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Socializing Your Dog

February 2nd, 2010

Socialize: 1) to make social; make fit for life in companionship with others. 2) to associate or mingle sociably with others

I want you, for a minute, to close your eyes and imagine you have a baby in your arms.  You’re out at a party and an unknown person walks up to you and asks to hold your child.  Soon, everyone is handling the baby, talking to him, and he begins to cry.  Yet he is continuously passed around, hugged, cooed at, and his back is patted, even though he is crying.

Are you a good parent socializing your child, or a bad parent for not responding to the child’s fearful reaction to this unwarranted stress?

Everywhere you go you take your child so that he may become socialized and everywhere you go this same scenario is the result.  I don’t know many parents that believe that the way to socialize a child is to take them out into the world and pass them around, encouraging incorrect behavior, fear, and learning responses that the parent must un-teach later.

Normally, we take our babies and toddlers out with us, let them see the world and what’s going on in it, but do not expect them to interact with every person or thing they come into contact with.  We also are very aware of our children tiring from this overload of experience.

We guide their behavior and responses to people and things they come into contact with while exposing them, judiciously, to life.

Yet, we demand that our pups live in this chaos, overload and fear all in the name of socialization.  Rarely do we give a thought to the pup’s exhaustion, fear, trepidation and allow, even encourage, everyone to touch, loom over, coo at, or in some manner stress the young dog.

Is it a wonder it takes so long for pups to learn to trust their owners?  His owner is constantly pushing him into fearful interaction without our support or guidance.

Is it a wonder that once the pup is numb to fear it begins to learn to react to people and dogs in a hyper manner?  After all, he has been encouraged to show a hyper response to all people when they greet him with a high-pitched tone.

Is it a wonder that the pup ceases to listen to the owner?  The person who has repeatedly pushed him into, or by failure to intervene allowed him to have to deal with, each new experience on his own?

If you truly want a confident, calm, trusting & listening pup, then don’t insist he interact with everything and everyone.  It is enough that he observes the world around him.  After all, it is enough for us to SEE a car accident to understand we don’t want to experience it first-hand.

Stand up for your pup, don’t let everyone swoop down on him, touch him, pick him up.  It’s frightening and you’ll have emotional and behavioral obstacles to overcome if this form of interaction is encouraged.

If you won’t let people do it to your infant, don’t let them do it to your pup or small dog.

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  1. From Beth and Sandy, Cascade, February 4, 2010:

    This is really interesting. It made me think of a couple of times I was walking my dog at a public park, and people, usually being dragged by their dogs, would allow their lunging dogs to lunge at my dog. They ALWAYS say, “he’s friendly. He just wants to play. Why won’t you let your dog talk to him?” This request makes no logical sense, as you point out, and puts alot of pressure on the dog who is behaving. Great post.

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