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…
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.
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.