Hello again 🙂 How many of you have got a new puppy and maybe have questions on dog socialization training?
We took home a new puppy, a small sweet Lab. We have to do certain things in order to raise a happy dog and of course, this will help us to enjoy later our walks, and generally make things easier for us too 🙂
We all want a happy and confident dog. The world is a huge and dangerous place for a small puppy and he is totally dependent on you to protect him. Your Labrador puppy is away from his mummy and of course, he is afraid of everything.
When should we start the process of socialization?
Maybe you think it is too early but the socialization of your puppy should start from the age of 3 weeks and we have a short period of time because between 12 and 14 weeks the window of socialization closes.
I don’t say that after 14 weeks we can’t socialize a Labrador but it is more difficult and the process is slower if he already has fears.
The socialization period can be divided in two: pre vaccination period and after vaccination period.
Until 14 weeks it is a period when they are fearless and accepting easy new things. So we don’t have to keep our furry baby far from people, cars, bikes, other dogs. Yes, first you have to know what it means to socialize your dog.
What is puppy socialization?
Socialization is to expose your puppy to new experiences, to teach him to not be afraid. It is a process when you actually introduce him to the big wild world around him. In the first week, he is not afraid of anything so this is when you have to act if you want a confident, self-assured dog.
What exactly you have to do?
You have a new baby lab, you just want to protect him :). Ok, to make it simple, I will show you a schedule of the socialization process.
It will be a very busy period, you have to take your puppy on many walks, in many different places but believe me it is worth it. Later you will grateful that you did it.
You all know (and if you don’t the vet will also tell you) that before your lab puppy has his vaccination it is not good to bring him in contact with other dogs. If the dogs are not vaccinated, our puppy’s health can be in danger so…the best way is to carry our furry ball in our arms when in public places. Do this until almost the 12th week.
What do you have to do in this period? You have to take your puppy on small drives with your car, to let him get used to it. Maybe the first time he will be sick but….no problem. It is just the first time :). Later he will love it. Try to not take him for a ride after a meal, though.
You can start to introduce him to different people, always in your arms:)
In this period, when you can put your puppy down in public places, you have to take him on as many walks you can.
What does this process include? You have to socialize your dog with a few things: people, locations, vehicles, and animals.
Your furry baby should meet on different occasions different categories of people:
-children under 5 years old
-children over 5
-people with beards
– wearing hats, hoods, reflective gear, motorcycle helmets, uniforms
-people of both sexes
-people of different colors
This is very important because you don’t want your dog, later, to be scared of the behavior of a baby and to try to bite him. Babies act different from the older children and it is good your puppy to be used with them because they can be very annoying with the animals sometime and we want a gentle and patient dog.
If our Lab is familiar with all these categories of people, you will not have any problems later. If he is frightened, he can attack a man wearing a helmet, because it is strange for him, or a person of a different color that he is used with. And we don’t want this.
So…introduce your furry baby with all these things every time when you take him out. My advice is to introduce him for example with children of different ages on different occasions, not many children on one occasion. So…step by step.
Take your puppy in different places. You can start from the pet shop and a good idea is to have a walk near school gates.
Another good experience is near the supermarket where a lot of people will stop to cuddle him, to talk to him.
Everywhere that is allowed is good to take your puppy with you, to meet different people and different places.
Also in the countryside, he can walk in woods, fields, rivers, through mud and leaves :)he will love it.
Here I will tell you one of my experiences with my Labrador 🙂
He was 3 years old when I took him for the first time in Romania (my birthplace) on holiday. I live in Greece and he never saw snow before.
It was a December morning when my boy woke up, and we went for our morning walk. In my parents garden when I opened the door everything was white, a wonderful view :), snow everywhere.
When he saw it, he started to bark, he was scared and he didn’t want to go out. He was afraid to step outside.
What did I do?
I went out first taking him with the lead, and he was walking exactly on my footsteps 🙂 Of course in few minutes he was rolling in the snow 🙂 when he got used to it.
So… every new experience is good, to pass his fears.
You have to try to introduce him to different kind of terrain, stones, sand, and mud. You can take him on the beach.
To introduce your puppy to the water, you start with small puddles and from that to swimming in the sea, ocean or river. Labradors love water and it will not be difficult at all 🙂
Socialization with another animal
The most important thing is for your dog to grow up friendly with other dogs, playful and well mannered. This will make you able to take him in public places like dog parks, on the beach with other dogs…and have a nice time. If he is aggressive none of you will enjoy the walk and we don’t want this.
You have to introduce your puppy to strange dogs slowly because a bad experience will leave forever scars unfortunately. First try to introduce your Labrador to a friend’s dog, as long as this adult dog is friendly, vaccinated, and not very bouncy 🙂
Your puppy will see that it is nice to meet new friends but this has to be done always with our supervision. Of course, to meet puppies is a good idea especially if you join a class for puppy socialization.
Except of t socialization with other dogs, it can be nice if you have the occasion, of course always having your puppy in your arms, to show him a cow, a horse, or another animal. Labradors find sometimes friends where you don’t expect
In my next articles I will give you more details but for the beginning, you should make a list… and introduce your puppy to the world .
Have a nice time with your little friend and tell me if it worked. Stay close because my next post I will give you more information on what we should avoid and other things when it comes to socialization.
See you soon 🙂
For further reading about your furry babies choose below