Socialization

Our socialization program begins with the gentle handling featured in Early Neurological Stimulation and continues with a purposefully enriched environment. As the puppy's eyes and ears open and its other senses rapidly develop, our focus shifts to provide the kind of stimulating, yet secure, environment full of colorful, interesting sensory experience that will encourage the pup to explore confidently the new world it inhabits. 

  • Sound.  We talk to the puppies in an upbeat tone, introducing soothing and encouraging words like "Good Puppy," that will later become part of the pup's repertoire of cues for praise. We use the puppy's name, together with giving positive attention -- at first, the pup's name is based on its assigned collar color ("Mr. Blue," or "Ms. Dot," for example), but once the selection process is completed, we substitute the name you choose for your Golden. We introduce music especially composed to appeal to and calm dogs. We also expose pups to everyday sounds such as car engines, vacuum cleaners, thunderstorms, fireworks and crowd noises, crying babies, traffic noises, sirens, among others. Introduced at low volume and interspersed with calming music or soothing activities, these are sounds that the pup is likely to encounter later in life but that are known to induce fear in many dogs that have not been properly introduced to them.

  • Scents. We begin by imprinting our own scent, breathing or blowing gently in the puppies' faces and encouraging them to sniff and explore. As the pup matures, it is exposed to the scents of foods, other animals and the R Ranch orchards. Scent is also used in "hide-and-seek" type games, as an early form of nose work.

  • Texture. We gradually expose our pups to as many different textures and surfaces as possible. Even while the litter is in the whelping box, we expose the puppy to the different textures of towels, blankets, carpet, wood, tile and our own clothing. As the pup's motor skills develop and it is ready to leave the whelping area, it gets the chance to explore specially sanitized areas of grass, dirt, gravel, concrete, linoleum; rubber and and metal-covered surfaces.

  • Agility. Older pups get the chance to try out our puppy agility course, a great opportunity for fun, as well as to develop their motor skills and instill a sense of self-confidence.

  • Puppy Pool. Once old enough, pups also get the chance to wade or swim in our pint-sized puppy swimming pool. Have you ever met a Golden Retriever who didn't like to swim? Odds are, that puppy never got the chance to test the waters while still with its mother.

  • Other Animals. Also an element of our early socialization program, R Ranch puppies are exposed from an early age to other select and fully vaccinated animals. Unlike puppies who spend their nursery and toddler months confined to a kennel until shipped off to a new owner or store, at R Ranch, puppies are raised beside both their dam and their sire, as well as our Basset Hound Abby, who sits in as a nanny when the "moms" need a break from the litter. They are also introduced to Alvin our male Basset; along with our other fur babies of various ages.  They also get to meet the chickens that provide the eggs with which we supplement their meals.

  • Grooming. From their third day of life, our pups have been accustomed to gentle handling of all of their body parts. By their third week, pups are ready to begin weekly nail clippings, and once weaned, their teeth are brushed regularly and ear cleaning becomes part of the routine. The puppy pool helps teach the pups that bath time is not a bad time. All these experiences help prepare the pup not only for the groomer, but also for being handled by the veterinarian.

  • Children. Goldens don't need too much training in this department, but the grand kids and their friends are enlisted to ensure the puppies have ample exposure to children of all ages, so they learn not to fear the sudden and erratic noises and movements children often make and not to jump on or overpower the little ones.

  • Strangers. Though socialization to strangers is somewhat limited until the puppies are fully vaccinated, we do our best while they are here at the ranch to introduce the pups to as many different kinds of people as safely possible -- men, women, children, elders, people of multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds, people wearing hats, uniforms or costumes, people using canes, walkers or wheelchairs, and so on. We trust you to continue to teach our puppies in your home what a diverse and wonderful world they inhabit.