About Newf Friends

Newf Friends Newfoundland Dog Rescue is a volunteer run, foster home based rescue group for Newfoundland Dogs in need in Ontario, Canada.
We place Newfs into carefully screened homes in Ontario and surrounding provinces and states.
Established in 2008.

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Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for general information about our program and our adoption policies and procedures.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Puppy Socialization -- the Breeder's Role

Socialization, an important part of choosing a breeder and raising a puppy.

Mom and pups at
Nautica Newfs in AB

Last month we wrote a blog about the serious temperament issues we are seeing more and more in Newfs, and the need to select breeders who breed for the correct temperament. If you missed the article you can read it here

Socialization is another key piece of the puzzle when it comes to choosing your breeder and raising your puppy.

Puppy Socialization Starts with the Breeder

Puppies learn from their environments and experiences. It is a breeder’s responsibility to ensure that puppies are exposed to as many different sights, sounds, textures, smells, animals, and people as possible in the first 10-12 weeks of their lives. Exposure should always be carefully controlled to ensure that the experiences are positive and are not placing the puppies at risk.

The best and easiest way for puppies to be exposed to normal sounds of home life is for them to be whelped and raised in a home environment. Ideally, their whelping box and puppy “room” will be in a central location of the home so that the puppies get to experience regular home life while in a safe environment. They get used to the sounds of vacuum cleaners, other animals, people talking, tvs, radios, cooking and smells. They also get exposed to the silence that regularly occurs in a home at night while the family and other pets are sleeping. Puppies should remain inside the breeder’s home until they are picked up by their families. Puppies who are whelped outdoors or moved outdoors before going home with their new families will not receive the necessary socialization. Breeders who do not keep the puppies in their homes should be avoided.

An indoor whelping/puppy play area at Jalynn Kennels in Ontario

Above and below are photos of puppy whelping areas, and early-days play areas from Arcadia Newfoundlands, Cape Nauti Newfoundlands, Heirloom Newfoundlands, Jalynn Kennels, Newf Friends Rescue, Recurve Kennels, Sea Fever Newfoundlands, Sea Worthy Newfoundlands, and Voyager Newfoundlands.  Click the images to see in larger size.

Once the puppies are old enough they should be allowed supervised time out of their puppy room to explore the house. The breeder’s home should be a safe environment with no obvious dangers. If you wouldn’t let your toddler crawl around their home then you definitely should think twice about buying a puppy from them. Objects of all shapes, sizes and sounds should be included in the puppy room and around the house to allow for the pups to learn. Some breeders also create their own “adventure boxes” which includes multiple items that offer different sounds, shapes, textures, and colours to provide a great tactile experience. 

Shown in this video are puppies at Even Keel Newfoundlands in Colorado playing in their adventure box.

Pups explore a vacuum at Even Keel
Newfoundlands in Colorado

Spending time outdoors is also very important so that the puppies learn about the sights, sounds, and smells that exist outside. They should be encouraged to go to the bathroom, play, run around and explore safe areas of the yard. If the weather is nice outside then a baby pool with water in it can be used to expose the puppies to playing in the water.  Puppies should always be supervised while outside and should never be left alone for long periods. Puppies should also not be left to sleep outside overnight, regardless of their age or time of year.

It's never too early to start water training at
Even Keel Newfoundlands in Colorado

Pups going for their first canoe ride at
Heartsease Newfoundlands in BC

Early water training at Jalynn Kennels in Ontario

This great article talks about the different types of socialization that help puppies grow into well-rounded adults https://www.puppyculture.com/the-enrichment-effect.html

Puppy playtime in the yard at Ashmoor Newfoundlands in Ontario

Outside playtime with mom at Nautica Newfoundlands in Alberta

Other animals in the home should also get to spend time with the puppies. Exposure to other dogs, cats, rabbits, or birds goes a long way to teaching the puppy how to act appropriately and be ok around animals of different sizes and types. If the breeder does not have multiple types of animals that is ok, their families can do this socialization if they need to once the puppy is home with them.

The resident cat patiently allows
pups to visit at Kodiak Acres in CT

This adorable video shows newf pups meeting the resident cat at Vent du Nord Newfoundlands in Saskatchewan.  Looks like the cat is the one in charge here!

Breeders will also have visitors over to interact with the puppies. There is no set rule as to what age visitors are allowed, each breeder has their own preference. The more people the puppies meet the more comfortable they will be with strangers. Children should also be included in the mix of visitors to help the puppies learn that people come in all shapes and sizes.

Socialization with children at Ashmoor Newfoundlands in Ontario

Outdoor play and socialization at Nautica Newfoundlands in Alberta

Puppies "Skyping" as part of their socialization experience at Heartsease Newfoundlands in BC

Early socialization is a critical step towards ensuring that your puppy has the best start in life. If the breeder you are considering does not feel that socialization through living in a home environment is important then we highly recommend selecting a different breeder. Not all breeders are alike and it is important that you ask them about where their puppies are housed and what steps the breeder takes to ensure they are well socialized before going to your home.

Wagon of pups at
Sea Worthy Newfoundlands in CT

Stay tuned for the next blog Puppy Socialization Continues – An Owner’s Responsibility

Puppy play time, exploring new textures and experiences at Even Keel Newfoundlands in Colorado.