Any top dog trainer, who employs a reputable, positive dog training program with respectful dog training techniques, knows that dogs are not solitary beings. In the wild, dogs and wolves live in family units, and instinctively choose to work together to hunt and protect themselves. As the idiom goes, there’s safety in numbers, and their family units offer that.
Your dog’s ancestors were, indeed, predators, but they weren’t invincible. Especially when separated from their packs, they were vulnerable in unfamiliar situations that included unknown creatures and landscapes. This fear was necessary for survival, and lives on in modern dogs.
In many cases, fear of strange situations can morph into bigger problems: like life altering, fearful aggression. Many dogs who growl, bark, and bite do so because they are fearful, and deem strange places, people, and situations worthy of defense.
For these reasons, not excluding the safety of your family, neighbors, other dogs, and your own dog, it’s important to start socializing your puppy as early as possible.
Early in a puppy’s life, namely during months two and three, he’s literally absorbing his world; learning, exploring, and building his confidence. This is your chance to show him how exciting and nontoxic the world can be.
Think about the things that you anticipate doing with your adult dog, and expose your puppy to those experiences. Here are some ideas for socializing your puppy:
It’s never difficult to find children who are willing to mingle with your puppy. Encourage this, so that your puppy can become accustomed to the quick hands and feet of children.
Hop in the car for rides with your puppy.
Walk her on nature trails, where she’ll see squirrels, birds, etc.
Frequent the dog park or dog obedience training schools, where social opportunities with other dogs abound.
Frequent city sidewalks. Give your puppy the chance to develop a tolerance for loud engines, horns, cyclists, pedestrians, and other walking dogs.
Stop in at the groomer’s, the kennel, the vet clinic, and the pet shop for visits. Allow your puppy the opportunity to introduce herself to the staff at each venue.
Many retailers, pet supply stores, and banks welcome pets. Don’t miss this opportunity to introduce your puppy to new people. Allow those people to offer her treats, to build trust.
Use clicker training to reward her most confident behavior, despite sharp noises, quick children, and unfamiliar dogs.
If your puppy is frightened by a noise or a strange dog or human, ignore her fear. If you reassure her, she’ll mistake that reassurance for reward of her fearful behavior. Disregard this behavior, and save the rewards for the time when she sheds the fearful display.
If your puppy shows fear of a stranger, or another dog, never push him into that situation. Allow him to stay back, while you display your own confidence. Soon, he will take a cue from you, and will approach. When he does so, calmly and fearlessly, you can click and reward.
Many times, pet owners find that they aren’t physically able to take their puppies out into the wide world. If you find that this is your case, hire a top dog trainer, or even a dog walker, who will socialize your puppy properly. Invite friends with children and animals to your home to meet your puppy. If you don’t take these steps, your puppy could grow to become a dog who is uncomfortable with, and possibly aggressive toward, visitors.
Every time you take your puppy for a ride, or a walk, or meander through a crowd of people with her, she’s gaining the confidence that’s necessary to be a calm, friendly adult dog.
If you’ve ever walked into a room full of strangers, you know how unnerving it can be. This mirrors your dog’s emotions. But you can change that, with puppy socialization. Dog obedience training victory, and a first class dog human relationship, rely on it.
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