We started another Puppy Socialization class at The Dog Den this evening. Luckily they received a last minute cancellation and could get us in. Socialization during the first few months is such a critical part of any puppy's life, but even more important for a service dog to be dog-friendly and adaptable to all breeds. With this end in mind, we take full advantage of the puppy playgroups and training opportunities. Over the last four years we have spent so much time there that they feel like family which is not surprising because they treat all their customers, human and canine, like family.
Having raised at least five "service puppies" through this early stage, one would think that we would know everything by now. However, it has been eighteen months since we have had such a young dog in the house. The advice we receive from The Dog Den trainers is a great reminder/refresher and we always learn at least one new thing every class. After "loading the clicker" or establishing the "marker word", tonight's lesson focused on SIT, GO PLAY, and WATCH. Cooper will enjoy the homework - more treats to reinforce the marker.
The puppies at class were eerily mellow. The most docile pack of ten puppies that I have ever seen. After a short playtime, one of the people seated next to us asked if we drugged Cooper because he was so lethargic. He rarely appears to be enjoying himself and he has sad eyes. We have the darnedest time trying to get a "happy" photo.
This will determine which is stronger Nature or Nurture (us).