I know it’s important to socialize Ferris while he’s still young. Coming from a shelter environment with different care givers, and lots people coming in looking to adopt did provide a type of socializing, but puppies need to continue to be exposed to new people, dogs, and situations.
Puppies have a kind of window of opportunity for socializing that starts closing fairly rapidly by the time they are around 4 months old. Unfortunately, that window overlaps with what is commonly known as a fear period, where seemingly uneventful (to us) negative, or frightening experiences can result in a lifelong phobia for a dog (fear of loud noises, fear of children or other dogs, etc.) Add to that the fact that puppies don’t always have fully developed immune systems which makes them more susceptible to disease, and suddenly getting them out and about for socializing can become tricky to say the least. It’s a bit of a balancing act – exposing him to new things, while keeping him safe, and making sure the experience is a positive one.
Fortunately Ferris already has good doggie social skills, and my other dogs will play a big part in continuing that part of his education. My problem is I don’t tend to have a lot of visitors. That can make socializing him with new people something I have to seek out.
I planned to enroll him in a puppy class. It’s a fun way to socialize a pup with both new people and other dogs. I was bummed to find out that the training club where I currently take my dogs for classes did not have any openings in their upcoming puppy class, so that’s out. I’ll probably take him through basic obedience in the spring, but that won’t do me any good right now.
Last week we went to the vet for his post adoption exam. Whenever I take in a new puppy I make sure the staff plays “pass the puppy”. I hand the pup over to the receptionist and while I wait for my appointment she holds him, and then hands him off to one of the techs, who holds him and then hands him off to someone else and then someone else… until it’s time to go into the exam room. We play “pass the puppy” on every visit until the vaccine boosters are finished, or the puppy is too big to pass around. When Huck was a baby he loved “pass the puppy” and a few times ended up up fast asleep in someone’s arms by the time we were due in the exam room. It’s great for socializing and also a positive experience at the vet’s office which is always a bonus!
This week Ferris met Griffin, my favorite grocery delivery guy, and Jose, my lawn guy. He did great with both of them…so far so good.
This weekend we’ll drive out to my brother’s house for a visit. He has a big family, so there are usually quite a few people around. Even better, they are dog lovers, and have two dogs of their own. That means Ferris will get to meet a couple of new dogs too!