A big word that means different things to different people
Throughout our years of breeding, we have developed socialization protocol that we believe coincides with our household dynamics and better suits our individual puppies and bloodlines.
We prefer an integrative approach rather than a systematic, "by-the-book" approach. Because our puppies are raised inside our home, we are able to socialize them constantly throughout the day without creating staged opportunities.
Socialization means so many different things to different people. So, what is "socialization?"
Scroll down to learn more about socializtion
What is "Socialization?"
Dr. J. P. Scott began researching socialization in canines in the 1960's. He is still considered an authority in canine socialization research. Click here to read one of his most famous papers.
Scott mentions that "behavior must be developed, and developed under the combined influence of hereditary and various environmental factors."
We define "socialization" as the process of developing behavior in puppies.
Through the socialization process, good OR bad behavior can be developed! For example, people that raise puppies that will someday participate in dog fighting socialize their puppies in ways that encourage fear and aggression. People that raise puppies that might become police dogs socialize their puppies to be protective, bold, and to have bite skills. People that raise puppies that might become service dogs socialize their puppies very systematically and with intense positive reinforcement. So you can see that the process of socialization is very unique to each and every breeding program, and it is important to choose a program that socializes appropriately for your needs.
It is so important for a breeder to have proper knowledge on both the genetic history of her dogs, as well as appropriate socialization techniques. There are some things about different breeds/types of puppies that are genetic and will never change. However, it is up to the breeder to identify and understand these genetics and then place an appropriate socialization plan in place for her puppies so that her puppies can grow to become Good Canine Citizens.
What socialization is Not...
Socialization is NOT posting a few branded badges on your website and claiming to use a particular commercial curriculum (Puppy Culture, AviDog, etc.). Look for PROOF of a breeder using this curriculum. Proof would be weekly videos being posted of puppies immersed in this curriculum.
Socialization is NOT "raising puppies inside your home." What kind of home are the puppies being raised in? Are they being raised in a closed-off portion of the home where they receive little to no handling? Are they being exposed to kind and appropriate adults, children, and animals? Being raised "inside a home" means nothing without proof of how puppies are being raised. Remember, animal hoarders, abusers, and backyard breeders raise puppies inside their homes.
Socialization is NOT handling puppies daily, throwing some new toys in here and there, and letting them play with other dogs. Remember, every single experience a puppy has during it's critical first 8 weeks with a breeder shapes its behavior for the rest of its life. So, again, it is not enough to go through the motions. Socialization involves analyzing genetics and individual litter development and creating a constantly evolving and growing plan that will suit each individual litter, all the way down to each individual puppy.
Rebecca Creek Retrievers Socialization Protocol
First and foremost, Rebecca Creek Retrievers socializes puppies with affection, trust, and species appropriate expectations.
In other words, we love our dogs. And we treat them like dogs, not humans. Dogs have very different emotional and physical needs from humans. It is important for us to remember and embrace these differences between species, because not doing so will be detrimental to training and socializing.
We have pulled our socialization protocol from many different brand name programs, as well as research studies, old-timers methods, and of course simply from our own learning experiences.
The best way to follow our socialization protocol is to follow us on social media! We post regular photos and videos of our puppies going through their daily routines.
Scroll down to view some of the things that we do in our household, with our puppies, and with our dogs regularly that shape our socialization protocol.
Household Noises and Activity
Our puppies are raised inside our typical American household. We watch TV, listen to music, cook meals, vacuum and clean, have barking dogs, a sweet kitty cat, laugh, yell, cry, and dance! Our puppies are a central part of our household and experience all of the "normal" sounds, sights, and smells that come with it.
Controlled Human Interaction
Meeting new people is very important for puppy socialization, however, we are very careful when it comes to introducing new people to our puppies. We have family members and close friends that come to our home for these carefully calculated interactions. We do not allow strangers or puppy families to visit our home.
Appropriate Animal Interactions
We have a sweet kitty cat that behaves very appropriately around our puppies. She will allow puppies to get close to her, but insists on them respecting her space. She is gentle but firm with the puppies. Our adult dogs are allowed to interact with the puppies during highly controlled sessions. These positive interactions teach puppies how to behave around new dogs.
Farm Sights and Sounds
We live on acreage and have a micro farm. Our puppies love watching our free-range chickens strut around right outside their play yards. The puppies hear and see various different species of animals, as well as listen to lawn mowers, large equipment, and even JR's welder!
We have drawn socialization techniques and protocol from many different curriculums, but our favorite is AviDog's Savvy Socialization series. This science and experience based curriculum suits our program very well, and has equipped us with the knowledge that we need in order to be confident in our carefully developed protocol.
We mention "daily routines" here a lot. That is because we think that they are SO important! We set our daily routines based on each litter's developmental stage. Our daily routines evolve and change constantly based on each litter's individual needs. Our family members participate and adhere to these routines so that we can maintain consistency in all we do.