Why do so many dogs end up in shelters?
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, 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 take place in a part of the house chosen by the Dam. (Kona likes to begin her labor in the Living Room where all her pack mates are gathered before moving to her whelping box after the first puppy is delivered while Dreama wants to be in my office where she and I are alone. Time will tell where our Bree will want to become a Mom!)
Although we interfere in the whelping process as little as possible, puppies are weighed and handled from birth. Puppies that are handled early exhibit a more rapid development in organ systems and motor coordination. At least once each day beginning on day three, each puppy will be cuddled in various positions helping to build trust.
Puppies receive ENS training from day six to sixteen.
Transitional Period (14-21 Days)
Puppies will leave the whelping box and move to a play yard that has 3 sections; one section made comfortable for sleeping and playing, one prepared as a "potty area" and another that is a 'containment" area for the twice daily changing of the indoor-outdoor carpeting that protects their hips and elbows. This method prepares the puppies for the eventual house training that will be completed by their new family. The containment area will hold a crate in the last week before they leave for their forever homes for them to explore and catch a nap in. (In our experience, there are always one or two who begin to sleep voluntarily in the crate!)
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)
Puppies are introduced to our "grooming table" and outdoor shower where continued "response and reward" training will be done. The puppies are introduced to visiting grandchildren under close supervision.
The introduction of different textures and sounds begins by providing "toys" with variations of sounds, touch and smells.
Between 4 and 5 weeks, the litter begins to spend some portion of each day outside. The litter exits from our kitchen down a ramp into our Puppy Paddock. Foreverlawn K9 Grass provides a safe and healthy foundation for their play. Future plans for the Paddock include automatic waterers, and a shower and bathing area for the litters (2019). Dams and Sire's watchover and play with the puppies in this area while through the fence, adorable puppy noses meet the noses of the remainder of our Aisling Pack.
As they grow and as weather permits, they are contained outside for longer periods of time; typically, Here they are exposed to the sounds of airplanes, 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.
Juvenile Period (70 days and older) - FOREVER HOMES!
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.
Many new owners are confused by just how they can socialize the puppy while keeping it healthy until vaccinations are completed. Parvo is the most serious disease from which your puppy needs to be protected but there are ways to socialize and still keep your puppy safe.
Once vacinnations are complete, continue to introduce your puppy to all sorts of people; people with beards, hats, wheelchairs, and uniforms and of different races. You can do this inviting friends over to your home or by visiting an outdoor mall that provides benches along the sidewalks. Simply sit with your puppy on your lap or close at your feet and ask that people speak to but not touch your puppy. Have hand sanitizor with you to offer to those who really, really want to touch him! (Most will respect your wishes if you just smile and say "we're not fully vaccinated but are working on socialization".
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.
Biting and Teething:
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!