Socialising is one of the most important things you can do for any puppy - they learn how to interact with the world and something of how many different things there are out there and to be confident in coping with many of them.
If your puppy is to be a full time livestock guardian, you can still consider a puppy school - most have a cut off age of 16 weeks. The decision is totally up to you but you will not 'ruin' your pup as a guardian by attending a few lessons with your pup at a young age for short periods of time - most puppy schools are only 1 hour in length. The experiences gained will give them confidence of new situations.
I do however recommend that you speak with your local puppy school and ensure that they centre their activities on fun and socialising, and do not pressure pups to 'conform' to what they feel is 'right' or 'wrong' behaviour. If you do attend, you will notice that in some ways, even if your pup is only 9 or 10 weeks old, there will be differences between your maremma pup and other breeds.
This page is a short case study on some of the things a puppy may experience at a puppy school and how a typical maremma may cope with these experiences.
Cetta began attending puppy school at the age of 13 weeks. She had only experience car travel once - when she was transported to maremmano.com's home at 8 weeks old, and she had only experienced her maremma family at her birth home, and a companion maremma Cero who is 10 months old at her new home.
She had experienced a range of visitors and was walking on lead (though not 'at heel') twice daily to be moved between her night area at the house to her day paddock area.
We arrived early as Cetta was booked in for her vaccination, so we had to wait alone for about 20 minutes for the other puppies to arrived. Cetta was not certain about walking through the automatic doors on first arrival, but once inside she remained calm and curious about the very new and different surroundings.
Cetta checks out the scales carefully, but you can see by her body language that she is curious and confident.
You would think that she knows there will be more puppies coming throught his door as she stand expectantly waiting for their arrival to puppy school. Again her body language shows that she is curious and confident even in these very new surroundings.
Well she is a baby, and a baby can only wait expectantly for so long - a nap whilst waiting is always a good idea.
Once the pups arrived, all other pups sat with their owners in the waiting room, many of them feeling a little nervous, but Cetta was keen to meeting these new friends. Again note the body language - the raised tail is a good signal of her being curious and a little excited, but also confident.
We still had some waiting to do, and Cetta soon settled down to sit and that famous maremma position of 'watching and waiting'.
The classes are held upstairs at this surgery, so the pups all got to experience being led through a series of corridors in a lined group, and then outside again and up a long set of concrete stairs.
Cetta did balk at the bottom of the stairs, but I simply held the lead until she stopped struggling and she kind of took a breath and up we went!
Cetta had not yet been taught to sit, so she got to be the demonstration puppy as you can see in the following video. The video shows well an easy method for teaching sit, and also how quickly a maremma pup can learn something new.
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