We only got about halfway through learning all about socialization last week, so here we are again! Last week we went over a few different categories; People & Dogs, Surfaces, Handling, and Other Animals. It was a lot! So what is possibly left? Today we will go over the remaining categories:
Objects with wheels
So let’s jump right in!
Man this sounds arbitrary. How do you make sure your puppy hears certain sounds? And what sounds!? It’s much easier than it sounds. You want to be thinking about the types of noises that they will hear regularly. Garbage trucks, construction noises, thunder, fireworks, babies crying, children screaming, traffic, the vacuum, etc. A lot of them will seem very much like background noise to us and may not jump to our attention as something that can be scary, but sound sensitivity can be a very real thing for our dogs.
One of the obvious ways to work on noises is to get our puppies out and about around the sounds. Hang out at a distance from a construction site, near a playground in a park, near a dog park where they will hear dogs barking, run the vacuum cleaner and sprinkle treats around for your puppy. Make sure that no matter what you are keeping the experience low key and positive for your puppy.
Certain other sounds can be difficult to predict, or dangerous to be too close to. For these sounds, recordings are a great way to introduce your puppy to them. Play a video of a thunderstorm or fireworks show at a low volume while they enjoy their dinner or a yummy chew. Play baby noises randomly. Knock on a wall or play a doorbell noise at a random time and follow it up with cookies and nothing happening.
Objects & Objects with Wheels
You might be sitting there asking how we can possibly break objects down into two categories and really wheels are the main thing. There are a lot of things with wheels that move and interact with the world in different ways, and there are a lot of different objects so it makes it more digestible for us to break it down into two distinct categories.
When we are talking about objects we are talking about things like brooms, umbrellas, plastic bags being shaken out or blowing in the wind, blankets being shaken, garbage cans, sidewalk signs, statues, fire hydrants, ex pens, and any other variety of thing you can think of that isn’t a naturally occurring item in the world. When we are getting our puppies around objects we need to make sure to go at their pace. If they walk right up to it and investigate the object without hesitation, great! Drop a few treats and move on with your day. However, if they hit the brakes and refuse to go near the item it is important not to force it. It is tempting to just pick our puppy up and show them that the thing isn’t scary, but taking away their autonomy in that moment can actually make the object more scary.
Instead, I tend to sit down near the object (or as near it as I can based on where they’ve hit the brakes) and sprinkle some treats around. I’ll talk to my puppy and give them pets if they are seeking them and we will just hang out near the item for a bit. When they are comfortable, we will move on and next time we come across that object we will try to move closer. All at their pace.
Objects on Wheels are a little different because generally speaking we don’t really want our puppies going up to everything that has wheels, so we tend to approach them a little differently. Our objects on wheels include things like cars, bikes, motorcycles, buses, scooters, skateboards, strollers, wheelchairs, shopping carts, and similar. If the wheeled object is stationary and off, in the case of cars, we can let our puppy explore near it just like a regular object. It is also important with our wheeled objects to have our puppies practice observing them at a distance while they move though and remaining calm. It can be very tempting to chase things on wheels, and it is very helpful to work through that impulse early on!
This is another category that is such a background part of life for us that we often don’t think about it. But the reality is your neighborhood is a very different environment than the city or a wooded trail. And it is important that we make sure our puppies are comfortable in lots of different environments. The good news is that this is an easy one to work on! All you have to do is go to the places and have fun. Walk around the neighborhood, find a busy city area and hang out, go to a park and wander around and hang out, go for a hike on a trail, go have a fun visit in the vet waiting room (trust me your vet will love it), explore some creeks and lakes. Basically just get out in the world with your puppy!
Now I know, this is technically part of the ‘Objects with Wheels’ category so how can it also be it’s own category as well? When we’re talking about cars as their own category we’re more talking about the inside of the car and being comfortable being driven around. Can you easily lift them in the car or will they hop in on their own, will they go into their car crate (if you’re using one) or are they comfortable in their seatbelt harness, how do they react when you turn the engine on, and things like that.
Socialization really is a big wide thing that includes so many different things. It can be really overwhelming! It’s hard not to stress out about it in general, there’s so much pressure to get our puppies socialization exactly right and then on top of it so many different things to think about. But we’re here to help! As well as these two blog posts to help guide you through, we have a Socialization Checklist! The checklist lists out the categories and the common items within each category, although there is always more to add! There is a spot for you to keep track of your puppy’s response to each item using a rating system, and a few spots for each item so that you can keep track of progress or just how many times your puppy gets exposure to that thing. Just one time isn’t enough! You can snag the checklist here, or on our Recommendations & Resources page under Downloadable Handouts.
Remember to keep it fun with your puppy and go at their pace. And if you are feeling overwhelmed and need some help, reach out! We have a lot of options to help you with your puppy and we always love getting puppy time!