Monday, October 1, 2012

The Socialization Continues

Time is running out.  The Window of Socialization will be closing soon.  Although some socialization continues for the life of a dog, the "window" is from four weeks to four months.   That's the time period when the puppy can most easily make adjustments and learn new things.  The more novel and pleasant experiences a puppy has during that period, the more confident and well-adjusted he will be as an adult.  Playing "catch up" is never quite as good, and it's important to take advantage of this time period  for exposing the pup to all "normal" things it will encounter in its life as a companion, performance dog and/or showdog.

One of the most important things for pups to be exposed to and comfortable with is children.   Kids of all ages, loud ones, active ones, quiet ones.  Kids that cover pups with kisses and insist on hugging them, and kids who are fearful.  Fern and littermates were around a lot of children while the litter was being socialized, and Jess introduced Fern to Don's grandkids.  She's met children while on walks, and has taken cookies and petting from them, BUT she has never lived with them.  Never watched TV from a child's lap, been fed by a child, hugged on the rug by a child, or actively played with them.  Kids look, smell, act and sound different than adults do, and pups who do not get enough exposure to kids are often fearful of them, and some otherwise friendly dogs will even snap if they are "cornered" by kids and feel threatened.

Fern has exactly one week to go in the socialization period.  Where did time go?  Last week it occurred to me that she really needed a "dose of children".  Then, when she had a scary experience being grabbed by a screaming toddler, I KNEW we needed to be proactive about this.  Fern isn't a bold, fearless, devil-may-care type of puppy like her grandpa Argus, but rather a cautious, sensible one like Uncle Watson was as a pup.  Pups like that take a bit more work, but we try to socialize ALL pups as if they needed extra work, so no one gets less socialization that they need.  You can't easily go back.  The things we DON'T do now will be much harder to accomplish later.

Fern went to stay with Heather and her family for a few days.  Heather has two lovely daughters, a neighborhood full of children, four dogs (only one a Dal) and two cats.  A perfect place for Fern's education to continue!   I should have done this sooner, but I sort of lost track of time.  The window is still open for a bit longer though.  Thanks Heather!

No comments: