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Socializing Your Dog


Why Is Socializing Important?

Before you can have a mannerly dog, he needs to be a social dog. Dogs that have been properly socialized early in life usually grow up to be friendly, confident, happy dogs, that get along with everybody and everything. If your dog isn't socialized properly he can become nervous, shy, aggressive and untrustworthy in social situations.
What Is Socializing?

Socializing is more than just getting your dog to like people and other dogs. Don't get me wrong, those things are important but there is much more. Think of socializing your dog as "civilizing" him. You need to get him prepared for civilization as we know it. What do we encounter in civilization? Traffic, loud noises, crowds, noisy kids, big buildings, elevators, stairs, noisy machines, etc. Your new puppy needs to become comfortable with everything he will encounter as an adult dog. Obviously you don't expose your new puppy to everything all at once.
How To Socialize Him

Start by getting him used to all the objects in your house that he will come in contact with. For example: scary, noisy things like vacuum cleaners and floor polishers should be done gradually. Begin using the machine while the puppy is in his crate on the other side of the room. Let him watch you clean the carpet and slowly move to the area he is in. Watch him to be sure that he doesn't panic. If he seems calm, continue. If he begins to panic, remove him to an area where he can watch, but you won't come too close to his crate with that scary machine. Take your time. Once he shows no fear of it you can take him out of the crate and let him investigate the machine while it is off. DON'T turn it on while he is close to it.

Everything that is NEW to the puppy should be introduced in a similar fashion. Be sure to teach your puppy how to walk up and down stairs, even if you don't have stairs in your house. You never know when you will have to use them and a dog that has never taken stairs before can be quite a handful to deal with. Always take it slow until the puppy is comfortable with the new encounter.
Getting Him Out In Public

Take your puppy out in public as soon as your vet says he has been adequately immunized against diseases. Enroll him in a puppy kindergarten class or a beginning obedience class. Take him to stores like large chain pet supermarkets. These places encourage pet owners to bring their pets into the store on leash. Ask everyone you meet in these stores (especially employees) to pet your dog. Always have your dog sit to be petted. Never allow your dog to jump up on people.

Take him for walks in heavy people-traffic areas like grocery store or mall entrances. The more people and traffic you are around the more comfortable your pup will become in these situations. If someone wants to pet your dog, always have your dog sit for the encounter.

Take him into large building where dogs are permitted and use the elevator. Never take it for granted that your puppy will be ok with everything. Always be prepared to stop and take time to let him investigate something he has never seen before. Investigate it with him so that he sees that you are not afraid of it.

Hereís what I do when my dog is afraid of something. I approach the object and let the dog stay at the end of his leash. No way is he going to get close. Then I begin investigating it. For instance, if itís a trash can, you could go up to it and check it out, touch it, lift the lid, comment on how interesting it is, and so on. Sounds silly doesnít it, but it works. Leave your dog hanging at the end of his leash while you do this and eventually his curiosity will build and he will cautiously come up and stick his nose out and sniff it. At that point, praise him and simply move on. Thatís all you need, little successes.

NEVER force your puppy to investigate something he's afraid of. Give him a chance to take it slow and always let him see that you are not afraid of anything. He will eventually copy your braveness.




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