There is an important developmental stage that occurs in all dogs which is called the critical socialization period. It's a process in which a puppy develops relationships and communication skills with other people, animals and its environment. Puppies need exposure to all kinds of people, animals, places, sounds, sights, and surfaces during their first weeks and months of life (and continuing throughout their life).
This socialization helps prevent inappropriate responses, such as fear, over-reactivity, shyness, or aggressive behaviors when they become adults. Exposing a puppy to new experiences in a controlled environment will help ensure a calm, confident, psychologically healthy adult dog. The more a puppy is exposed to, the more he learns! Socialization begins with with our development program, but it's a lifelong process that needs to be continued when the puppy goes to its new home.
Our goal is to maximize the potential of each puppy by stimulating it's learning ability, environment, curiosity, and natural instincts. These experiences will provide long-term effects benefiting the puppy's future.
Mount Sterling Doodles maintains a plan that doesn't put the puppy in danger of infectious diseases, but will still afford the opportunity for socialization. We find places where the puppy can meet other people and animals that are low risk environments. We can also organize puppy parties to increase socialization activities.
We assure that each new experience is pleasant and non-threatening for the puppy. We systematically expose the puppy to different types of people, places, things, surfaces, noises, other dogs, other animals and more. We start in quiet places and gradually progress to busier ones. We want to set the puppy up for success, so we introduce each new situation in a manner in which they won't be afraid.
We never force a puppy to go towards new things or people. Instead, we make the association of new things a positive one, by using treats and allowing the puppy to explore and investigate at his own pace. It's better to go slow and give the puppy assurance rather than forcing the puppy to meet new people and interact with new things. We introduce the puppy to everything and anything we think he'll encounter in his future career, but we avoid experiences that can be harmful, painful or excessively scary as it can cause a lifetime of phobias.
Puppies who get the socialization they need turn into happy, secure, confident dogs who will want to interact with all types of people, animals and situations. They are not afraid of most things, and although they may be apprehensive when coming into contact with something new, they recover quickly and do not panic.
Get your puppy out and about into public places so he can learn to accept environment changes. Below is a list of some suggestions of people, animals, touch, noises, things, places and surfaces you could expose your puppy to. This is just a sample list, as there is a myriad of things that your puppy needs to experience. You should take your puppy on outings at least several times a week. Try and go to different places, and do different activities each time so your puppy continues to experience new things. Make sure you expose your puppy to everything you want him to be comfortable around when he's older. For assistance dogs, they need to be exposed to even more!
EXPOSE TO DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE
Firefighters! Young people, old, different races, male, female, men with mustaches and beards, women with hats, people wearing glasses, mail carriers, crying babies, toddlers, young children, teenagers, boys on skateboards, delivery people, people in uniform, people with backpacks, people with umbrellas, men on motorcycles, neighborhood children, inline skaters, people with various gaits, people in costume, joggers, clowns. Try to meet as many different types of people as possible!
EXPOSE TO DIFFERENT ANIMALS
Cows! Other puppies, older dogs, dogs of the same breed, dogs of different breeds, dogs of different color, size, shape, adult dogs, cats, kittens, horses, gerbils, rabbits, birds, hamsters...
EXPOSE TO TOUCH
Handle your puppy daily, touching him from nose to tail. Touch his ears, his toes, brush his teeth, clip his nails, brush his hair. This will help him when you have to visit the vet's office too!
EXPOSE TO NOISES
Gun shots! Start out quietly and then increase the level. Make sure he gets used to household sounds like the vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, smoke alarm, electric shaver, the tv, loud music, knocking, the garbage disposal, sirens, fireworks, thunder, lawnmower, blender, airplanes, popping balloon, food processor, air brakes on a big truck, horns, new years noisemakers, washer/dryer, loud speaker, bull horn, musical instruments, alarm clock...
Bubbles! skateboards, helium balloons, hot air balloons, agility equipment, traffic, crowds, play equipment in playgrounds, umbrellas, surfboards, stairs, fans, bags, boxes, remote controlled toys, ironing board, garbage trucks, motorcycles, ceiling fan, statues, bicycles, brooms, shovels, kites, automatic sliding door, automatic garage door, wheelchairs, stuffed toys, scooters, crutches, walkers, fax machine, shopping cart...
In a hammock! Veterinary office, groomer, boarding kennels, shopping malls, schools, dog shows, the yards of friends, playground, preschool, an elevator, crowds of people, rides in the car, train stations, bus stations, grocery stores, flea market, little league game, soccer game, car repair shop, puppy kindergarten, a firehouse, drive-thru McDonald's, hotels, car wash, tunnel, the beach...
Pile of leaves! Bubble wrap, grates, grass, dirt, pavement, rocks, rubber mats, wood chips, slick floors, wet floors, cement, bricks, snow, sand, weeds, soft cloths, hardwood, linoleum, bridges, water, mud, logs...