Puppy socialization class

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by Megs, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. Megs

    Megs Registered Users

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    Hi all,

    Any advice on how many days after coming from the breeder with our 8 week-old puppy to start a socialization class? We are in lockdown so this will be a 20 minute curb-side drop off ‘puppy party’ with a small group of six puppies (with a video feed for us anxious puppy parents waiting outside!) The puppy parties complement a 5-session ‘puppy pre-school’ that is now going to be virtual/online for at least the first 2-3 weeks after we bring Chewie home.

    There is one session in the evening three days after he gets home, and another a week after. Are puppies like babies in that planning activities at the end of the day is often a bad idea? After reading all the expertise on the importance of socialization in weeks 8-12 I am a bit reluctant to wait a whole week. But I also assume it may depend on the puppy. If that’s the case, what signs do I look for? Like, eating normally for a certain period of time? Or should I just go for it and watch for signs as we proceed. The sessions book fast and there’s only one spot left in each time slot.

    Getting excited! It’s 3:40 AM here in Toronto and I am up before the sun planing the next few weeks as we are picking up our pup on Sunday.

    Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Registered Users

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    Hi Megs

    Can you please explain who looks after your puppy when you drop them off?

    In answer to your question socialisation happens all the time at your puppy's age. The primary thing is not to over do it. The puppy should view everything new as wonderful. If not, then back off and create distance. So, my question who is looking out for your puppy? How many individuals are looking out for the puppies in the class?
     
  3. 5labs

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    Will your puppy be fully vaccinated at least a week before the first class?
    To be honest this whole thing sounds like an utter nightmare. Imaging a room full of different sized puppies put together for 20 minutes. What does your puppy do if it is not comfortable and you are not there? In the best case scenario, that all the puppies are the same age, size and temperament and all get on fine, the best you could get out of this is an overly dog sociable puppy who thinks it's fine to run up to any dog they see.
    Personally, I go about socialising my puppies in a much more controlled way.
     
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  4. Joy

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    I agree with the comments above and would definitely not hand your puppy over for a group puppy party. The best thing you can do is to carry your puppy out and about so that he can see all the things in your environment that he will meet as an adult - so this depends on where you live but it will certainly be people of all shapes and sizes and it could be cars, lorries, cows, sheep etc. You can do this before he is vaccinated as he will remain in your arms.
    Just realised that you are in Canada, so if it is too cold to do this perhaps take him somewhere in the car and then park and let him watch the world from the window, or through an open car door if that won't freeze you solid!
    When he is vaccinated it is best to let him meet calm, confident adult dogs - so pre-arranged meetings with friends or a trainer with 'stooge' dogs. Your puppy doesn't need to play with other puppies, he needs to learn to behave appropriately around other dogs, and most importantly to interact with you.

    An exciting time for you - good luck!
     
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  5. Megs

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    Thanks for taking the time to give me feedback. I appreciate any and all thoughts and concerns. And definitely the fact that I cannot go in because of covid is my biggest concern. But, hmmm some feedback is interesting since most vets and trainers that I have come across advise to do these kinds of classes at this stage before being fully vaccinated. In answer to questions: They are not exactly parties, but socialization experiences with trainers with other puppies. Three people in a big indoor space and six puppies. A new space. Adults besides me. A place to run off leash where no exposure to disease can take place (Any dog who enters the facility has had their vaccines up to date and only people who are keeping their puppies off the street/dog park are allowed. Only other puppies are there to keep the puppies safe as it is before the third round of shots.) There are a few trainers there and it's a very well-known and recommended trainer. I have been told that the puppies adjust very well and all the trainers encourage it in the first week. They have live cams (just like at day cares) so we can see what is happening while waiting outside. And if the puppy is uneasy in any way they can come out. It's just a new experience and an opportunity for interaction and feedback from the trainer, who we know from online puppy classes, which are virtual because of we are in a full lockdown here. Maybe my question best directed to those who who have done pre-fully vaccinated puppy classes? When was your 8 week old lab comfortable enough in their new surroundings to try something like this out? Have any of you done similar classes during lockdown? Given covid I feel unsure given I won’t be there.
     
  6. 5labs

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    It seems like you have pretty much made your mind up that you want to go.
    The only puppies that I have trained (I am a gundog trainer in the UK) that have been to puppy parties (or 'socialisation classes') have been either over socialised horrors which I have ended up helping re-homing, or nervous, leash reactive dogs.
    https://thelabradorforum.com/threads/socialisation-in-lockdown.29700/#post-403161
    Socialising puppies is a lot more than letting them rough house with other puppies.
     
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  7. Michael A Brooks

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    Hi Megs
    Thanks for your reply.

    It is common to have such experiences here in Australia. It is my understanding that puppy pre school is common in a number of different countries. But there is a major difference. Each puppy is under control and on lead. Each owner has her own puppy. The instructor observes the puppies. Then gets two or at most three puppies to be off lead. Two is the most common number. They are selected based on size and temperament so that bullying is not avoided. If one puppy is having a bad experience then the owners and instructor separate the pair.

    In your case I don't understand how three individuals will control the puppies. Three individuals means each person needs to control two puppies. A very difficult task in the case of puppies. It would seem that the assistant might have to pick up two puppies to separate them. But the puppy may find such handling by a stranger to be a bad experience.

    I fully understand that this awful pandemic has made the situation of socialisation difficult. And that certain changes have had to be made.

    Perhaps you can ask to look at live video of the modified interaction before letting your puppy be exposed to it. Avoid a free for all with all puppies running around off lead. Observe what the assistants do when one puppy starts to bully another puppy. Work out how they are showing the puppies to be calm in the presence of strange dogs. How is one assistant able to manage two on lead puppies while teaching them to be calm. In non-pandemic situations each owner might have her own puppy in her lap. Not possible in the case you have described.

    In answer to your question socialisation starts at about 3 weeks. So, 8 weeks is fine. But it is absolutely crucial that socialisation has to be done properly. The puppy must have a good experience. Otherwise your dog may well end up with behavioural issues. All of us here have the intention of avoiding that.

    If you do go ahead perhaps you can tell us the actual mechanics of how they managed 6 puppies.
     
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  8. Michael A Brooks

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    Correction

    Is avoided bullying not permitted
     
  9. Megs

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    Michael thanks for this. I think after all this feedback I am going to call and find out more details before going ahead. I do live right by a big off leash park so many of my neighbours are dedicated dog people. It’s pretty easy to arrange for socialization on our front porch, even when it’s -10 degrees! We have a Facebook page and I have already had lots of offers. I was going to do this anyway.

    i presume that this trainer offering puppy socials is not alone in offering these puppy socials. But maybe I just need to do a bit more research on their value. Some if the critical points made here in response to my post definitely make me wonder.
     
  10. Michael A Brooks

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    Hi Megs
    You might find Jo Laurens' podcast on socialisation under the pandemic to be useful. It can be found on her website Hold the Line.
     
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  11. Megs

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    I will. Thanks!
     

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