SOCIALIZATION

Socialization of your new puppy is essential to help him or her settle in to their new home and surroundings.  When most people think of ‘socialization’, they think their puppy must go around and meet every new person and dog possible.  This is incorrect and can be very confusing to your puppy.  Instead, you expose your puppy to various stimuli, all the while showing your puppy that you advocate for them and take the lead.  Reward them for focusing on YOU, not their surroundings.  Block strange dogs from approaching.  This can prevent leash aggression and reactivity.  Here’s a handy checklist of different stimuli to expose your new puppy to.

HANDLING

  • Checking ears
  • Mouth, teeth, gums
  • Eyes, nose, feet
  • Handling genitals/rectal area
  • Handling tail, legs, toenails

Handle these areas often.  Calmly reward their acceptance of your handling, and end the session on a positive note.  

ANIMALS

  • Older dog that will gently reprimand puppy
  • Cats
  • Squirrels
  • Chickens/Ducks
  • Horses and other livestock
  • Indifferent dog

Teach your puppy that smaller animal are not prey.  Reward them when they ignore other animals.  If they seem fearful, move them away so they know you will not put them where they aren’t comfortable.  Correct leash lunging, ask them to sit and focus on you.

SOUNDS

  • Vacuum, pots/pans, appliances
  • Doorbells, traffic, neighbors
  • Dogs barking
  • Children playing/yelling
  • Sirens, construction equipment
  • Thunder, fireworks, gunshots

Remain calm and positive.  If your puppy acts fearful, remove him to a crate or other safe place.  Do not unintentionally reward fearful or reactive behavior by reassuring in a sweet voice.  Give them a command: Sit, down, etc…  Reward their calm behavior, correct any reactive behavior gently but firmly.

OBJECTS

  • Garbage cans, mowers, lawn equipment
  • Strollers, bikes, wheelchairs, scooters
  • Cars, trucks, buses, trains, etc
  • Shopping carts
  • Brooms, balloons, umbrellas
  • Blankets/rugs being shaken, items blowing in the wind

Calmly redirect puppy’s focus to you if they are distracted.  Do not reward fearful or prey drive behaviors with a sweet voice.  Give firm basic commands, reward the behaviors.  Practice recall around these distractions, on a long leash at first, then off leash when appropriate.

ENVIRONMENTS/SURFACES

  • Suburban neighborhoods and city streets
  • Parking lots, elevators
  • Slippery floors
  • Inside various buildings
  • Sporting events
  • Woods, rivers, open space

Practice puppy’s focus on you.  Keep rewarding positive progress.  Obedience to basic commands goes a long way!  Build confidence by teaching them to sit in a variety of places, on items, etc. 

PEOPLE

  • Babies, kids, elderly
  • Men with deep voices, beards, moustaches
  • People of various ethnicities
  • People wearing hats, helmets, glasses, or backpacks
  • Homeless or indigent people

This is one of the toughest parts of socialization.  Your puppy is SO cute and people want to approach and pet them.  Generally it is best to ask people to not approach.  Get puppy to focus on you, reward when they do.  Work basic commands around a variety of people.  If your puppy or dog is acting reactive, do NOT let the person approach or force puppy to approach them.  Remove them from the triggering person, re-focus, and move on.  

Socialization can be the trickiest part of puppy ownership!  Once your puppy realizes that you will advocate for them, not allowing strange dogs, new people, or children approach them, their trust in you will grow immensely.  They will be at your side in new environments, knowing that you will not allow them to be in a sutuation that they can’t handle.  Never will they have to growl or snap at someone or something, since you have shown them early on that you control their interactions.  Holding them accountable, too, goes a long way.  If a behavior is not allowed, then never allow it.  Consistent but fair consequences will teach them what is expected of them.  Contact us for some recommendations on some more in-depth reading material if you want to learn more!

LEADERSHIP

“What is Leadership exactly?
Someone that controls, manages, guides, instructs, inspires, and influences others how to best navigate any given situation.
It’s safe to assume that, in a group of individuals, there is always at least ONE that rises above the masses to provide structure, boundaries, accountability, clear expectations, and guidance for the rest of group.
The problem arises when this very element is missing from our family unit (dogs included), and the dog then assumes this role for the entire home.
Peeps… Dogs are dogs living in a HUMAN world. They are not born with a skill set on how to best navigate their lives. This is something that needs to be shaped, molded, and cultivated by someone that already possesses the ability. It is OUR responsibility to be the Leaders they need to become the best versions of themselves.
When properly shared, Leadership has the ability to transform and positively affect a dog’s behavior. Without it, dogs will create a space that best serves them. A dog that is unsure of who’s in charge, or is confused as to what may be allowed or not, will always seize the opportunity to create rules that serve HIM best. And this could very well become a very dangerous space to live within…
Dogs are at their best, most stable, healthy, and comfortable selves when rules are REAL, Leadership is unquestionable, consequences are consistent, and they know their HUMAN always has their back.”
-PAWSitively Calm

STRUCTURE

“What do you think happens when a poorly behaved dog has fewer options to choose from? Meaning, that we restrict the choices he makes, and what he’s allowed to do.
Less opportunity to misbehave, right?
That roster of bad behaviors—pacing inside the house, incessant barking out the front window, chewing drywall, eating socks, explosions on walks, pulling on leash, manic episodes in the car—all magically fade away because the dog isn’t ALLOWED the chance to make a bad choice.
Owners that fail to set boundaries, to step up and take control, are too busy to be bothered, or feel bad for drawing a hard line, are simply allowing their pets to make up their own rules as they go. Overindulgence, permissiveness, and allowance then compound to create negative fallout, and perhaps even regret.
Here’s the thing… each bad choice isn’t an issue in and of itself. Instead, they become manifestations of an accumulation of allowances due to a void in boundary-setting.
When we restrict a poorly behaved dog’s FREEDOM from making her own unhealthy choices, we literally see her transform before our eyes. When humans confuse acts of leadership and setting clear rules for our dogs as mean or cruel, we end up sacrificing meeting their full needs and the dog ultimately ends up paying the price for it.
Dogs THRIVE on structure, rules, and boundaries Peeps!
If we could all make this mental shift, our dogs would lead much more balanced lives.”
-PAWSitively Calm