You've heard that puppy socialization is important, but did you know there are right ways and wrong ways to do it?
In this part 1 of my interview with the authors of The Puppy Socialization, What It Is and How to Do It book, Marge Rogers & Eileen Anderson, learn how to set your puppy up for a more confident lifetime and aid your older dog in feeling more confident and relaxed.
Puppy socialization questions answered in this interview include:
– Where to socialize my puppy?
– Why is puppy socialization so important?
– What are some puppy socialization ideas?
– At what age does the socialization period start in puppies?
– What is the socialization period for puppies?
– How often should you socialize a puppy?
– Where should you take a puppy for socialization and are puppy socialization classes safe?
Learn more about Marge Rogers and Eileen Anderson's socialization techniques at https://puppysocialization.com/. You can find Eileen's blog at https://eileenanddogs.com/ and learn how to work with Marge at https://rewardedbehaviorcontinues.com/ .
Buy their book, Puppy Socialization- What It Is & How to Do It at any major retailer or on any e-reader.
Do you want help keeping track of all the sights, sounds, textures, places, and people that your doodle needs positive, ongoing, and quality exposures to?
Don't try to keep track of it all in your mind by using my free Doodle Puppy Socialization Checklist! Download it for free now at https://thedoodlepro.com/socialization.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: [00:00:00] Hello doodle parents. I am thrilled to have these two authors and expert trainers with us today. They wrote the book on socialization. I have it here, and if you're watching on camera, you'll see like all these highlights and tabs, and I just, this is a passion of mine as I feel it's so important to doodle parents.
But they are the ones who took that passion and made it their purpose and are arming you with how to do it right. Doodle socialization doesn't stop at puppyhood, but boy is puppyhood socialization important. They're going to tell you how to do it right and the why's as to why it's so important. Marge, can you first introduce yourself to our listeners?
Marge Rogers: Absolutely. Hi everyone. My name is Marge Rogers and I am a certified behavior consultant canine, [00:01:00] and also a certified professional dog trainer and a certified Control unleashed instructor. And my business is Rewarded Behavior Continues.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: Thank you, Marge. And we also have Eileen Anderson with us today.
Eileen Anderson: Hi, I'm Eileen. I don't have any fancy dog training credentials, but I have pretty good credentials as an author. I'm the blogger, Eileen and Dogs. I have an award-winning book besides our puppy socialization book, which we hope will win an award as well. Sure. And I've been in the dog world for more than 10 years as an author and blog.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: And Eileen's blog is phenomenal. I send it to clients all the time. Especially teaching your dog to sleep in. That is, that was a recent one, . Yes. That is a really popular one. Where could people find your blog? Eileen? It's
Eileen Anderson: eileenanddogs.com
Marge Rogers: Think it was Eileen's idea to write the book and Eileen [00:02:00] remembers that it was my idea to write the book , but whose ever idea it was.
We were glad we decided to collaborate. And part of my drive to get this information out to owners is because what I see from my puppy clients and people who are reaching out to me for assistance, either with puppies or with older dogs who have developed issues, there is some information starting to make it out into the general public.
If you ask your typical puppy owner, do you know. Puppy socialization is, most owners will have heard of it, but I don't know that they've gotten a lot of detail on how to do it. And when I started looking for sources to refer my clients to, there wasn't really much out there to really explain how to do this important thing.
And as trainers, we know, oh my gosh, [00:03:00] this is so critical to your puppy's behavioral development. It's gonna impact him for the rest of his life. Yes. That we don't provide a lot of detail on it. That was really what prompted this passion project, at least on my part.
Eileen Anderson: Mine too. Really? Marge and I have been collaborating on things for years and years, and I hear about her clients directly from her, and also I encounter it in my readers.
I know that there's this huge need out there for practical information on socialization , not just the theory, not just the science, which we believe in, we are strong in, but how to. And that's what we wanted to show people.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: And I agree. I think a lot of people know that there is a socialization checklist or that they could sign up for a socialization class, right?
But what I found wonderfully valuable about this book is it arms the parent. This is how you [00:04:00] do it step by step. This is what you watch for in the body language to know if your dog is experiencing fear, or if you're building joy and a positive connection to what they're being exposed to.
Obviously as a dog trainer, I think that we add something on people's lives with their dogs, but you don't need to use a trainer to have an enriching socialization process and plan with your.
Marge Rogers: Absolutely. And for me there was one piece and what I came across that many folks weren't aware of in their social socialization attempts or even living with their dogs.
And it was the key piece of the socialization puzzle on the resources that I found that wasn't really elaborated on. And that's canine body language. Yes. So if owners can't recognize the more subtle signs of fear and anxiety in their [00:05:00] puppies, they're not going to be able to help them feel better about the things that worry them if they can't identify what they are.
And. Key and I hear all the time, oh, my puppy loves everyone. He is not afraid of anything. He's bold and he is sassy. And I know there's some puppies out there like that, but even the most bold and confident puppies things that make them a little bit uncomfortable. In that critical period in their development, the sensitive period for socialization, we have so much more influence over how the puppy perceives things.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: Absolutely. I love the analogy of somebody talking to their neighbor and their child tugging at their shirt sleeve and just doing little tugs, and that's how they're trying to get their attention.
And you ignore cuz you're having an adult conversation and they tug harder. And then it turns into them saying mom mommy, And those tugs are what we're watching for in the body language [00:06:00] before it has to get to barking or fully hiding. And all of those other ways that a dog has to be louder to tell us that they're uncomfortable or fearful.
The book gives video access to the readers to be able to see what different body language shows and how to interpret it.
And I think that's really helpful that if you were to read most books, you wouldn't be able to access. But if we're talking about the importance of body language, I agree that it's missing from a lot of the dialogue about socialization. Can you share a little more with some examples of what that would look like with someone's puppy?
Marge Rogers: Oh, absolutely. That's part of the reason we wanted to include videos because there's resources with drawings, there's some resources with photographs, but in real time it happens so fast you, can barely catch it. And we talk about body language occurring in clusters and what we mean by that [00:07:00] is you don't wanna just look or isolate on one body part, you wanna look at the dog or puppy as a whole.
So what does his body language look like when possible? I meet with the owners ahead of time and we review canine body language. And then the first session with the puppy, I'm there when they're getting the puppy out of the car so I can observe and see what the puppy is doing. And, I narrate that.
So let's see. Oh, his tail is a little bit low and he's sniffing around or look how he's avoiding me or look how he's running up to me and his body looks soft and loose. His tail is high, his tail is low, his ears are back. So not only body parts, but what behavior is the puppy exhibiting? Is he interacting with the environment?
Is he looking around? Is he frozen and stiff? And just waiting for something to happen. . What we know about this sensitive period for socialization is that the puppies little bodies are [00:08:00] primed to encounter new things, to be more accepting of new things. That's part of the reason we call it the sensitive period for socialization.
And they're programmed to bounce back, if you will, if they encounter something that they might be a little bit worried about. With that in mind, that is the bell curve, if you will. I expect puppies to be a little bit affiliative or the majority of puppies are gonna look, oh, I'm in a new place.
What is that? And be curious about it. So when I see puppies who are maybe a little bit worried or a little frozen or a little unsure, Then we start talking about that and what we can we do for that and is there bounce back from that. So I don't expect puppies to never be afraid, but I do expect them to recover quicker in that sensitive period for socialization.
So that's where if we as owners put a little bit of extra effort in during that period of [00:09:00] time, it pays off down the road then if we waited until later to start these activities.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: So if we were to talk timing of that bell curve, can you talk to me about the weeks where that occurs? I'll
Eileen Anderson: It starts earlier than people think. It starts when puppies are about three weeks old. So many owners and guardians aren't gonna have their dogs yet, but the breeders will. And I bet we have some breeders listening here. That socialization starts as soon as their senses become active and in those first periods, you know everything. Everything is new. And puppies don't even have a physical fear response. They'll have a startle response if there's a loud noise or something. But fear doesn't kick in until later. So that very early period is a wonderful period for puppies to feel new textures, experience new smells, hear new sounds, because everything kind of slips in [00:10:00] because they're in their magical period.
And then somewhere around 6, 7, 8 weeks. When we usually get the puppy is when they become capable of fear.
Marge Rogers: Isn't that
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: crazy? That it is crazy. Apart from their littermates, mom, and new environment. On
Eileen Anderson: the other hand, they're still in the bounce back period. They're still in that sensitive period where they're designed to be little sponges who take everything in and yeah, they might get scared.
I have a great picture of a little too young seven week old rat terrier, looking at a plant leaf that was bigger than her, and she's like this and. 20 seconds later, she was like, oh, that's cool. Puppies will bounce back like that and you'll see that in some of our videos.
Actually. We have that in the puppy class videos of Marge's. So during that period, we have to watch for fear and we need to learn what a fear response looks like. And hopefully start to recognize if a fear response is over the top, like Marge has [00:11:00] talked about, and I should pass it back to her at this point, because that's something in her area of expertise.
Marge Rogers: So what we know for your listeners, what we know about how puppies develop behaviorally is that we have a limited time to expose them to the things they're going to encounter during the course of their lifetime. As Eileen mentioned, it starts around three weeks of age and right up until the time the puppy is 12 to 14 weeks of age, yes, they are more likely to approach things that scare them and more likely to be accepting of new things.
Cause everything's new at that age, right? And then once that socialization window, if you starts closing around 12 weeks of age, then puppies become less likely to approach things that scare them. I think it's kind of mother nature's way of saying, Hey, if you [00:12:00] encounter these things when you're a little tiny baby puppy, they're part of your world.
But if you encounter something later that you didn't see when you were a puppy, you should be wary because it could be a predator. So their natural response to novelty things they weren't exposed to, maybe things they were genetically predisposed to be wary of. If they encounter those later, let's say in adolescence around six or eight months of age their first response is going to be a fear-based response because that's something new in novel and.
I should be wary. I could be a predator and they don't quite have that bounce back when they're little. I have clients, grandparents, right? So they don't, maybe that grandchildren don't live locally. They visit during the holidays, but they get a summer [00:13:00] puppy. We wanna make sure that we're exposing that puppy to children during the sensitive period for socialization.
If it's. Six or eight months later and the puppies never been around children, guess what? The puppy's likely to be wary around children. Why? Because they're still human, but they move so differently than adults. Oh, completely. Yes. I come in from the end of a long day. I sit down, I interact with my dogs, I talk with my husband.
I don't jump on the couch. I don't have toys that make noise or different light of things. So very different. And children are eye level. So children are just one example of things. Yes. There's so much included and I think that oftentimes owners think of socialization as something we go away to do.
Yes. But there's so much that we can do at home to get our puppies used to things to expose them to and help them be comfortable with too. And[00:14:00] oftentimes people think socialization is just people in other dogs. But there's so much more than that. There's handling objects, novelty environments, other animals, time alone.
We could go on, there's a lot for puppies to get used to in a human world, so we want confident puppies, right? Yes. So we wanna make sure that we're helping them form positive associations with things during that sensitive period for socialization.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: And for doodles especially, a lot of people will say their coat isn't tangled yet, so I don't need to brush them.
But that window, your doodle is going to need to go to a professional grooming salon, most likely if you're not doing it at home. But either way, they have to be exposed to the tools every month, the rest of their life. Yes, and there's loud blowers. There's the clipper vibration, there's the handling of the pause, there's the brushing and combining and that starts day one.
Even [00:15:00] if their coat is tangled free, just cuz of their, happy when their
Eileen Anderson: coat is free of tangles is the perfect time. To start. Yes, ,
Marge Rogers: there's no
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: pain involved. It's easy and you can make it such a positive association. And if I think about, if people say my parents didn't have to do this, or the dog I grew up with didn't have this.
What we're asking of our pet dogs now has really evolved and changed. So they're coming into our home. They're not just on a link in the backyard or just staying in the doghouse. Literally. We not only expect them to be part of the family and welcoming and comfortable with our vacuum, our guests, the kids, the housekeeper coming in, or the person fixing the plumbing.
But we also take our pet dogs with us places. And that includes the different textures of the grate, the sound of the subway, the side of the bus, like[00:16:00] lights and sounds and feelings that. Your parents' dog probably didn't experience as we have a different level of expectation we have of them.
Marge Rogers: Absolutely. And you mentioned earlier the videos in the book. I always had short haired dogs growing up. And as an adult. And then we got a Portuguese water dog, which is a coated dog. And I'm like, what am I supposed to do? Whole New World ? Absolutely. So we have some videos in the book what do most puppies do when you start brushing them?
They bite the brush because just like toddlers, they learn by putting everything in their mouth, Hey, what's this thing touching me? So we have a video of a baby puppy zip in the book showing how to make it easier to. Happy and to help him form positive associations with the grooming process.
That's a great example. We expect dogs to just get [00:17:00] used to it. And a lot of people have told me that he just has to get used to it. But it really doesn't work that way and about it. Dogs are animals of an entirely different species, and especially as puppies, they have like razor sharp teeth in their mouth and they're coexisting in our world.
So it's really important one, that we learn what language they're speaking with, their body language that we recognize, that they have feelings and opinions. Sometimes they have big feelings about things. I don't like that blow dryer, and so if it's something that puppy is going to encounter during the course of his lifetime, the grooms, the clippers, the blow dryer, new environments, kids, whatever it is.
I don't want him to have a worried reaction about those things. I want him to be relaxed and confident [00:18:00] in the face of those things, and I as an owner, have the power to achieve that. Yes. I would have to start young.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: Yes. So Marge just next level dog parent I could see in your videos there's even a grooming table , so that they're used to being on the table.
And we actually have a lot of Portuguese water dog listeners because there aren't enough Porties around to be able to have the Portie Pro podcast . But a lot of, the high energy, longer puppyhood and coat care needs overlap heavily with our doodles. So shout out to all of our Portie families.
Marge Rogers: Yes. And I will say, boy, do they ever overlap everything you, just said extended puppyhood .
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: Yes. You are living it as well. So if we talk about, they just don't grow out of it. I think that's really important. A lot of people say they [00:19:00] just need to get used to it. You explain in the book that fear doesn't usually just go away, the more they're exposed to it that it actually, for our dogs really increases.
Eileen Anderson: One of the things to think about with fear is that it is a functional response. If you leave off dogs for a minute and just think of all the animals in the world, they need fear. We need fear. It saves our lives. Yeah. And so even though we don't want our dogs to be afraid of all these things in our lives, we definitely don't.
We need to understand that. Mother Nature does . Yeah. It's like it is a functional response and it's, a strong response. And if we don't clear the way during that socialization period, we're always gonna be pushing just a little bit uphill. I never stop these activities with my dogs. I'm always pairing good things with anything new, just because I know that fear is functional. It's always in the back, and it can come out at any [00:20:00] time.
Marge Rogers: Yes, absolutely. I think there's a tendency sometimes to picture our puppies, especially the fluffy, cuddly ones like Portuguese water dogs and doodles as like stuffed animals.
Yes. And when we do that and we don't recognize that they have emotions and fears and confidence and preferences, we are missing out on a magical, experience when you start having a two-way dialogue with your dog, because you can tell when he is nervous. You can tell when he is confident and you can listen to what he's saying.
It takes your relationship to the next level. It becomes magical. It does. Really does. And you as an owner of a puppy, have the opportunity to help [00:21:00] your puppy be confident in the world. And I will say you. Most doodle owners are so lucky, and Portuguese water dog owners by nature. They, I will say in general they develop strong socialization qualities from their parents.
They're very affiliative. They generally like people, but that doesn't mean your job is done, as you pointed out, the grooming, the noms, going to the veterinarian, loud noises, other dogs, people, all of those things have to be part of the socialization period. And I will say one thing I encounter frequently is that owners oftentimes think exposure alone is social.
I took my puppy to the kids' birthday party. I took him to the football game. I took him here, I took him there. And the one thing I want all owners to [00:22:00] understand, regardless of the age of the puppy or dog exposure alone, is not socialization. Socialization is the process of creating positive associations with the things that the puppy or dog is going to encounter during the course of the lifetime.
So if the puppy is there and he doesn't look scared to me, he looks fine. He's not barking and growling, or he is not sneaking away and trying to run away, I think he's fine. That's not socialization. Exposure alone is not socialization. We want the puppies to have a positive and enriching experience.
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: You'll see well-meaning parents bring their new puppy up to the school or up to the park, and of course this is a child magnet, like they are delicious. Why wouldn't a crowd of children rush around this puppy and high pitched [00:23:00] voices? Oh, the bunny. And put their little faces there, them and stuff.
And especially if you're holding this puppy, you have to be really sophisticated to be able to see the side eye, the little lip lick the ears. It's really hard to read the cues of that puppy, and I would almost guarantee they are not comfortable. But that could check a well-meaning parent's box of they just met 10.
Marge Rogers: Oh, and that's a great point. Socialization is not about just checking boxes on a checklist. We like a good checklist because it prompts us to think of things that. We might not have thought of in our limited experience, but it's not about just checking the box. We wanna make sure we're having a positive experience.
So we always start with the lowest intensity version of whatever we're. Exposing the puppy to. So if I live in a household without young [00:24:00] children as I do if I'm going to have my puppy meet children, I'm not gonna start with a group of children. I'm gonna start with one and I'm going to direct that interaction.
I'm gonna put my mama cap on my mama bear cap on, and I'm going to make sure that I direct that and the puppy is having a positive experience. And when I say that, I mean it's gonna be puppy's choice if they want to approach or not. That puts a lot of social pressure on people, right?
Because we have this cute little magnet, right? And everybody wants to see him. And my best friend comes running up, oh, you're a puppy. Stop . You literally teach that
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: in the book of practicing that stop because you are your puppy's bubble. You. Are managing what their exposure is and how they feel about it.[00:25:00] You are explicit in explaining, understanding first, the difficulty of that social pressure and telling your friend No, but practicing that stop before you're even in that scenario
Marge Rogers: I liken it too. You're walking down the aisle at the grocery store and you run into an old friend, and perhaps she has a toddler with her, and the toddler sees you approach and she steps behind her mom's leg and holds on to it. The mom doesn't rip the child's hands off her and hand her over and says, say hi.
Like the child peeks out and says hi in her own space. Or maybe she does it because it's just the stage that she's going through. And same with our puppies. Your puppy is depending on you to make things okay. And to let them go at their own pace. And that's what we want to do. Absolutely.
And the thing with fear is you [00:26:00] mentioned earlier, and it was a really great point If the puppy is a little bit worried about something, putting him in that situation over and over again is likely to make him more worried. It's the opposite of socialization. Puppies don't usually get over or get used to things that they're afraid of.
They often get more worried about those things, and we call that sensitization. It would be like taking somebody who's afraid of spiders on a trip to the Spider Museum. Come on, we're gonna go to the Spider Museum today. I might let them crawl on you. And
Corinne- The Doodle Pro™: as we talk about the how-tos, can you explain what you mean by pairing new things and good.
Eileen Anderson: We've been talking about positive experiences and making it pleasant for the puppy and keeping them happy. What do we know? Almost any puppy is gonna like most of [00:27:00] the time, food.
And food like almost always across the board and usually play. And these are the things that we will use to pair with these new experiences very carefully in a kind of a curated way to build these associations. You know when you go to your grandmother's house and you smell that pie going and you have this good feeling about the whole house and seeing your grandmother and, I'm not saying her pie is more important than grandmother, but it's all one thing and all those good feelings spread to everything in the house. We want the good feelings of food and play to help us spread to these things that are maybe not quite scary, but a little bit new for the puppy.
So literally you take food with you, you take a toy and you and like Marge said, you start with something [00:28:00] very low key, a very low intensity version of whatever it is. So we, say to start with a soup can, object that object is not gonna change. It's not gonna grab 'em, it's not gonna do anything but just sit there might tip over if they're very bold.
Let them look at the soup, can let 'em sniff it. Oh great. Here's a treat. Yes. Let them walk around. Oh great, here's a treat. And that soup, can you use that same system with anything out in the world? Oh look, there was a bus just went by. Here's a treat. And it, can sound robotic, but I promise you it's not, what it's doing is building feelings of safety for the puppy.
Feelings of happiness. And Marge does a lot with play and I should probably turn it over to her, but we want to know if the puppy can eat. That's something that tells us how comfortable they are because we're going to use food and if, they can't eat let's go.
We're too far. We've, [00:29:00] already, and we don't wanna try to just push things we wanna. End it there. Take 'em home, have a good time, try again, add a lower intensity. We wanna see if they can eat, we wanna see if they can play. And that is a step that a lot of people don't even know about and Marge is such an expert at it.
I'm gonna turn it over to Marge for exposures that are combined with play.
Marge Rogers: Yes. I love using play. Play is a huge part of my training program and I think my owners secretly love it when I tell them part of their homework is to develop a good play relationship with their puppy. There was ones. Studies cited by Dr. Karen overall that owners that play with their puppies end up with puppies and dogs that are more confident than if the owners didn't play with them or just let them play with the other dogs. So that play relationship is really important. I also love it because it's a great [00:30:00] barometer of the puppies internal state.
Like most puppies are hardwired to chase things that's scurry. So if I take that toy and I scurry it away on the ground, most puppies are going to chase after it. And I can have a little gentle interactive toy play tug with my puppy, if you will. Two fingers little easy baby puppy. We're not trying to lose puppy teeth.
Exactly. And it's not, I'm gonna win. It's an interactive game. Yes. I love it because play and fear generally, Speaking, especially in puppies that age are incompatible. So I love those two items as great barometers for the puppies. Internal state. Can you take food? Can you play? If I develop a great play relationship with my puppy at home and then I take him somewhere maybe to a park and I say, Hey, I brought your favorite toy, you wanna [00:31:00] play?
And the puppy doesn't play. That's just information and it prompts me to look a little closer at the body language. Is he not able to play and he is sitting there stiff like a statue? Or is he not able to play? Cuz he is exploring and investigating things and all legally and happy. It's a good prompt for me as an owner to look a little bit closer.
And if outings just become places where we go and we eat yummy food and we go and we play like what's not to love? And then I'm always asking those two questions. And if the answer to either is no, then again it's prompting me to look a little bit closer and maybe what I've chosen for our socialization outing, maybe the location I've chosen is too busy or too too active for my puppy to be able to [00:32:00] interact with me or to feel safe there.