Aisling Labradors  

Quality Traditional Dual Purpose Labrador Retrievers
Champion Lines

Socialization: A MUST!

"... development of a confident, emotionally competent animal depends not only on the new owner and trainer, but on the environment of the breeder." Dr. Joy Pate (Penn State University)

Why do so many dogs end up in shelters? 

Behavioral problems.  The greatest cause of death in dogs under the age of three is because of the dogs behavior.  Early socialization is a MUST. 

Litter Socialization begins immediately.

Socializing puppies must include pleasant experiences with unknown dogs, surfaces, places, and anything that your puppy is going to experience as an adult.   As Breeders, we are committed to the early socialization of our puppies to provide a solid building block for you to continue the process after you take your puppy home.  We commit to provide positive experiences for our litters; experiences that include car rides, veterinary visits, cats, chickens, children, and other dogs.  Our goal is to maximize the potential of every puppy in each litter through stimulating it's learning ability, interests and natural instincts.

Neonatal or Newborn Period (Birth to 14 Days)

Whelping litters in a a "sitting room" adjoining our bedroom provides a safe place for both the Dam and the litter away from the other dogs. Equipped with a TV, Desk, and seating, we will settle in throughout the day and socialize the newborns, one at a time, by handling and stroking.  Puppies that are handled early exhibit a more rapid development in organ systems and motor coordination. At least once each day, each puppy will be cuddled in various positions helping to build trust.

Transitional Period (14-21 Days)

Puppies will leave the whelping box and move to an ex-pen that has 2 sections; one section made comfortable for sleeping and playing and the other prepared as a "potty area". This method prepares the puppies for the eventual house training that will be completed by their new family.   Continuing the one on one handling of each puppy gets them used to having their ears, feet and mouth examined/touched. This prepares them for the nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing they will experience in their new homes.  They also get their first bath during this week.  By day 21, all of the puppy's senses are intact.

Socialization Period (21 to 70 days)
The weaning process begins by allowing a few hours each day where mother and puppies are separated;  the weaning process is not forced.  The puppies are introduced to food (Purina Pro Plan Focus). "Response and reward" training begins.

It is time to "pedipaw" the toenails; examine their mouths and clean ears with cotton swab. Puppies will be introduced to our "grooming table" and outdoor shower where continued "response and reward" training will be done. The puppies will be introduced to visiting grandchildren under close supervision.

The introduction of different toys begins by providing "toys" with variations of sounds, touch and smells. The ex-pen will be moved downstairs to the more active area of our home and the puppies are introduced to the outside beginning with short periods of time in the fenced in yard. 

As they grow and as weather permits, they are contained outside for longer periods of time in a large, covered dog pen. Here they are exposed to the sounds of traffic, farm tractors, strangers working in the fields that surround them and so on.  A running hose introduces them to water, followed later by supervised play in a baby pool.  They will be introduced to crates during this period.

Juvenile Period (70 days and older)

Socializing is a life long process. This is where you take over. This is also when the puppy learns "fear". From 8 - 11 weeks, it is very important that you continue to introduce your puppy to new things.  

Consider "Puppy Kindergarten -  Your puppy will be able to meet other people, different breeds of dogs, exposing him to informal obedience and manners and social skills.

Continue to introduce your puppy to all sorts of people; people with beards, hats, wheelchairs, and uniforms and of different races.  Be consistent with any "commands" you give during the introductions. Discourage barking during the introduction and encourage the correct behaviors - a visit to your pet store and a ride in the shopping cart exposes your puppy to sights, sounds, and people while keeping it safe until it receives all its shots.   After the second set of shots, consider taking your puppy to a mall entrance or flea market; its "manners" can be learned when other people say hello.  

At 13 weeks, your puppy begins cutting teeth; discourage play biting from the first day home but expect the puppy to be experimenting with just how far he/she can push you testing dominance and leadership.  Provide the puppy with wet tea/dish towels tied in a knot, frozen Kongs filled with their regular moistened puppy food, ice cubes, old boxes that they can destroy, Nylabones and even pieces of wood (unless your puppy eats what he/she chews, sticks are safe for them to chew on).  Labradors are "mouthy" - they are going to chew and bite so give them things that they are allowed to chew and bite on - this is a stage that will pass quickly and it can be managed with a bit of planning.  For more information on training, which begins the day you bring that little puppy into your home, see our Training page.

Socialization should never end.  The more your Labrador experiences of life at your side, the better companion you will have!