Even though Henley can't go into the post office with me, he can come with me to mail items using the outdoor drop box there. He can go with me to the bank where I can have him practice sitting and waiting patiently while I make deposits at the ATM. I love taking him out with me for coffee or lunch as he's learning to sit or lay on his mat at my feet and quietly people watch. He's even been to the local farmer's market where he people watched from the safety of a bag over my shoulder. Next week, he'll be going with me to the car wash as I want him exposed to the noises and all of the cars going in and out. We've sat on a bench and watched the kids at the park, as well as the seniors with their canes, wheelchairs, and walkers who visit the park from a nearby assisted living facility. Henley is an avid people watcher and gets very excited if he can wiggle and bounce enough to get someone's attention. He's been approached by children, strollers, people in hats and sunglasses, people with medical equipment, bicycles, scooters, etc. So far, so good. I make sure he sits or stands politely for petting and reward him verbally and with a small treat for getting it right.
While it might seem like pet stores would be the perfect place to socialize a puppy, do be cautious. It's fine to do so if you take precautions such as bringing your pup inside in a stroller, bag, or a shopping cart you've laid a mat or towel in for safe exploring up off of the floor. Remember, however, that not every dog visiting that pet store with their owner may be fully vaccinated or behaviorally appropriate with your puppy, so keep your puppy's interactions limited to the people in the store. Do walk your puppy past the birds, pocket pets, etc. so that she can see those other animals without getting over-excited. Again, since I want Henley to do pet assisted therapy, I want to make sure he sees cats, birds, and guinea pigs as friends not food!
So where won't I be taking Henley? He won't be going to any festivals or large gatherings where folks might be setting off fireworks. I want his first experience hearing fireworks to be at home where he'll feel the safest. Plus, neither Desi nor Ozzie care about fireworks, so seeing them calmly hanging out while there are loud sounds in the distance, is something I'd like Henley to experience on his first 4th of July. We live near the fairgrounds, so fireworks have already been going off nightly as part of the festivities there leading up to the 4th of July. None of the dogs, Henley included, have paid them any attention, which is great. I hope it stays that way! And his first trip to the beach will have to wait until he's fully vaccinated, but I'm looking forward to that as the other collies here love the beach!
Finally, I've had a couple of people ask me if Henley will be attending puppy classes. The answer is yes, as soon as his veterinarian gives him the okay to go. I'll be teaching a round of puppy classes this summer and I plan to have Henley attend those, handled by my daughter since I'll be the instructor. While he will already have learned all of the behaviors I cover in my classes, Henley will be attending for the social opportunities with other puppies his age AND for the chance to work with lots of distractions around. So, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and you have a puppy who needs puppy classes this summer, let me know! Your puppy and Henley could be new best friends!
As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.
Henley has learned so much from the older collies here at my house, and no one has been more influential in his understanding of boundaries and respect than my daughter's young adult smooth collie, Westley. Ozzie and Desi would not want to be doing this puppy thing without his help!