For this month's Trainer Tips, I would like to retouch on one of the most important things you can do for your dog...to properly socialize them.
Properly socializing your dog is very important, but many people do not understand what that actually means. Proper socialization is not only exposing your dog to as many situations, people, and other dogs as possible, but more importantly, making all of these experiences positive ones so that your dog becomes comfortable no matter what happens.
In order to do this, it is important for you to allow your dog to take his time exploring something new. Never quickly force a dog or puppy that is not comfortable into a new situation. The dog should appear mostly relaxed, not tense or afraid. This is why it is so important to begin this process as soon as possible! This means the day you get your dog, or as soon as your new puppy has all his shots and is vet approved to meet others.
Although we do not want to force our dogs into the situation, we must also ensure that they do not shut down from fear. Dogs that do this become trapped in that fearful state. This is obviously not healthy for your dog or something we want to have happen. To prevent this, ensure that when your dog socializes, they are not allowed to hide behind or under you (their owner) or other people or objects. If they hide under a person, the person should move away. If they hide under an object, move the other dogs away from the area, then slowly encourage/ lead the dog out of his hiding spot. Try and block the hiding spot once they are out.
To help take the pressure off a fearful dog, you can also turn the fearful dog around and allow the new dog to sniff their rear end. It is best to allow one dog to sniff a very fearful dog at a time. Then turn the new dog around and allow the fearful dog to sniff the new dog's rear end. Greeting a dog this way helps takes pressure off dogs who are fearful, anxious, or nervous.
Below is a video on Proper Dog Socialization.
This video features Khloe, a 6-month-old Boxer in training with SGDs.
Also in this video are two of our own pack, Caravaggio (our Great Dane mix), and Devo (our Miniature Pinscher/ Chihuahua mix...currently 7 months).
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