Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Socialization - Day One

One reason I was so bananas to get a puppy from Joanna is that she is as nuts about socialization as I am. The puppies got a terrific start at her house, with the kids, other dogs, lots of visitors, etc., and now it's my job to build on that foundation.

Sunday I deliberately kept Magnum home all day to get used to his new home and settle in a little. He had a couple of visitors: first his new Grammy, and later our friends Mike and Ashley. I learned a valuable lesson from the latter visitors.

Ian came to me at about 16 months of age after he had been returned to Karen by his original purchaser. Without naming names, and from what I can gather second and third hand, Ian spent the better part of his first year crated. The person who picked him up from there to take him back to Karen found him in a size 200 crate. She was told that he barked all the time, and that he "was fine" for up to 12 hours a day in his crate.

When this person took him to the car to take him away from there, he never even looked back. He just settled into the car in his (bigger, more appropriately sized) crate, sighed, and gave a non-verbal "thank God." Ian stayed for a few weeks with this person until transportation could be arranged to take him back to Karen, and indeed almost ended up staying there permanently, being such a sweet boy. But the timing was off, so he did finally make his way back to Virginia and to Karen.

Shortly after Ian arrived here with me, Mike and Ashley came over to meet him. For whatever reason, he has never warmed up to them. Part of the reason with Mike may be that he always wears a baseball cap. Ian FREAKS OUT if Mike even touches his hat, or if Ashley does anything with her hair (she has really long, curly hair). I truly believe that at some point in Ian's first year, someone whipped a hat off of his/her head and hit him with it.

So when Mike and Ashley showed up, Ian ran around and barked and in general acted like Mr. Crazypants. Elli, on the other hand, did her joyful "Yay!! Uncle Mike!!" dance. Magnum was very confused: were these axe murderers who needed to be warned off, or were they friends? Which of the older pack members was he supposed to follow?

Lesson One: When new people come over to meet Magnum, have Ian secured in the bedroom or outside in the backyard while they come in. I would rather have him pick up on Elli's over-exuberance than Ian's paranoia.

Yesterday, we left house a couple of times. First Magnum had a well-check at the vet's, which ended up just being a visit with the techs since the vet had an emergency and never got to see him. He will go back for his second innoculation in about three weeks. He got treats and pets and was so stressed out about the whole thing that he actually fell asleep on the table, head on my hand. :-)

After that, I had to pick up a couple of things at the grocery store, so my friend Donna, who works there, came out to the car to meet him. He got more pets and some string cheese and thought life was good.

Next stop was to my mom's friend Maxine's house. Maxine had multiple High in Trials, UDs, TDXs on her Goldens back in the day, and she just plain loves dogs. She was delighted to meet Magnum. He happily took cheese and cuddles from her, but didn't stray too far from me. He played with a toy and then was overcome by a nap attack, so we came home.

Some lunch and a rejuvenating sleep later, I did something STUPID: I decided to take all three for a trip to the boardwalk.

I knew better. I really did. But I was feeling all this Mom-guilt for taking the baby and leaving the big kids at home, so I opted to take everyone. And it was an Unmitigated. Disaster. Elli and Ian decided that it was a race and they just HAD TO pull on their leashes. Magnum did a great job walking on lead, but he wanted to stay with the pack so he was in amongst the other two, tangling leashes and getting underfoot.

When we stopped for a break and had people approach, Ian woofed at them, so Magnum scooted behind my legs, figuring that if the big dog was issuing a warning, these people must be somehow scary. I asked them to stop and offer him some treats, and he happily came out and took them. The next obstacle were people walking other dogs -- because Ian barked and in general acted like a jackass, Magnum figured he better bark too. We did lots of focus-and-treat work to get past that. Still, not exactly what I wanted.

Lesson Two: take the baby by himself. EVERYTIME. For the next several weeks.

Also? Alcohol is my friend.

1 comment:

  1. What a horrible start poor Ian had! Can you imagine a smart and active Cardigan being caged for most of his first year? What were those people thinking?! Thank goodness he made his way back to his breeder.

    I think you gave Magnum more socializing in the last couple of days than I gave Jimmy in his first week or more. I bet he slept like a log!