Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Getting Serious About Socialization

Sleeping Beauty - Dallas 
One of the major differences between responsibly bred puppies and commercially bred puppies is Socialization.  Pups are socialized to people of all ages, including (and especially) children and seniors.  A reasonable goal would be for pups to be handled by and interact with at least 100 different people before they are ready for new homes.  All people sound and smell different to dogs, and it's important that the pups are exposed to and are comfortable with everyone.  Children also act different, with fast jerky movements, much different body language, and shriller voices.  Pups need to have positive experiences with children so they are comfortable in their presence.  
Because there are no small children in our family, I have to "borrow" kids.  Families with pups from our previous litters are often delighted to visit the new puppies, and things can be a real circus around here for awhile.  We have visitors before 4 weeks too, and the pups get lots of handling from the day they are born, but beginning at 4 weeks pups can tell the difference between their regular caregivers and strangers, so the socialization process is important.
Little whitey Baxter meets Grandpa Argus
Not all pups need a heroic amount of socialization, but in general it's very important with Dalmatians.  Some would grow up stable, outgoing, and trusting with very little human interaction, but that would be the exception in this breed.  We do maximum socialization with all pups to be sure they grow up to "be all that they can be".   You can never really make up for lack of socialization later - you can modify some behaviors and make things better, but the dog will never become quite what he might have been if raised properly.
Pups are socialized to people, things, other dogs, places, and experiences.  The pen is full of toys and the pups are starting to explore the rest of the basement.  Today they will come upstairs for the first time, and as the forecast is looking good they will go outdoors this weekend.  They will visit different parts of the house together and individually, will go for rides in the car to visit friends, be BAER tested, and receive their puppy check ups.  They've already been introduced to the other adults dogs here (except for 14 year old Watson who is no longer interested in puppies) and will be interacting with them when they come upstairs. 
So much to get accomplished in the next 4 weeks!  

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great article! There is a HUGE difference between my boy Bronco, who came from a great responsible breeder, and our boy Snoopy, who came from a rescue, and likely a back yard breeder. I love them both, but Bronco has a stable and open attitude about new things, where Snoopy is very guarded and uncomfortable anywhere beyond his known environs, despite tons of training and attempts to socialize him from about 10 months old. You can't make up for that time!