This blog is Part 4 in the series that I am writing about my experience fostering a Momma and her littler of 7. I’ve written previously about building my relationship with Momma in Welcome Home! and Momma, My BFF, and about the puppies in their first few weeks in Puppies! Now that the puppies have entered the socialization period, I began to introduce the puppies to the big world.
The puppies were a tremendous amount of fun. Because I wanted to set these puppies set up for the maximum success in life, I introduced them to as much of the world as I could. This socialization period is a critical part of puppy development. Introducing puppies to different experiences during this time period will help them grow up to be less fearful of new experiences, approach life with more confidence, and in general, be more well-adjusted to society.
My husband and I had already been handling the puppies pretty regularly. Additionally, because I am fortunate enough to live very close to work, I started dragging co-workers home on lunch break to handle the puppies too. I also asked neighbors (especially those with children) to come over and be with the puppies.
I introduced them to many different noises. I consistently kept the TV on in their room and changed it to different channels. One day they’d listen to calming music, but in the evening, I would switch it to the Home Shopping Network just to get different noises.
Most of all, I went about my daily life. Because I lead a pretty normal life, the puppies were automatically introduced to activities that they could be fearful of later in their lives. I vacuumed so I could clean my carpet and expose the puppies to the noise. I let them walk around on the bed because I laid down at night and invited them with me– and it was a good thing to expose them to the softer mattress (which clearly made them less stable on their feet).
I regularly touched their ears, feet, and tail, and opened up their mouth to look at their teeth. Handling them in this manner will give them more confidence to approach
veterinary situations. I even (very carefully!) clipped their toenails with a clipper to hopefully get them used to that dreaded part of grooming.
The puppies were also starting to explore the world on their own. They were beginning to play with each other and push each other around a little bit. This was all basic puppy behavior and an integral part of their development (taking puppies away from their littermates too early can have tremendously detrimental effects!). They were starting to bark a little bit louder to talk to each other and to say hello to me.
They started to develop more personality. There were clearly puppies that were shyer, while others seemed to be more dominant. There were some that were playful, and others that preferred a longer nap. Some enjoyed being around toys, others didn’t seem to care. They were starting to become unique individuals.
Now that Momma was getting more comfortable in our home, she also was getting less and less interested in feeding the puppies. We started to feed the puppies soft food, and they gobbled it down very quickly. And of course, instead of eating it neatly on the plate, they insisted on being IN the food, smearing it all over!
In the next few weeks, I will be bringing the puppies into work for a few informal puppy classes. I’ll be requesting the presence of people, kids, cats, hats, umbrellas, vacuums, men with mustaches/beards, and much more. We’ll be riding elevators, taking trips in the car, and putting on a collar. All of this is specifically designed to get these puppies used to these very basic things they will experience often in their lives. Tune in next week to see how it all goes!