Socialising your dog, the right way, another aspect of dog safety dog owners need to be aware of!
Many of the behaviour problems I see in dogs these days, stem from dogs being incorrectly socialized.
There is a lot of information out there on how to socialize your dog/puppy with other dogs. Many experts say, if you want a well socialized dog, your dog should meet as many dogs as possible.
What they neglect to tell you is, the dogs you introduce your dog to, should be friendly, non aggressive/non dominant dogs.
Reality is, your dog should only socialize with dogs you personally know, who are friendly, non aggressive and non dominant.
Also, many dog owners are led to believe that once your dog has attended a socialization/obedience class. Your dog should be OK around other dogs for the rest of its lifetime, Wrong!
Even puppy and obedience classes can contribute to behaviour problems in dogs, if not run correctly.
A bad experience especially at a young age with an unfamiliar dog, situation or person may cause behaviour problems, such as aggression or timidness.
For example: a dog rushes up to your dog and stares at it in the face, barks or jumps at it, or on it, your dog may feel intimated or frightened. If your dog is attacked by another dog, your dog in most cases, will become dog aggressive. The same can happen with children, if they have had a bad experience early on in life, it can stay with them and influence their behaviour, later on in life.
Imagine if a stranger we to come rushing up to you, shouting, “Hi, its ok I am friendly”, then proceeded to try and hug you, how would that make you feel?
Even in a multi-dog household the above behaviour should be watched out for and stopped right away. Dogs remember bad experiences and those experiences can and do impact on their behaviour.
Dogs off leash but not under control can also lead to bad experiences for you and your dog.
Dogs go through fear periods at certain stages of their early life, so it is good to be aware of them.
* Between eight to ten weeks of age
* Anywhere from four to six months
* Again at around 12 months
* At approximately 14 to 18 months and with some dogs can even be as late as 2 years
Genetics and experiences both contribute heavily to a dog’s personality. Some dogs have good genetic temperaments and can rise above bad experiences. Others have problems in their genetic temperaments and don’t do too well even in ideal environments.
Often, the genetic temperament serves as a limiting factor to how much personality improvement you can achieve through providing the right experiences. The wrong experiences, especially early in life, maybe very hard to overcome but a good behaviour modification program can help a lot.
If you encounter a situation where your dog becomes apprehensive or a bit scared/aggressive DO NOT pat your dog and say “Its OK” by doing that you have just praised your dog for being scared/aggressive. Instead, gently tell him “No”, get your dog to focus on you, so you can help him behave more naturally, do some obedience, canine parkour, or whatever else your dog enjoys. Don’t force your dog into any situation that clearly makes him uncomfortable or stressed. Take things slowly, so your dog has good associations. Its all about your dog, its not about you and what you think, your dog needs or should be able to handle.
If you want a well-rounded socialized dog, it needs to be introduced from an early age to new places, sights & sounds, (the world is not a quiet place) and people. Even if you live in a rural area, you need to make the effort to take your dog out and about. Remember, socialising your dog, its all about your dog, its not about you and what you think, your dog needs or should be able to handle.
- Take your dog for a drive
- Stop at a service station, car park etc there your dog will see, meet and hear people, cars & trucks
- Take your dog for a walk around town
- Stop by a school or park and make your dog sit or stand quietly while adults/kids are around.
- Take your dog to a dog park but keep your dog on the lead.
- Take your dog near a busy road but stand a safe distance away from the traffic and watch the cars & trucks go by.
- If there is a dog show in your area take your dog along and walk around.
- If you go to the beach or river take your dog with you sometimes.
If you find your dog is having a few problems do something about it, contact a behaviorist/trainer and enlist their help. Most problems (even aggression) can be managed or eliminated altogether, with the right training & behaviour modification. There’s no such thing as a quick fix; it can take a lot of time and effort on the part of the owner. Work has to be done on a daily basis.
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