The Golden Rule Way
There are multiple ways that we socialize our puppies.
- Starting when the pups are 3 days old, we go through a series of exercises each day that help stimulate the puppies. These exercises are called ENS or Early Neurological Stimulation and last until they are 16 days old. You can learn more about ENS here.
- Once the pups are a little older, we use a toothbrush to brush them. When they are 5 weeks, we use a regular dog brush so they can get used to grooming.
- The puppies are handled daily and we massage their paws, ears, tails, bellies, etc.
- The puppies are socialized with kids. We have two kids that play/interact with them every day and we have cousins that come over to help with socializing.
- We play different sounds in our whelping room. These sounds include buses, door bells, lawn mowers, trains, motorcycles, horns honking, people talking, sirens, different types of music, and more.
- As the puppies get older we bring them out into our living room daily so they can hear normal household environment sounds. While out there they experience our other dogs playing, people coming to our door, the kids running around, us cooking, the TV being on, etc. These may seem like small everyday things, but to a young puppy they can be very frightening.
- We take each puppy on several car rides to get them used to being in a car. We also go through drive-throughs and an automatic car wash. Weather permitting, we drive with the windows down occasionally so they can get used to the different sounds it makes and smells it may bring in.
- We take the puppies outside for a start at potty training and for them to play in the grass.
- We have each puppy get used to stairs before going home. It has been our experience that puppies are first scared of stairs and unsure what to do. We also have them experience different floor types, such as tile, carpet, linoleum, and concrete. We like to eliminate as many uncertainties as possible when puppies go to their new homes.
- Once the puppies are old enough, we introduce them to our other dogs (big and small). This helps socialize them with safe dogs and we even have them around our cat.
- We socialize the puppies to loud noises such as a blow dryer, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, and vacuum cleaner. We run the vacuum cleaner daily because 1) we have golden retrievers and we need to 2) it’s good for the puppies to get used to it. It is also a good idea for them to get used to thunder storms, fireworks, construction machinery, etc. while they are young. It is easier to comfort a 10 pound puppy than a 60 pound dog.
- We socialize the puppies to different people with different features (beard, hat, glasses, elderly, etc.).
- We lay our puppies on their backs daily. This is a very vulnerable position for them and it is important for them to develop trust with their caregivers.
- We socialize our puppies around water so they are comfortable with taking baths. This typically isn’t an issue for the golden retrievers, but we bring them into the bathroom while we shower. This helps them get used to the sound. Then, when they are 4.5 weeks they have their first real bath.
- Collars and leashes. We put breakaway collars on our puppies starting when they are very young. This helps us to tell them apart for eating, weighing, etc. A week before they go home, we put a tiny leash on each puppy so they can experience the feeling. At first, they walk around with the leash on and we leave it on while they have supervised play. Then, we hold the leash while it is attached to them and call them to follow us as we walk. The puppies love high, excited voices so they typically follow very easily using this method.
Please continue socializing your new puppy at home! The Pet Professional Guild provides a great socialization checklist here.
PLEASE be careful with a collar on your dog when you take him/her home, as I know of too many people who have lost a dog due to suffocation with a collar. The type of collars we use are breakaway and the puppies are supervised.