Early socialization starts with Mama! The first 8-12 weeks are pivotal in your GMD's development.
The Bernese mountain dog is known for its sociability and enjoys being around people. The poodle can be anxious when left to itself for long periods of time. A cross breed including both of these will need to spend a certain amount of time with their “people” and will also benefit from time spent with other dogs.
Early socialization (during the first 8 weeks of life) is vital to the development of your Golden Mountain Doodle. Ideally, puppies should spend this time with their Mamas and with their litter mates, learning through play and social interaction and receiving behavioral corrections and life lessons from Mama.[i]
If your puppy is raised in a home, or in a kennel environment with lots of hands-on interaction with people, they will be able learn early on to respond to people without fear. They should be introduced to different activities, sounds, people, and play opportunities, so that they will learn to approach new situations with confidence. Your puppy’s early environment will have far-reaching effects, so if you are in the process of choosing a puppy, proper socialization should be high on your list of priorities.
Once your puppy leaves its Mama and litter mates, socialization becomes your responsibility as a dog owner and continues to be important. While you need to be careful about certain exposures during your puppy’s early weeks at home, as they will not have completed their full set of recommended vaccinations, it is likely not practical (or healthy) to keep them exclusively at home during this period.
While you may not want to go out to a dog park with relatively unsupervised interactions and possible health risks, “puppy play dates” can be beneficial. Your dog will also enjoy spending quality time with you: playing, exercising, and receiving affection.[ii]
A certain level of interaction with other people and dogs can be helpful in the training process. A dog that is well-behaved dog at home may find it difficult to generalize those behaviors in other settings and will often not listen when distracted by new sights and sounds. Therefore, a dog owner should look at new social situations as opportunities to slowly but surely train their dog to be increasingly obedient and responsive, while at the same time appreciating the play and interaction that being out-and-about offers to a social dog.[iii]
Of all the factors that contribute to a happy, healthy dog, proper socialization is probably one of the most important. Be sure that your puppy is able to regularly interact with you and your family, visitors to your home, and others outside. At the same time, exercise wisdom when it comes to behavioral and health risks to your dog.
With positive experience during the first eight weeks, a puppy can be well-socialized in the context of family or with other pets, but a dog that spends a significant amount of time alone or needs exercise or mental stimulation can benefit from more “planned” events and opportunities to socialize.