not scared / scaring other puppies) that the other owners and staff are gonna be laughing or telling me to back off!

So, would you go? Would you recommend we go?

If we do go what should we be doing...in terms of interrupting if Raiden is too excited, or if he is scared. If he is scared (which I don't think / hope he isn't) can I hold him in my arms and praise him, whilst feeding him treats? If the surgery staff gets arsey what can I tell them? What are some things I should watch out for, that one puppy is being too rough or that Raiden is scared?

Our other option is a puppy training / socialisation class a 15 min drive or hour's walk away. Whilst the class was good (trainer was PR and gave decent advice when we watched), there was just one puppy in the class so I don't know how busy they are...and we really only need the socialisation. We're probably gonna do the training classes as well, but the puppy party has more opportunity for socialisation.

I appreciate any ideas, advice or tips!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Okay, phoned back to ask a few more questions and spoke to a different person who had no problem with us leaving early.

One more question! They have said lots of people come along, which is fine, but I'm worried about Raiden being a bit overwhelmed?

He has only met people being carried so far, due to vaccinations. He has met a friend and my parents in our house, but that was after he met them outside in my arms. This means we haven't begun to teach him that he's supposed to sit to be greeted by people - should I be worried about him being rewarded for jumping up screwing up future training?

Sorry, I know this is long, but I really would appreciate people's thoughts :)
 

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I would go, and just be prepared to give my puppy a time out, break, or leave it I felt it was the right thing. I don't think there's any reason you have to do what they tell you if you don't feel that it's the right thing for your puppy. I mostly let puppies go and figure things out themselves unless someone is being a bully and needs to be removed for a quick time out. Separating into two groups based on size/age might be a good idea if there are some very tiny or young puppies and some older more rambunctious puppies.
 

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I'd go and if you see your puppy is overwhelmed, leave. Yes, to taking him out for breaks and yes, to keeping your focus on your pup rather than anyone else, including staff.

Your instincts sound good so follow those and you'll be ok.

This came across my FB feed this morning. Somewhat relevant so thought I'd share with you. You might even print it out and take it to puppy class. :) It's long but well worth the read. Too many people misunderstand socialization and end up flooding their pups with fearful situations. Sink or Swim: 8 Ways You Might Be Flooding Your Dogeileenanddogs
 

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I think most puppy socialization classes are 1 hour. At least the ones I took Tucker to were. I'd be a bit worried about just having the dogs loose for an hour though. I would try it out for a day and see what it's like. If you find yourself uncomfortable or feel like the aren't helping Raiden then I would just leave and look for a class somewhere else.

I've copy and pasted the description of the class that I went to below. It was 4 - hour long classes taken once a week. You learned a bit of basics, had access to a trainer for any questions and the pups got to play and get exposed to a variety of stuff. Also there was a potty break before each play session, which were 2 - 15min sessions so the pups didn't get too riled up.


Puppy

Socialization

Classes

The following information is for classes held out of our main location at

Number of Classes to Attend: Up to 4
Timeframe for Completion: Commence and conclude your program such that your medium/large breed dog graduates no later than around 16-17 weeks of age, or toy/small breed dog graduates by 20 weeks of age. Starting and ending earlier is always better!
Start Date: This program is non-linear, meaning students can join at any time.
Number of Classes: 4 class credits to reserve your puppy’s spot on our Puppy Socialization schedule. You can take the modules in any order or sequence you wish.
Who is this for: Puppies commencing this program should be between 8 to 12 weeks old if they are a medium or large breed puppy; smaller breed puppies should also be between 8 to 12 weeks old, but could be as old as 16 weeks old upon starting.
Your puppy does NOT require all their vaccinations to attend this program. A minimum of one puppy booster, deworming or negative fecal test is required, and they should be kept current on their schedule during the duration of their attendance.
Larger breed puppies closer to 16 weeks of age should start in Foundation Skills class.
Program

Description:

This class is for prepared puppy owners that planned ahead and understand that the critical socialization period of a puppy is between 8 to 12 weeks. They know that during this developmental period, carefully implemented socialization experiences towards people, other dogs, and the sights and sounds of urban living will significantly reduce the likelihood of fear, anxiety, and aggression issues arising later in life. These owners understand that prior to complete vaccination, their puppy needs to have a rich socialization history and that a well-run puppy socialization class is a key component of that. This class is designed for these owners and their puppies.
Each class will consist of three components – 1) Structured, supervised, and healthy socialization opportunities, both on and off-leash for the puppies in the classroom 2) Weekly socialization topics and best-practice advice and practical exercises 3) Very basic clicker training exercises.
Regarding vaccinations: The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour recommends that puppies attend well-run puppy socialization classes prior to receiving all vaccinations. Inadequate or improper socialization is a greater risk to a dog’s long term well-being. Per their recommendations, puppies with only their first set of vaccinations, and one deworming or negative fecal test are welcome to join classes, and should continue their vaccinations over the duration of the program. In a very recent 2013 study, the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association found that puppies that attended a well-run puppy socialization class prior to the age of 16 weeks were at no additional risk at contracting parvo, over puppies that did not attend puppy socialization classes. A puppy socialization class held indoors in a sanitized environment is not the same as taking an 8 week old puppy to a disease-filled dog park. If your breeder, veterinarian, or other people advise keeping your puppy indoors until after they have completed all their vaccinations, they are simply not up-to-date with current information.
Module

Descriptions

Module

1:


  • Puppy Topic: Nipping and Mouthing / Appropriate Play With Your Puppy
  • Socialization Exercise: Resource Guarding / Food Bowl Safety
  • Training: Attention and Walk With Me
Module

2:


  • Puppy Topic: Visiting the Vet and Groomers
  • Socialization Exercise: Accepting Handling, Restraint, Grooming
  • Training: Attention and Down
Module

3:


  • Puppy Topic: Canine Body Language, Preventing Fear, Anxiety, and Aggression
  • Socialization Exercise: Exploring Strange Objects and Sounds
  • Training: Attention and Polite Greetings
Module

4:


  • Puppy Topic: Crate Training / Alone Time Training / Housetraining
  • Socialization Exercise: Socialization to Being Left Alone
  • Training: Attention and Hand Targeting (Touch)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you so much everybody :)

Grabby, thanks! I will read that article - okay I've just skimmed it. I find the whole flooding thing interesting as I recently read an article (can't remember who it was by but they were talking about Ian Dunbar...really struggling to find it now) where it was saying you can't flood a puppy, and essentially it's okay to take them somewhere that really scares them. Because they're puppies it somehow doesn't count as a traumatic experience and is still socialisation...pretty stupid. Another article said that 'challenges' were okay, where the puppy could be concerned for a minute but quickly recovers and becomes confident & happy. What're your thoughts on the latter?

Thisisme19 see your class is set out well...I'd be happy with 2 - 15 minute play sessions...but expecting 7 puppies under the age of 12 weeks old to play well and be able to learn and read each other's signals, without getting too riled up, for an hour just seems a bit daft...and my other worry is that there are no trainers present either. It's just run by vet nurses, and who knows what their experience or beliefs are about dogs and training methods?

Say I picked Raiden up to cool off or whatever, and one of the staff got uppity and told me to put him back down, what can I say? I don't even know if this would happen, but I don't want to go on an all-out attack as we have a really good vet at this surgery!

Instead of going tomorrow, do you think we should just go watch without Raiden, and if it looks okay take him next week? Or is it more important to risk it and get some socialisation in?
 

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If you think he needs a time out and they say something about it, I would just say "I think my puppy need a break right now" and then not have any more conversation about it. Hopefully since it's your dog they will let it go and let you do what you think is best.

As for time, I've only done puppy socialization combined with puppy obedience classes. So the whole class was an hour but play time was only 10min or so. An hour of just play time seems like a lot!
 

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Most young animals have a built in response to new things and that is to investigate, with care. I don't find anything wrong with challenging a puppy, though that word and interpretation can be misconstrued. Puppies are pretty resilient for the most part if they have good genetic temperament and aren't pushed into situations that overwhelm them.

If you picked up Raiden during the puppy class because you felt it was appropriate and were told by staff to put him back down, I'd smile and let him calm down and ignore their request. I wouldn't say anything. If they pushed the issue, I'd resort to a mildly spoken, my pup needs a little break, thanks very much and do what you feel is best for Raiden. This is your puppy. You will never have these early opportunities back again. Don't be bullied into doing anything you aren't comfortable with. Surely the staff don't have the power to prevent you from seeing the vet of your choice at this clinic. You have no obligation to explain why you want your pup to experience the class a certain way. No need to go into full on attack mode. That will make you look and feel defensive. Just do your thing. If you become too uncomfortable, pretend to remember an appointment and leave.

I'd go tomorrow. When I used to hold puppy play classes, they were not structured around any sort of training. They were held outdoors so potty accidents weren't a problem. When I had to move them indoors, the owners were asked to take their puppies out often for potty breaks. I gave the owners high value treats so they could reinforce their puppies for coming and checking in with the owners. Mostly the class was for the puppies to play with each other and to meet new people. The owners watched and we talked about the different play styles we were seeing. We talked about training, etc. but always with a close eye on the puppies. I had various types of toys available. In warm weather I had a plastic baby pool set up. The point was to let them be puppies and learn to play with puppies other than their litter mates in a controlled environment. Except for one class that unbelievably consisted of an entire litter of siblings. Luckily there were a few other puppies there. :)
 

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I, too, am nervous about something similar. Our first puppy training class is tomorrow and the trainer lets them all go into a pen for the first bit and play. She does separate them based on confidence. But she has been very very clear that owners are to BACK OFF. She is very strict on owners standing on the edge. She likened it to dropping your first child off at kindergarden- if you hover over the child and follow them around, they will be nervous and get cues from you that you aren't confident in their skills. You need to back off and let them deal.

Puppies will nip. Puppies will bark. Puppies will cauterwhel (spelling?) and cry. But this is how they learn. One pup bites too hard, then nobody plays with him and he learn. In fact, having you try to step in in the middle of puppy wrestling increases YOUR risk of getting bit.

I would advise against picking up the pup to calm him down. Lead him outside to let him chill, but picking him up still makes him a target and doesn't allow him to learn to calm himself. But, take your pup for breaks if he needs it.

Also, manage your anxiety before going. Pup will pick up on the fact that you are nervous and will then act nervous. Be calm. Be confident. There are vets and people very familiar with puppy behaviour at the play session. These people know what they are doing. You know your pup. It will all be ok!
 

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But sometimes puppies don't get the point that they are bullying someone else. Sometimes the puppy being bullied doesn't stand up for him/herself, and just ends up traumatized because the other puppy is being overbearing and won't stop. If they are separated into appropriate groups then that's probably fine, but I don't agree that you should always let them work it out. Mostly, yes. Always, no.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone, you've been really helpful :) I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow!

Your trainer would hate me Maiabean. I'll be on the floor with Raiden keeping a very close eye on him, and if he's bullying another puppy to the point where s/he is scared, or he's having a hard time backed into a corner looking very worried, I will definitely be intervening :) If he's happy or coping okay I'll leave him be, and only interfere when he comes to me to feed him treats!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So...it was horrible and I feel like I let Raiden down a lot :(

We got there on the hour and all but one of the puppies were playing already. All the puppies were huge apart from a JRT cross that was smaller than Rey. There was a Shih Tzu puppy that was sat under its' owners chair cowering. From the start the vets had laid treat toys out (the one where you lift blocks and there's treats under it, Kong wobblers and stuffed Kongs) and a Springer pup went right into lifting the blocks and wolfing the treats, and was very unhappy when other pups went nearby - lunging, stiffening etc.

We sat with Raiden on our laps, on chairs, and fed him ham, happy talking, and kinda playing LAT. One of the vet nurses immediately said "Are you going to put him on the ground now?." I said "Oh we're just gonna leave it a little while and feed him treats", to which she then said "He'll build his confidence faster if you put him on the ground." My partner replied "We know what we're doing, thank you." Once Raiden was acting more confident I sat on the floor with him on my lap. I got lots of odd looks as everyone else was sat on chairs and totally ignoring the puppies. At first Raiden was nervous, but after a while he walked off on his own under the chairs, watching all the other puppies. Unfortunately, because he was a few chairs away and people were sat on them, I couldn't get to him when another puppy was scaring him. He was against a wall, paw raised and tail tucked...epic fail number one :(

After a wobbly start he made friends with the small JRT cross and they played. Raiden's a yappy pup so he was yapping as they ran and played which was embarrassing for me as none of the other dogs did and people commented on it, but I just said "yes, he's a noisy little guy and loves vocal play!" At this point someone knocked on the locked waiting room door, and the vet called "everyone grab the nearest puppy!" and literally any owner (including a little girl) grabbed any puppy nearest them :eek: I made sure I got Rey but omg the little girl (accidentally) picked up the puppy she got - that wasn't her own - horribly!

Pups then went back to playing, and Raiden was doing good. He loved the JRT cross. Then their play got a little over-excited and I couldn't get to them for the people's legs, and the puppies had a major snarl off that lasted a few seconds - epic fail number 2 :( I picked Raiden up and we sat with him to cool off for a while. After a few mins down he went to play, and him and the JRT played well, so no hard feelings. Raiden even played with some of the larger pups. He was still the noisiest, but he was happy and doing good. We then broke up to take him to the toilet (cue annoyed looks from vet nurse). Outside he did a wee and a number two, and we walked about and did a little training to calm him down. We said we'd go back inside and stay for an extra five minutes.

Indoors the play was very rough and go-go-go. There was no break or calm down period the entire time we were there. Raiden was getting very wound up; he tried suckling from a Lab puppy (aaagh!) and humped her too (aaaagh!). I interrupted both behaviours and reset him so he could play with someone else. When he was too focused we picked him up and said he was a little too excited so we were leaving...cue even more annoyed looks and 'grab a puppy everyone'.

Of course as soon as Raiden humped the puppy the vet nurse talked about dominance, and one of the other puppy owners was asking about it - HE'S ELEVEN WEEKS OLD!!!! - and I couldn't hold back so politely said, "Humping often happens when a dog is over excited from play and simply doesn't know what else to do." Aaaagh why was my puppy the noisy humper!! (*weak laugh*) >__<

The entire time we were there (35 mins) the Shih Tzu puppy hid under the chair trembling. There was NO talk of giving him treats or reassuring him, the owners didn't interact with him once. Sometimes the other puppies would go say hi, or accidentally run into him whilst playing, and the Shih Tzu would either cower or snap at them. At one point I said a gentle hello to him and gave him some encouragement and he actually came out and sniffed my hand, then retreated again :( Oh god...so I guess tomorrow bf phones up the training / socialisation class, and asks how many puppies there would be in the next few weeks and we try that. I'll have a look to see what else I can find around here that we could get a taxi to, but I'm really struggling to find anything *sigh*

So from what I've said, how badly did I do? Was it all normal? Raiden was playing well by the end, but I let him get over-stimulated and that's when he tried to suckle and hump. I did try and end that quickly though, then pick up to calm down and leave :/
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you Grabby. I feel like I am constantly failing my dogs at the moment... :eyeroll:
 

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Honestly, I didn't read one instance in the above description that led me to believe you let Raiden down. You managed everything very well. He played with another similar size puppy. They had a few second of snarls. No big deal. He was loud when he played. That's ok!? He suckled and humped. So what? He was excited and over stimulated. You handled it just right, with him and with the tech who was clueless.

The poor little Shih Tzu should have been taken home. The way they handled the knock on the door was clueless too. Luckily no harm done but still not a good choice. How long would it take for each owner to get their own puppy?

Overall I think you and Raiden did pretty darn good. Hat tip to you for being such a good puppy owner.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you. It is very much appreciated. *breathes sigh of relief*

If Raiden's playing with another puppy (say at the training class) and a snarl fest happens again, am I right to interrupt and let him calm down? How is it best to interrupt; step between, pick him up, hold his harness?

I felt horrible for the Shih Tzu. I wanted to say something so badly, even if it was just 'Oh you can have some of our treats to feed him if you want', but I didn't dare. I'd already heard both the vet techs and other owners saying 'this is completely normal, he'll get over it, next week will be better' etc. And I couldn't believe the 'grab a nearest puppy' thing...it's not like the puppies were spread all over the (fairly large) waiting room, there was a main area they were playing in with everyone sat around on chairs. It would have been fairly easy for the owners to each get their own puppy...I'd have really freaked out if the little girl had tried to get Raiden >__<

Thank you again.
 

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That's really weird- how they ran that class. Having people grab random puppies. Huh. And leaving treat toys out, I feel like that would just encourage/teach resource guarding.

We do a puppy playgroup where I work that lasts for an hour and a half each week. The key to it being successful is 1) the owners aren't involved. That way the puppies can learn to be independent, don't pick up stress from their owners, and don't have to worry about a ton of strange people (and definitely not being grabbed!). 2) Play is very restricted and kept at a low level. We redirect and calm down puppies for being too loud, playing too rough, humping, sprinting, bullying, third wheeling other puppies' games (only pairs are allowed to play together). Redirection is done with tennis balls, calling the puppies away, or physically picking them up and bringing them somewhere else to calm down. We have to step in often because many puppies don't know how to play properly at first, they need to learn to be polite.

So yes, intervene when they're snarling and calm them down. After they've taken a break (even if it's only for a few seconds) you can let them try again and go back to playing. Ideally you want to intervene when they're starting to get too rough and before they start snarling but either way, just step between them. If one's on top of the other and you physically can't step in between, then it's okay to pick one up or pull one off the other. Try to do it calmly and neutrally- don't yell or clap unless it's necessary to break them up right away (ie an actual fight).

I think you did fine and honestly, it just sounds like it was very poorly run. Vets don't always have a very good understanding of behavior/training/socialization and they should just stick to medical stuff rather than making up behavioral advice to give to people.

I'd try out the other socialization class though, maybe that one will be better.
 

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You said the oldest puppy was 12 weeks if that's the case they're all on full on puppy mode.

The play you described sounds like what I've seen in lots of litters. Even the grabbing by random people. Just think that lots of pups stay with their mothers till 12 weeks and they tolerate being picked up, inspected by people and generally rammed into and bowled over by their litter mates.

It sounds like the idea of this class was to recreate that same experience a bit on a bigger scale. From what you wrote there were no big "fails" on the part of Raiden if anything the biggest problems were probably your nervousness and the forced "separations" and "resets". A bit of snarling and humping is not a fail for Raiden it's normal puppy behavior and is not something to get too worked up about.

The Shih Tzu seems like it probably shouldn't have been there OR should have had more active parents but it sounds like Raiden had a blast.

You say he was getting too wound up but that's not a problem by itself, if anything he'll tire himself out. The problem would be if he got so wound up he was bothering another pup and ignoring all the warning signals to back off but it sounds like that wasn't the case.

If Raiden's playing with another puppy (say at the training class) and a snarl fest happens again, am I right to interrupt and let him calm down? How is it best to interrupt; step between, pick him up, hold his harness?
Absolutely not. That seems like an excellent way to create a reactive dog.

Monitor the warning signals that dogs are giving off, be conscious of their emotions and separate if it croses the line but snarling and dominance play is completely normal and it is actually very healthy for Raiden to learn to recognize that as play rather than aggression.
 
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