Jul 07 2017

Socialization

Most everyone will agree that socialization is important for puppies, but what does socialization really mean? When we talk about socialization, we think about exposing your dog or puppy to different people, other dogs of various sizes, other pets and new situations. But socialization is not as straightforward as just dumping your puppy into new situations. You want your puppy to feel good about these new things. There are two general ways to present a stimulus: flooding and conditioning. Flooding is introducing the stimulus full force. Conditioning is gradually introducing a new stimulus and increasing it little by little. Flooding is taking your puppy to the dog park and having every dog and person there come see it at once. Imagine Indiana Jones falling into the chamber with all the snakes or Ron Weasley in the forest with Aragog. Since most puppies have been around dogs and people before, this experience may not create a fear of new dogs and people, but it is not a good idea regardless. Conditioning is more like walking your puppy around the neighborhood and meeting an occasional person or pet who is calm and friendly, ensuring that it is ok before there is any interaction or having friends come over and allow your puppy to come investigate them before picking it up, dragging it around and playing with it.
There is a large variation in what any particular puppy is comfortable with so the key is recognizing signs of stress and anxiety in your puppy. Some signs of anxiety are pretty obvious: hiding, cowering, tail tucked. Other signs are more subtle: licking, panting, ears down, eyes rolled. So the key is recognizing these signs and decreasing the stimulus until your puppy is comfortable again. Then you can try to get your puppy back in a happy, comfortable state of mind, then reintroduce the stimulus with a positive reinforcement. Do not force your puppy into a situation in which they are stressed.
You should utilize this in socializing your puppy all day, every day. With a little work, you can help your puppy be happy and confident in all sorts of situations.

ntaylor | Uncategorized

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