Puppy Socialization

Puppy Socialization: The Best Way To Socialize Your Puppy With Other Dogs

Puppy Socialization: The Best Way To Socialize Your Puppy With Other Dogs

Knowing how to behave properly when around other dogs represents a skill vital for any canine to enjoy his venture beyond his own yard. However, this aspect of socialization harbors more serious risks than meeting people. Dogs possess a defined set of rules in greeting each other, and though most adults grant leeway for ill-mannered puppies, not all do.

For this reason, puppy kindergarten classes provides the safest venue for socializing your puppy around other dogs. Kindergarten restricts classes to puppies who have completed vaccinations and helps owners train basic manners. A good class recognizes the value of letting puppies interact.

Also important, but not always part of every puppy class, is the inclusion of structured play sessions. Many puppy classes allow general playtime with all the puppies turned loose at once. This frequently results in smaller or timid puppies getting “beat up” by larger or more dominant pups. Because unpleasant encounters can initiate fear or aggression toward other dogs, find a class where the instructor supervises all puppy interaction.

Look for kindergarten classes at training clubs or private trainers via your local phone directory under “pets” or “dog training”. Your potential instructor should have experience in teaching assorted breeds from the various groups. Ask if they use treats, toys, praise and play to encourage canine cooperation rather than forcing compliance. It is best to observe a class in progress. If both people and puppies appear to be doing well and having fun, consider signing up.

As mentioned, not all dogs look kindly on puppies. If your kindergarten class takes place at a busy training club, keep your pup away from dogs that are not in your group. Ignore the often heard assurance of “Oh, he’s friendly” unless it comes from your instructor. A well-meaning but misguided student from another class may offer this statement before understanding exactly how their dog feels about puppies.

“Monsters” That Your Dog May Have To Deal With

A few years ago, when walking one of my young dogs along a city sidewalk in my brother’s neighborhood, my dog stopped dead, staring nervously ahead. Following her gaze, I realized she had spotted a potential monster: a fire hydrant.

Though I have always worked hard to socialize my dogs well, Cocoa, my Ibizan Hound, was cautious in nature and country living had excluded a prior encounter with this common city fixture.

Knowing Cocoa would largely key off my own reaction, I “kidded” her about being silly and walked another route. After crossing the street, we again headed in the “monster’s” direction, but this time there was a street width between us. As Cocoa started eyeing the hydrant, I pretended to be oblivious, chatting happily to her until well past it. On the way back, she was fine.

Later, I decided to see how she would respond if we again walked on the side where the monster lay in wait. This time I armed myself with some treats. When we neared the spot where she first noticed the hydrant, I started talking cheerfully and gave her a few goodies. This distracted her from worrying and assured her I had no concerns.

Within a minute or two, we were beyond the hydrant. She gave a short backward glance to make sure it wasn’t following us, but paid it little mind on our return trip.

The point of the story is that you should expect odd or unfamiliar objects to alarm your puppy or young dog. And when they do, don’t soothe him with a pat on the back to make him feel better. He’ll take this as a reward for being afraid. Instead, work to face the “danger” head on so in time he becomes used to whatever it is that was scaring him in the first place.


The information shared on this site is for information only. It does not take the place of professional advice from your pet’s healthcare provider.

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