Socializing A Young Puppy For Service Work – My First Tip

BettyLou
Betty Lou an 8 week old Labradoodle puppy is still available for placement as a service dog candidate.

Mason from Bloomington Normal Illinois has our question of the week. Mason has just received his new puppy and knows that if he is going to train it for service work he needs to socialize it to as many people places and things as possible. But Mason is having trouble managing his puppy in environments where he needs to socialize it. He wants to know if we have any tips or tricks to help him with socialization.

I’m glad you asked this question because I just sent several labradoodle puppies out of my first litter ever, all over the country to be trained as medical alert dogs for conditions like POTS and diabetes. There are actually two puppies left from this imprinted litter who might make it as service dogs with the right training. If you are interested in one of these puppies please contact me at 206-355-9033.

Homer
Homer an 8 week old Labradoodle puppy is still available for placement as a service dog candidate.

All right Mason let’s cut out the BS and get down to the nitty-gritty solution to this question. The reason why you’re having problems socializing your dog is that you are probably not an expert dog trainer. I didn’t say that to offend you it’s just that trying to learn to train a dog and accomplish the things you need to do in the real world is incredibly difficult for an expert dog trainer but almost impossible for a new handler.

Let me put this more simply. Have you ever tried to practice a taekwondo move sequence at the same time you are shopping at the grocery store? Or have you ever tried to practice your latest ballroom dance dance while navigating the crowd at the local fair? My guess would be probably not. It makes no sense to try to learn something while your brain is busy focusing on accomplishing another task. Multitasking barely works for experienced dog trainers and in reality doesn’t work very well for newbies like yourself.

So what’s a new puppy raiser to do? Give yourself a break. You are new at this. You cannot focus on the comfort level of your dog and the task you were trying to perform in the real world. Dragging a nine week old puppy into a grocery store while grocery shopping without taking into consideration how that puppy is feeling during every moment of her time in that grocery store can easily overwhelm a young dog resulting in lasting fear of grocery stores. In the dog world we don’t call that training we call that flooding and flooding has serious life long consequences.

LiameAnxiety
Liame displaying anxiety at one of his socialization opportunities.

So my recommendation is in the first several months of your puppies life, get accomplished what you need to accomplish without your puppy. Then, come back to the location you need to socialize and train in and just focus singularly on the the act of socialization and training with your dog. This is not something that you’re going to need to do for the rest your life it’s just in those first few critical weeks and months that you will need to focus on making sure your dog has the most positive experience possible during all of its socialization exposures.

Stop trying to multitask the training of the dog who is learning how to save your life. You owe both you and your puppy your full attention during these first few critical weeks and months of your dogs life. Don’t mess this up. Carve out the time to focus on just being with your dog and you will most certainly reap the rewards later in life.

So what do you think my answer? Do you think you can multitask puppy training for a young puppy? If so, please leave a comment below.

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3 Comments
  1. This makes total sense. While training our young puppy, I am trying to take her daily to new places and to meet new people. Each time, I am trying to decide if this environment or what we will be doing will provide a positive experience. If my focus cannot be 100% on training her, I will usually not take her. For example, I would not yet try to take her to the grocery with me as grocery shopping (for me) takes some focus away from anything else. When my son wants to go to the gym, I take her and sit in the front, meeting new people and telling them about T1D and the dog. If I go to the gym, she stays home with my son or husband. One time, I decided to take her to Walmart to buy one item in electronics during a very low traffic time. She peed on the floor because I wasn’t paying enough attention (she’s still very young) and missed the cue. So, yeah, you are right.

  2. I”m Diabetic and I have a G.S. that is almost 14 Mo. old. Is she too old to train to be a Hypoglycemia Alert Dog?

  3. Good advice and don´t forget, it takes time and effort to train a dog, but it´s worth of it!

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