One of the greatest things I love about Chesapeake’s is their loyalty to their owner. With this loyalty comes a great responsibility to the owner.
When I am talking with people who express an interest in this breed the first couple of things I usually say are…
This is not a breed for everyone.
Chessie’s have a lot of great qualities but they are not typically a good breed for first time dog owners.
This loyalty includes a protective nature that is natural to the breed. It is one of the true characteristics that remain from the origination of the Chesapeake. Breeders have worked hard over the years to create a pleasing temperament in the breed while maintaining a protective nature. So socialization for Chesapeake’s is a must.
Quoted from the breed standard:
The Chesapeake is valued for its bright and happy disposition, intelligence, quiet good sense, and affectionate protective nature. Extreme shyness or extreme aggressive tendencies are not desirable in the breed as a gun dog or companion.
Two things can happen when Chessie’s are not properly socialized they can become over protective to the point of aggressiveness or extremely shy; and these are not behaviors you want. For now I am just going to talk about the protective side.
Once the pups were about 4 weeks old I started having people come over to help with further socialization. I took them outside to explore new sights, sounds and smells. I also invited adults of all ages, children and teens so the pups could be exposed to more than just me and my family. Due to the young age precautions were taken to prevent exposure to diseases.
I stress the importance of socialization to new puppy people. It is much easier to do this from the time they are young than try to go back and fix it once they are older and develop an over protective nature. And in all honesty sometimes it can’t be fixed which is really a great disservice to the dog and can be a danger to people.
Socializing isn’t just limited to exposing your pup to new people but to different sights, sounds, environments and other animals. Beginner obedience classes are a great way of socializing while training those basic commands. Puppy play dates, going to the pet store or any business that allows dogs as well as walks through your neighborhood are all great ways of socializing. I carry treats with me every where when they are young to reinforce good behavior as well as verbal praise.
The key is to expose your puppy to new and exciting experiences everyday so they grow into a well rounded confident dog.
So how do you socialize your dog?