SOCIALIZATION

There is a critical period in a pups life, between 3 and 16 weeks of age, when it is easiest to introduce him to new experiences.  It is important that during this time period that his experiences are positive.  We do our part here by handling the puppies daily, exposing them to common household activities and sounds and introducing them to the great outdoors but it's important that the process be continued once they go home. 
Socialization and puppy training are of utmost importance as puppyhood is the most important and critical time in your dog's development. What you do and do not do right now will affect your dog's behavior forever. 

A properly socialized puppy is well adjusted and makes a good companion. It is neither frightened by nor aggressive towards anyone or anything it would normally meet in day to day living. An un-socialized dog is untrustworthy and an unwanted liability. They often become fear-biters. Often they like to fight with other dogs. They are difficult to train and are generally unpleasant to be around. Unsocialized dogs cannot adapt to new situations and a simple routine visit to the vet is a nightmare not only for the dog itself, but for everyone involved. Don't let this happen to you and your dog. Start socializing your new puppy NOW! 


There is some risk of a puppy who has not been fully vaccinated being exposed to disease in this period but I personally think the benefits of socialization  outweigh  these risks
.* Carry your pup to shopping centers, parks, school playgrounds, etc; places where there are crowds of people and plenty of activity. 

* Take your puppy for short, frequent rides in the car. Stop the car and let your puppy watch the world go by through the window. 

* Introduce your puppy to umbrellas, bags, boxes, the vacuum cleaner, etc. Encourage your puppy to explore and investigate his environment. 

* Get your puppy accustomed to seeing different and unfamiliar objects by creating your own. Set a chair upside down. Lay the trash can (empty) on its side, set up the ironing board right-side up one day and upside down the next day. 

* Introduce your puppy to new and various sounds. Loud, obnoxious sounds should be introduced from a distance and gradually brought closer. 

* Accustom your puppy to being brushed, bathed, inspected, having its nails clipped, teeth and ears cleaned and all the routines of grooming and physical examination. 

* Introduce your puppy to stairs, his own collar and leash. Introduce anything and everything you want your puppy to be comfortable with and around. 

The don'ts in this process are

* Avoid dog parks, waysides, places where the health of other animals is unknown until your pup is fully vaccinated.

* Do not put your puppy on the ground where unknown animals have access. This is where your puppy can pick up diseases. Wait until your puppy's shots are completed. Do not let your pup socialize with dogs that appear sick or dogs that you don't know, that may not be vaccinated. This includes your vet clinic, hold the puppy while you are there.

* Do not reward fearful behavior. In a well meaning attempt to sooth, encourage or calm the puppy when it appears frightened, we often unintentionally reward the behavior. It's normal for the puppy to show some signs of apprehension when confronting anything new and different. 

* Do not allow the experience to be harmful, painful or excessively frightening. This can cause lifetime phobias in your dog. 

* Do not force or rush your puppy. Let your puppy take things at his own pace. Your job is to provide the opportunity. 

* Do not do too much at one time. Young puppies need a lot of sleep and tire quickly. It is much more productive to have frequent and very brief exposures than occasional prolonged exposures. 

* DO NOT WAIT!! Every day that goes by is an opportunity of a lifetime that is lost forever. You can never get these days back. If socialization does not happen now, it never will. 

.As pack animals and social beings, dogs need interaction with their owners, other people and other animals. The more you isolate the dog, and the less you interact with the dog, the more likely she will develop negative behaviors. 

Companionship is vital to a dog's emotional well-being. Integrate the pup into your family from the start. Place your pup's crate or play pen in a room in which your family spends considerable time each day. 

Raise a dog in an environment that doesn't allow him to be teased, tormented or attacked.  

Part of interacting with a dog of any age involves consistently rewarding all desirable behaviors - thus increasing the likelihood the dog will repeat those behaviors - and to take steps to prevent the development of undesirable behavior. 

The latter is usually accomplished by redirecting the dog's energy into a positive behavior for which you can reward her, and when she does something "bad", to ignore the undesired behavior. This is based on the principle that dogs typically engage in behaviors to get attention and/or obtain something they desire such as a treat, toy, special privilege or higher status. 

And this is why pushing off a jumping dog usually will not stop the jumping behavior; even though pushing the dog away seems like a negative reaction, to the dog seeking attention, any interaction she achieves seems better than none. Therefore, it is far better to get your dog to "sit" before she tries to jump. That way, you can reward her with the attention she wants, while reinforcing only good behavior. It is important to think about why your dog is engaging in a particular behavior.

If you've taken the time to read all of the above by now you may be wondering if you really want a dog.  It's not as complicated as it may seem when you do  all of the reading but there is definitely work in the making of a good canine companion.  Classes are very helpful.  You'll have experts to give you advice and the socializtion is priceless.
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