SOAPBOX ALERT! So far this year, PLR has placed nearly 400 puppies and young dogs in loving homes. We are now getting feedback that some of them "don't like new people and new things". Difficulty socializing your puppy is an unfortunate side effect of our current stay-at-home world.
Why this is important: As soon as your puppy comes home, time is of the essence for you to provide high quality socialization. Developmentally, the age between 8-16 weeks is the best time to do so.
Proper socialization just means putting introducing your pup to new situations in a safe, positive, confidence-building way. The goal is to create a self-confident, well-behaved puppy that is strongly bonded to you. It is also the key to preventing yappy, shy, and/or aggressive behaviors from developing later in life!
But How?? In today's reality, you will have to get creative. This is important and well worth the effort. Here are some ideas for exposure to new experiences that can be safely done in your neighborhood, home, or yard:
Different surfaces: grass, leaves, concrete, gravel, linoleum, carpet, wood, sand.
Different sounds: think of all the everyday sounds around your home, like hairdryers, ringtones, radios, disposal, vacuum cleaners. Be sure to make each noise exposure a positive experience by acting happy around the sound and associating the sound with yummy treats. Watch your puppy for signs of stress.
Other dogs: this can be done if you have other dogs in the neighborhood you know and trust to be safe and well-mannered with your puppy. The best-case scenario would be to enlist a trusted, healthy friend who is also a dog owner. Arrange safe play dates or walks with the other dog while maintaining a safe distance from the other owner. Even passing others while walking alone is a learning experience for your pup.
Other people: this may be the most difficult of all at this time, but there are still ways to achieve this exposure for your puppy. Certainly have your puppy socialize with all the members of your extended family who are healthy. Sit outside and watch your neighbors go about their day. Front lawn meet-and-greets have been popular with my PLR foster dogs and people can easily spread out. Also, consider all that your puppy can see and hear from the safety of your own car. Drive thru window anyone?
This is a great time to add a new puppy to your family. We hope these ideas will help ensure that every Peak Lab becomes a happy, well-adjusted companion.
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