Saturday morning I took Byron to a quilt show. You can see my blog post over at my quilting blog complete with slideshow.
I couldn't walk two feet without being stopped and someone asking about Byron wanting to pet him and find out what breed he was. He must have been touched by at least 40 people, including a few children, several wearing hats and coats, wearing plastic gloves to touch the quilts with, pushing strollers, carrying bags, using cameras, wearing glasses, all shapes, colors and sizes too. It was the best socialization experience I've ever done with a puppy. The atmosphere is ideal given that there are large quilts hanging and blowing in the breeze, lots of noise, plenty of grass and leaves to play in and quiet areas in case the puppy gets overwhelmed. The two hours we were there he had the best time and got totally exhausted. I was pretty tired too by the end of it since I had to carry him most of the way (he isn't walking on a leash quite yet, sometimes he'll run a few steps and stop but he's only three months old).
Both my other two dogs were well socialized but I felt it especially important to do more with this puppy than I had with the last. Socialization is critical to a puppys development. There have been some estimates that a puppy should meet at least 300 new people before they are 14 weeks of age to be considered well socialized. Because of this, choosing a good breeder is vital to ensure your puppy will have a confident temperament as it gets older. A breeder needs to expose the puppy to many different types of people while it is growing before it even comes home with its new owner.
Even though I work full-time during the week I still do my best to expose Byron to new things each day, plan trips on the weekend where he can go out and get further exposure, and make future goals when he's fully vaccinated and can socialize with all other types of dogs. I'm not big on dog parks as a place to socialize dogs on the whole, I think it is a bad idea in my area in particular. I've seen a number of dogs get attacked or bullied and it only takes one bad experience to ruin a puppy forever. Each exposure should be planned carefully with safety in mind. I only use certain doggie daycares that have passed a set of criteria. When I go to a dog park if I notice that one dog is bullying the others and the owner isn't doing anything about it I'll take my dog and leave. If I see an owner doing something irresponsible at a dog park (leaving a prong collar or choke chain on their dog while it plays) I'll leave as well. Some dog parks are better than others as far as the owners go.
I've had my fair share of run ins with owners at parks too. One in particular was at a local dog beach. An owner watched as its dog pooped all runny onto the ground and started to walk away until I called over to him and asked if he needed a bag to pick up his dogs poop. He looked flustered and I handed him the bag. Then he became belligerent and said he wasn't going to pick up the poop anyway and just kicked some sand over it muttering that I wasted a bag by handing it to him. His girlfriend walked far away after I confronted him. He did this in front of a group of people and just left his dogs poop there, the dog was obviously sick with something. That just makes me mad when people don't pick up after their own dogs.
Anyway - Byron is well on his way to becoming a well socialized dog. He handled the Quilt Show experience quite well. He was only concerned in the beginning (trembled a bit in my arms) but quickly warmed up and was wagging his tail happily meeting new people and dogs. He gets his second set of boosters this week and then I plan to take him to a local doggie daycare for some playtime. His puppy class starts Nov. 17th.
Some observations: he likes to drag toys around the house and outside. You will often see him backing up pulling a toy somewhere he thinks it should be. He is quite fearless and leaps around on the furniture without a thought about falling. He loves to sleep on beds and platforms (in particular, he has taken a liking to the bathroom scale - he likes to curl up on it since it is up off the floor). He does like his crate which is good to see, he will often climb inside as we are heading to bed and wait for me to drop his treats in and close the door. Basil gets drooly mouthed watching his brother get into his crate (gotta love classical conditioning). I end up having to give Basil a few treats.
Bernie is doing better with Byron. She has been doing well tolerating his antics and love of her so far. She will sometimes take toys away from him but he has the perfect personality and lets her do it without a fuss. I do have to watch myself because if I ever say "eh eh" to him she enforces it with a loud bark and sometimes a nudge on the neck. She knows when another dog is doing something he shouldn't be doing (or she just loves to play corgi police, I'm not sure).
Life is good! Can't wait to take him to the agility trial next month and let him have fun hanging out with Basil and I.
In case you missed the video on Facebook: