Socializing Young Puppies

March 01

--by Julie Morrill

Here at Marble Mountain Kennels we believe strongly in socializing your puppy. Socializing teaches your puppy that people are kind, friendly and trustworthy, so they won’t be afraid of human contact. It also helps your puppy to grow into a confident, outgoing, friendly, good-natured dog. If done incorrectly or not at all, a puppy can develop fearful, aggressive behaviors. But one thing you should know is that we only begin the process here at our place; you need to continue the practice with your puppy after you take him home.

When we socialize your puppy here at Marble Mountain Kennels, we make sure he is exposed to many different people—kids, adults, males and females. Furthermore, since a Lab’s nose is one of his strongest assets, he picks up on the many different odors related to a variety of people—different perfumes, shampoos, foods, and even fabrics. We suggest that you do the same. It’s also important that people interact safely, positively and gently with your puppy so he doesn’t get injured or develop any fears from a negative experience.

As a general rule, we insist that children under the age of ten be seated on their derrieres before holding a puppy in their laps to make sure that puppies aren’t dropped. We think it’s important for even adults to be seated while holding puppies, because their movements are unpredictable. They’ll toss, turn and wriggle right out of your arms in the blink of an eye. If you’re not extra careful, a puppy can be dropped and he might break his leg or worse.

How about socialization with other dogs? We do that too. Labs are social pack animals. They enjoy being with other dogs or humans. When only one or two pups are born in a litter, we like to allow those puppies time to interact with pups in another litter. Pups need to learn to get along with other dogs and that skill is developed at a young age. When puppies get to be about seven weeks of age, they are allowed to interact with other gentle adult mama dogs. This teaches them respect for their elders, since another mama dog will often growl at a rambunctious puppy who jumps up on her or chews on her tail. (By the way, we correct our pups-in-training with a low “Grrr” or gravely “Nah” sound, rather than saying “No.” The more a correction sounds like a growl, the quicker a puppy will understand and respond, because we’re speaking his language.)

After you bring your puppy home, it’s important to expose him cautiously and carefully to other pets in your home. Make sure that these other pets are gentle and accepting. Aggressive or fearful dogs could react in ways that traumatize your puppy and cause life-long fear reactions. But also realize that a new puppy can be an annoyance to even the sweetest of pets and your pup will likely get a quick scratch on the nose from a cat or a little nip and growl from an older dog. Just remember that they’re speaking a language he understands, so he’ll recover and quickly learn to respect his elders and figure out his rank and place in his new pack.


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