Whoa Nellie!

I like to think about things in small pieces -- training dogs, my day, goals, etc. And so I see a puppy outing as a collection of small pieces -- travel, new place, new people, possibly new dogs, new germs, etc. Each of those brings a challenge that has to be mastered, and they are best done separately; flooding a puppy is rarely a good plan.

A concerned puppy is not always obvious. She will attempt to get away, won't make eye contact, and will probably whine a bit. Sometimes the signs are subtle, and sometimes people mistake those overload signs for a puppy "trying to be the boss" and make things worse by forcing a puppy to submit. Puppies don't try to be the boss, FYI -- there is no devious plan on the part of fluffy puppies to take over the world. Fake news.

If a puppy is concerned on an outing, how does the human know which of the items on the Overload Buffet triggered the concern? You can't. Oops.

Therefore, I advocate breaking puppy socialization into small pieces and working them separately. It can look like this:

New Dog Friend: Have the dog come over to your house, thereby decreasing other novel stimuli. Keep the new friend on leash if she is overly forward.

New Human Friend: See above, including the leash part.

Travel: Pack up the puppy and drive around the town -- no need to get the puppy out.

New Place: Keep it low key and minimize other novelties.

Don't combine stuff for a puppy until each piece is solid all by itself. 

We want to avoid teaching a puppy Learned Helplessness, which is exactly what we do when we flood a puppy and/or force them to endure a concerning situation or experience. Learned Helplessness is what causes freezing or "shut down" -- we don't ever want that in a puppy or a dog. Instead, we want a bold and happy puppy who believe she can -- in all situations.

So keep the Puppy Socialization Train at low speed, avoid Flooding, and work towards mastery of smaller components in situations/experiences before charging ahead. 

And remember -- outside puppies on standard vaccination schedules WILL be possible sources of parvo infection because of the windows of disease susceptibility inherent in that protocol (due to maternally-derived antibodies blocking the vaccination). Therefore, my puppy will not be around other young puppies until she is fully protected (likely 11 - 12 weeks). 

Having a new puppy fills us with good intentions, enthusiasm, and the excitement that comes with a clean slate -- but remember there is nothing that has be learned RIGHT NOW if there is the potential of causing real damage for later. Think slow and steady, mastering the baby steps one at a time. All about balance, I suspect...

Chrome telling a secret to her grandma...

Zoey loves the Sparklers, and is a patient, sweet grandma.

 

2 comments

by CA Heidi :-) on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 14:28

This is a good primer for any learning, I think -- canine or otherwise.

~H

by Mari on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 17:14

So neat to see those pictures! What have Sydney and Harper B thought about all the puppy palooza?

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