Good morning.  First let me say that I had an amazing sleep, no being wakened by the cries of someone who wants on the bed.  Is it that the new "alarm" rule has already set in or that she was very, very tired?  I would not be surprised if Miss Elsa already has the change of rules set but I guess a couple more nights will be needed to know for sure.

Today I want to discuss socializing.  Socializing:  to make fit for life in companionship with others.  I like this definition, it pretty much says it all.  I am very big on socializing and at 10 months of age we are still at it with Elsa.  Every day we are out looking for new dogs, different people, environments and general life experiences that she has yet to see.  There is nothing that can replace socializing.

As far as dogs are concerned socializing should start very, very early.  A good breeder will have their puppies out and about.  Of course they need to remain in a safe environment so that can simply be their own home.  A new room everyday, a different part of the backyard, a puppy pool, buckets piled up, dirt, sand etc etc.  They should be meeting different people too, small, big, gentle, rough, loud, you get the picture.  Puppies need a lot of different experiences.

There is a vast difference between puppies who have been given the opportunity to get out and explore the world versus those who remain in the whelping box until they go to their new home.  The ones who have been out and about will be able to adapt more easily in general.  Of course there are always puppies who don't thrive on lots of socialization and need a special home.  Some puppies will never be social butterflies, they are just different socially.  This is where the breeder needs to place puppies accordingly and NOT per color or birth order (this is another subject but one I am just as passionate about.)

Puppies who remain in a box or kennel during their first 6-8 weeks of life are most definitely handicapped as far as life experience.  You can make up for the lack of work that the breeder put into socializing by making sure you get them out and experience life.  But some puppies may have lasting effects of missing out.   I have worked with puppies who have come from many different back grounds and those puppies that get out and explore life are much more willing to continue.  They seem more confident and are ready to learn whereas the sheltered puppy is more apprehensive about life in general.

Every time we are out we see something new.  It could be how a person is walking, a whole herd of small children, a weird statue, loud and different noises and Elsa takes it all in.  Yesterday we had a great one on one time at the park.  I went to a park where I use to do frisbee with Tilley a lot.  I took Elsa here to another part for skateboard socializing when she showed some fear at a young age. When she was a puppy she seemed quite afraid of the loud things flying by.  We sat and watched for a couple of days until I saw that she could relax around them.  Yesterday as we walked towards the skateboarders her head went up along with her ears and she gave a small bark.  We haven't seen a lot of skateboarders in a while.  But she quickly calmed, it was almost like "oh, okay I know this."  I could see it happen very clearly through her body language.

We went on past calmly and hit the secluded field for some power retrieving.  It was great fun and when we were done there we made our way around the skateboard area again and out to a different field beside the skateboarders to do some more retrieving.  I wanted to be good and sure that she is fine around these very loud and fast guys or girls.

Elsa is the type of dog that doesn't miss a thing, I mean that very literally.  She is constantly aware of her surroundings, how people walk, the noises of life, everything.  But she also generalizes well, indicating that if she's seen a statue in a park that she has established is just that, a statue, then she's pretty good with new statues at alternate parks.  It is all about life experiences, associations and valuable social interactions.  With each new life lesson under their belt they are much more capable of taking on new experiences.

Along with giving your dog life experience comes your part in the whole process.  Your dog is watching you and when you react they are very aware of your actions.  Act according to what you want to convey in your life lessons.