>I've got a new 10 week old lab puppy.
>She was out-going and friendly at the breeder's when I met her, but the
>introduction to new surroundings made her very timid. She's now gotten
>used to me, but new places (vet's, work place) and new people make her
>tuck her tail between her legs and hide behind me.
>I know that early socialization is important, but she hasn't had all of
>her shots yet so I don't want to take her anywhere too public.
>Unfortunately, I'm new in this town myself and I don't know anyone to
>I have two questions:
>1) Should I be worried yet at this young age?
No. The puppy is only 10 weeks old, eh? Socialization is absolutely
necessary, but there is GOOD socialization and then there is BAD
socialization. It's entirely possible to thoroughly RUIN some puppies
forever by IMPROPERLY socializing them.
The general idea is to expose your puppy to as many of the sights,
smells, sounds, and goings-on of life as you can WITHOUT having the
puppy experience any BAD situations.
The puppy is counting on YOU for SECURITY and PROTECTION during this
very difficult time, so it's your job to make sure that nothing BAD
ever happens to her during this very CRITICAL time (7-24 weeks).
The puppy also can pick up on YOUR own attitude to the things she is
experiencing. If you are FEARFUL and NERVOUS, she may just pick up on
that and become more fearful and nervous herself. ALWAYS do these
things in a CALM, playful, and confident manner.
If you're a fearful and neurotic basket case, there is a VERY good
chance that your puppy will grow up to be a fearful and neurotic
basket case, too!
>2) Any suggestions on how I might get her used to people at this stage?
Yes, get out there and have her meet a LOT of different people (men,
women, CHILDREN, blacks, whites, tall, short, etc.).
Take her to lots of different places, introduce her to the stairs, the
car, the ba***t, the homes of friends, relatives, and neighbors
(with no dogs, preferably, but if you are absolutely certain the dogs
are healthy, don't even worry about their dogs either), to CHILDREN,
to the leash (let her drag it around the house and yard, to the sounds
of the vacuum sweeper (preferably from another room), the washing
machine, etc., etc., etc.
Take her to the entrance of a mall somewhere (or a busy store), where
there is LOTS of pedestrian traffic and just sit there with your puppy
on a leash. Just keep her away from any strange dogs (i.e., dogs
whose health is unknown), especially other dog feces and urine.
Allow people to pet her, but don't be afraid to stop someone from
playing with her too roughly, etc. Give the strangers treats to give
to your puppy. Puppies are like PEOPLE MAGNETS, so you shouldn't have
any problems attracting lots of volunteers.
It's more important to properly socialize your puppy during this very
CRITICAL time than it is to isolate it at home in fear of it catching
some disease. This is very special time and it just cannot be lost!
You just have to use your head and stay away from the WRONG things,
like strange dogs, feces, urine, etc.
After 16 weeks, you can continue her socialization to other dogs (she
already had 7 weeks of socialization to her littermates and mom,
etc.), cats, etc.
Good luck with your new Lab puppy!
PS: You should also consider getting the book, "The Art of Raising a
Puppy," by the Monks of New Skete.
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