Wednesday, November 25, 2009


So now that I'm comfortably recovering from my spay I thought I would write a bit about the importance of socialization. I won't be doing much of it for the next couple of days while I rest. However, I sure have done a lot over the last five months!

In a puppy's life, eight to 15 weeks old are very important. During this time I start developing associations with things--positive or negative. If given the opportunity to have a confident and safe introduction to a variety of stimuli, a puppy develops health associations with the world and are outgoing, confident, and calm. Not given the opportunity and well, things are more difficult.

Basically, every day I was carefully introduced to new people, situations, surfaces, sounds, animals, toys, and novel situations in which I eat.

  • children under 5
  • children from 5-10
  • children from 10-15
  • children from 15-20
  • tall people
  • short people
  • large people
  • small people
  • people with different skin tones and complexions
  • people with long skirts
  • people with glasses
  • people with hats
  • elderly people
  • people with disabilities
  • hats
  • umbrellas
  • running
  • biking
  • shouting
  • singing
  • wheelchairs
  • walkers
  • canes
Are you tired yet? I'm not! I got to encounter all sorts of new situations:
  • restraints
  • grabbing
  • having my tail held
  • having my ears held and inspected
  • getting hugged (I don't complain!)
  • holding my paws and touching my nails
  • having my head pat
  • getting my collar grabbed
  • nail trims
  • brushing (I still try to eat the brush)
  • being turned on side
  • getting rolled over
  • getting my teach inspected
  • getting picked up
  • getting massaged (dogs complain about this??)
  • dark places
  • wind
  • rain
  • snow (still waiting for this!)
  • bath tubs
  • elevators (scared me, but I'm over it!)
  • car rides
  • riding in shopping cars
Let's not forget about all the fun things I get to walk over. I also am getting introduced to different surfaces:
  • grass
  • concrete
  • bark
  • leaves (I love them!)
  • metal 
  • grates (the metal grates in Cambridge scare me!)
  • wood
  • uneven
  • hard plastic
  • plastic sheets
  • loud
  • soft
  • sand
  • wet 
  • slippery
  • warm/cold
  • shallow water
  • deep water
  • inclines
  • slides
  • stairs
  • tile
  • mud
  • tippy board
Like most puppies, I get a little scared by unfamiliar sounds. Look at all the things I'm getting introduced to! Usually what happens is when I hear a new sound I get a small treat--this works so well that I now thing the vacuum cleaner is a treat dispenser!
  • constant loud sounds
  • loud variable
  • loud mechanical
  • hairdryers
  • coffee grinders (every  morning I hear it!)
  • vacuums
  • showers
  • traffic
  • honking (this happens a lot when I drive into work)
  • waterfalls
  • shopping carts
  • hammering
  • construction vehicles
  • screaming/laughing children
  • barking dogs
  • loud music
  • singing
  • beeping
  • babies
  • dropping pans
  • lawn mowers
I've gotten to travel to all sorts of new places:
  • obedience school
  • pet store
  • parking lots
  • downtown
  • country
  • woods/forest
  • beach/river/stream
  • garage sales
  • playgrounds
  • outdoor restaurants (really hard not to eat all the food!)
  • subway
I've met all sorts of other animals:
  • big dogs
  • small dogs
  • hairy dogs
  • white dogs
  • dark dogs
  • dogs with cropped tails
  • wrestling dogs
  • chasing dogs
  • cranky dogs
  • friendly dogs
  • serious dogs
  • friendly cats
  • unfriendly cats
  • birds
I even get socialized to all sorts of different toys including tennis balls, rubber balls, fleece tugs, squeekie toys, stuffed toys, treat cubes, bones, rope toys, cardboard boxes, 2 liter bottles, leashes, and a whole bunch of wacky cat toys.

My favorite part of socialization is learning how to eat from different things such as:
  • metal and plastic bowls
  • kongs
  • treat cubes and balls
  • paper palates 
  • plates
  • glass
  • eating off the grass and concrete
Wow! That's a whole lot of work. Even though I'm older than 15 weeks I'm still being introduced to new things and as often as possible, being reintroduced to things I've already known. It's exhausting work (especially the eating part) but it is building me up toward being a good therapy dog!

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