Every Thursday evening I preach to our Unleashed Potential puppy management class in PEI about socializing their pups. You can really tell who takes you seriously week after week seeing the progression in how well the pup adjusts to new people and dogs entering class every week. It is common for us to have people call in and inform us they need help with an aggressive dog and up on reflection in the consultation we come to learn its not aggression, its a simple case of over reacting due to lack of socialization. If only all cases were so easy; unsocialization is, in my opinion, one of the major contributing factors to aggression in dogs and most commonly presents itself as fear aggression. It cant be stressed enough how socialization can enhance your dogs way of life. You can help prevent a wide sort of behaviour problems by capitalizing on socializing your dogs.
what is socialization?
Socialization is something we do as children, our family socializes us we watch and absorb the world around us and learn to deal with a wide variety of situations. We go to school and continue on a different level of socialization learning the ways to behave in social situations and what is appropriate and not. For the dogs it is very much the same. Socialization simply put is where the dog learns to relate to people, other dogs, environments and animals based on direct experience. Meaning the dog is introduced to these things as early and as often as possible. My advice is to expose them to everything they may come across in their lives, meaning a lot of nature as well as man manipulated environments like gravel, beaches, pavement, linoleum or hardwood etc, sounds like vacuums, hair dryers, dishwashers, doors opening and closing and doorbells Ect….and make as many possible associations positive to the dog.
why is it important?
Socializing your dog is extremely important so that the dog learns to accept, process and handle new situations, environments and everyday things. Its important to remember it does not just apply to your family. Yes, your dog bonds with you and accepts you into their pack BUT this does not translate to accepting everyone and without ever being introduced to a bundle of different people its unfair to even think so. A dog that has never met or interacted with random people should be expected to bark and be uneasy if exposed and even translate into aggression. Socializing your dog with other animals and dogs is an excellent idea not only to help prevent any aggression to animals but also the dog can learn bite control, more about social hierarchy and acceptable play behaviour. Socializing also applies to sounds, sights and surroundings. I’m sure we have all had at least one dog that was noisy, scared or insane around a vacuum cleaner. Avoiding a dog that barks at everything that moves, makes noise, or is new can be done by properly exposing the dog as early as possible in the most positive way possible.
How can I socialize my dog?
If it is a puppy the very best thing you could do is sign up for our Unleashed Potential Puppy Management Program with one of our trainers. Whether a pup or a dog of 10 years, education is key, for positive and effective socialization. A group class situation can be ideal as long as its controlled and not a free for all. Avoiding dog parks with puppies and older unsocialized dogs is an unlikely recommendation you may think but I do recommend to my clients to avoid them: Most dog parks are set up for owners to unleash the dogs and have a coffee and shoot the sh*t, few are actually concentrating on the dogs interactions creating a vulnerability to unwanted interactions. Remember your dogs memory is better than yours, any unwanted and poor ending at the end of an exposure event can stick with the dog causing future behaviour issues. Making social interactions as positive as possible is your best bet to properly socialize your dog. Exposing them as early and as often as possible to everything positively is the best defence in avoiding aggression and other issues. Association with valued food is always a good way to start!
If you have a dog older than 5months of age please contact us TODAY for your FREE Demonstration and Consult simply by clicking here. If you have a puppy DO NOT WAIT start now in training, laying out guidelines and socializing in our puppy management class in PEI – ongoing every Thursday night at 6:30pm. NOT ON THE ISLAND? Not to worry each of our UPK9 location offers puppy programs!
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