Do you like energy drinks?

I don’t.

I’ve never really had one, though.

Years ago I took one drink of a Vault soda.  The Vault soda wasn’t a true energy drink, it was marketed as a mix between an energy drink and a soda.

Regardless of what it was I found it to be so disgusting and so distasteful that I threw it away.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one.  They discontinued that drink last year.

From that moment on, though, the idea of drinking ANY energy drink was associated with that one experience I had in tasting that vile elixir.  The association with that one drink was so gross that it tainted my desire for anything that I associate as being similar and I’ve been unable to even think about trying an energy drink since then.

Have you ever had something like that in your life?  A taste, a smell, an experience, etc. that was powerful enough that it effects your choices to this day?  Many of us have.

The same is true for your dog.  In socializing your dog your canine buddy is going to have hundreds and thousands of experiences.  Many of them will be benign and will have little to no bearing on your dog’s mental health.

Many others will be positive and will shape your dog’s personality in a good way.

The associations you need to really watch out for when it comes to socializing your dog are the negative ones.  If your dog has negative things happen to him or her, especially during the ‘socialization window’ period between 8 weeks and 6 months of age, there is a high probability that those experience turn into ‘baggage’ that your dog may carry around for years to come.

When I work with my clients who own puppies I’m always very careful to help them understand ‘Vault Soda Association’.  Give your puppy a specific negative experience with another dog and that can turn into dog aggression when the dog gets older.  The same is true if your pup has a bad experience with kids.  Or men, or skateboards, or any other number of experiences in your puppy’s life.

When it comes to socializing your puppy it is your job to make sure that, as best you can, your puppy has positive association after positive association.  He or she needs to believe (at least during the first few months of life) that everyone and everything encountered is great and friendly.

I’ve got young children.  I know that in their lifetime they’ll be exposed to filthy language, violence, back-stabbing, and other horrors that plague our human society.  But I’ll be darned if I allow them to be exposed to that at the tender age of 4.  Think of your puppy in the same terms.  You won’t always be able to shelter him or her from life’s evils but you need to do your best when your pup is young.

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