The Basics of Dog Socialization

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The Basics of Dog Socialization

Dogs must be well socialized from a very early age if they are to accept humans, the domestic environment in which they live and other dogs and animals without any kinds of problem behavior occurring.

Social contact

Dogs are social creatures. Different breeds of dog enjoy the company of people and other animals to different extents, but all like to live their lives in a pack with others, whether human or canine. If denied social contact, they can become badly behaved or depressed. An under socialized dog can be difficult to live with, handle and control, and should be properly socialized for the safety and contentment of all concerned.

Human contact

Dogs need to be taught to behave well around all humans. Examples of these include the following:

• Wheelchair users, people with walking sticks or crutches and the elderly.

• Babies, toddlers, timid people and people who are not comfortable around dogs.

• Energetic and noisy children and adults.

• Joggers, cyclists, rollerblades, skate­boarders and people pushing prams.

• People with beards, unusual hairstyles, spectacles, headgear, uniforms or umbrellas.

Delivery people

Many dogs have a particular problem with delivery people, because of territorial aggression (a form of fear aggression).

Delivery people come to his territory, where he is most confident, and then, from the dog’s point of view, go as soon as they are barked at, so the barking has worked.

To prevent aggression towards delivery people, make a point of introducing your dog to them, and getting them to give him treats or even throwing a toy for him, so that he views them as rewarding and so welcomes them.

Different environments

Things that are normal to us in our everyday environment both inside and outside the home can be confusing, even frightening, to a dog if he has not been properly introduced to and socialized with them. Items such as a vacuum cleaner, slippery floors, stairs, traffic, hair-drier, the television and washing machine can all be sources of mental distress to a dog.

Get your dog used to such things gradually but persistently, using lots of treats and games so that he views them as rewarding experiences. If your dog has grown up in a busy household, then he is more likely to view household appliances with indifference, but an older dog unused to them needs careful introductions in short training sessions so as not to daunt him.

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