We are through our first week with Drifter. Although he could not have his first vaccination until today we have already started his socialisation and introducing him to new situations, objects, and events. We have done this by carrying him around with us but staying away from areas that are frequented by dogs such as parks and the beaches. We have developed a structure to his daily activities so there is a degree of consistency to his life. This allows him to predict daily events and helps reduce any anxiety he may experience to new and novel events at home in the future.
He has found a preferred area to toilet in the garden so we carry him to this area and praise him when he goes, then we go into play mode. He is exploring outside using all his senses. He explores taste and textures by picking up moss, leafs, twigs, and grass. We supervise what he picks up and give him time to evaluate their taste and texture. After a moment or two he generally discards them and goes searching for more interesting items. He rarely attempts to swallow these items as it is all part of learning about his environment. On the odd occasions he appears to prepare to ingest an item we approach with a treat, hold it by his nose and he tends to drop it and take the treat. If he begins to associate us approaching with taking away the object it will only add value to the object. This creates the risk that he will run away ingesting it as he goes. Offering him a treat starts to build a more positive association with our approach which will aid future training in many contexts.
Socialisation is the most important part of any puppies development. We have found Drifter is already responding to signals from other dogs and animals. He tends to ignore the cat but on the couple of occasions he has approached the cat in his collie stance the cat has signalled to him this is not a good idea and he has taken two paws back and wandered off in another direction. He follows our old collie around but Henry only has to give him the look when he has had enough and Drifter drifts off in another direction.
I discussed with our vet today Drifters current vaccination status and the best way in the coming weeks to further his socialise. Our vet has a very good understanding of the importance of socialisation and has agreed there is minimal risk to increased levels of exposure to healthy vaccinated dogs with good social skills. In the coming weeks we will be visiting friends with dogs that can meet this criteria.
Our first week with Drifter has more than met all our expectations. He has now settled at night and travels well in his crate in the car. He is a confident puppy that loves the attention of humans and enjoys learning.