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Monday, April 20, 2009

On Puppy Socialization

Criket Hollow Black Lab Pup
All too often the Lab Brats receive such compliments as: "They are so well behaved." "What trainer did you use?" "They are just so sociable and calm." Well, yes, yes and yes again. They may be called the Lab Brats but that is due to their goofy nature rather than any social flaw. They are calm, stable, gentle, friendly, submissive, well-behaved and extremely respectful.

So, what caused them to become this way?

Our breeder enlightened us to the important of puppy socialization. That is to say that from a very early age (shortly after birth through today), our pups have been introduced to a variety of different people, places and things that may make other pups run with their tails between their legs if not introduced properly.

The AKC had recently released a "must read" article entitled "The Importance of Puppy Socialization" by Arliss Paddock, in which the author walks the readers through an brief introduction of newborn social behaviors, windows of opportunity, strategies, "100 people by 12 weeks", and a standard of care.

I found myself nodding along with the article and wishing that more Labrador Retriever dog owners would take the time to read it - especially during the early stages of their pup's life. The article itself mirrors the process by which Cricket Hollow Farm Labradors (breeder of the Lab Brats) own breeder follows on each and every puppy. This particular breeder has outlined the following information on their puppy page:

"We are careful about where our precious little ones are going. We do our utmost to ensure the babies will be all they can be, we start them off right by using the BioSensor method of neurological stimulation. We also socialize our puppies extensively to ensure they will be happy, healthy additions to their new families. We take special care in deciding which puppy goes where by use of extensive puppy aptitude testing."

So before the Lab Brats even came home, at 8 weeks old each, they had extensive socialization. Once they became part of our pack, we continued that socialization slowly but progressively.

That, coupled with daily training, bonding, and exercise, has produced highly social, well-behaved, thoughtful, intelligent and awesome family canine companions that continue to make us proud and add more joy to our lives every day.



Anonymous LabPat said...

I've got a question: we have a year old yellow lab who is quite well behaved but she is still pretty irrepressible when she meets new folks. She is better when she is out on the leash but at home she is maxed out. When she hears someone new enter the house, she starts to whine as if she was in pain because she wants to see them so much.

We are slowly working on this, but it is slow compared to other training points.

Is this normal for her age or is there something specific you can suggest?

May 01, 2009 10:34 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

First, she is still very young so now is the perfect time to use positive reinforcement training.

The main thing is to drain as much of her energy as possible with structured walks or some time at a local dog park before having guests over. When the guests arrive, have them totally ignore her. Only give her attention when she is a quiet and submissive state.

I know this sounds a little difficult but it gets better with time. Our girls go crazy when people come over but I have always told the people to ignore the dogs and to keep moving or walking in the direction they want. If you ignore the bad behavior and give praise to the good behavior, she will begin to learn what action she needs to take to get her to lovin' she wants. :)

Hope that helps! Let me know how to goes.

May 04, 2009 3:45 PM  

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