Puppy Socialization

One of the biggest training opportunities that most people don’t even realize can be training is socializing your puppy. Now, I don’t mean you take your furry friend as your +1 to your cousin’s wedding…

social puppy

What I mean is every chance you have to get your puppy out and around new and different things is a chance to let them know that the world is a big place, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one. I don’t know about you, but anytime I go somewhere new, I always feel a sense of relief if I am being accompanied by someone who knows the area, the people, and even what to expect out of the new experience. My confidence is boosted and I feel a lot more prepared to handle what might come our way. Not only that, but I build a connection with whomever was kind enough to come with and help me to make my first visit or introduction a success. The same concepts apply to our dogs. When we take them with and allow them to see something besides the inside of the house and the backyard we broaden their ability to take in their surroundings and to not become overwhelmed.

Warren

The best way to do this? Start slow… I always tell my clients you can’t set a goal small enough. If you set it even lower than what you and your dog can handle, it ends up just being another success to add to the books. Getting in over your head and creating a failure turns into something that must be fixed. If you jump right into the deep end, assuming that one or both of you can handle it, bad things happen. Your dogs loses faith in you and develops a bad taste for anything and possibly everything related to the new area, person, or experience.

Just remember, unless you plan on having a hermit of a dog that doesn’t even go to the vet for it’s yearly checkup, you’re going to have to introduce your dog to the outside world at some point and the quicker you can do it, the better. It’s easier to mold behavior and prevent problems than it is to fix once they’ve been created.

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2 thoughts on “Puppy Socialization

  1. My dog was born in a shelter and remained in one just past a year, so the early socialization kind of went out the window. However, he does really well in certain settings like festivals, dog parks, and even at the vet. Where he has serious issues are family gatherings (especially with children), and any setting where he’s restricted to a room and someone moves too quickly or talks too loudly. His comfort zone is the size of a pea and he STILL barks like he’s never seen my husband every day he comes home from work. It’s not a welcome bark either, he gets seriously agitated. It just makes me feel hopeless that we’ve had him for three years and each day it’s like we have to start from scratch in introducing my hubby to him…

    • Julie, this is one thing that I would love to be able to remedy as far as rescues and shelters are concerned. I’m not sure if the people running the rescue/shelter understand how detrimental it is to not socialize a dog or if it’s just not an easy task. I love what Western Animal Resources does by requesting volunteers to come play with the dogs on pretty days. I’ve seen some dogs that have either permanent psychological damage done or at the very least would take years of ‘therapy’ to come out of it. That being said, it doesn’t have a bearing on whether they can be loved or even whether they can be happy, it just means that if we lived in a perfect world we would be able to prevent this type of thing happening and wouldn’t have to rehab them out of it. Dogs are just like people in the fact that certain situations won’t have the damaging effects on one dog as it will others. I really wish we lived closer because I’m certain I could help you with Gregor (if you wanted it of course). I know we had a lesson but learning what you need in one lesson is somewhat like expecting a child to learn everything they’d learn in elementary school packed into one week. And don’t feel as though you have to worry about what your dog does or doesn’t do as long as you guys are happy and can exist without too much issue 🙂

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