Just yesterday I saw a magnificent pitbull that I so wanted to meet. The owners said, “She’s not always friendly.” I walked a parallel path to her a couple of times and then she growled. I think she may have been growling at the dog in my car some 20+ feet away but in any event, I gave up with the comment that it is a shame when a dog whose breed already has an unpleasant reputation, is unfriendly.
If you want to own a dog that can meet and greet other dogs and people on a walk & generally cope with life’s adventures, you MUST begin to socialize your puppy the day you bring him home! Furthermore, you need to continue to expose your puppy, your adolescent pup and your dog to new people, places and things throughout his lifetime.
How many times have I heard,”My puppy loves everybody. He’s not afraid of anything either. Oh, yes, he can meet new dogs and even cats, no problem.”
Perfect! That’s exactly what we want. Sadly though the puppy under discussion is 9 or 10 weeks old and unbeknownst to his owners, this tremendous level of curiosity and acceptance will disappear in a few short weeks unless the owners make a concerted effort to ensure that pup’s acceptance of all things new is nurtured. It is perfectly normal for a pup entering adolescence to become wary of all things strange and new. That’s why it it is so important to begin and continue to expose him to the new and different and reward him with praise for accepting them.
All young puppies accept new things. This acceptance will NOT continue without your help and encouragement.
What is true at 9 weeks will not be true at 13, 14, or 15 weeks. You have simply got to get your pup out into the world where he will meet new people, encounter other dogs, see skateboards, hear buses and cement trucks. I don’t necessarily think that one element of this is more important than any other but for me, who loves to walk with a dog, having a dog with me that couldn’t meet new people or new dogs would be simply awful!
And then there are those wonderful people who rescue a dog, find out it has all sorts of issues about meeting people and other dogs, and never stop working with the dog to make life better. Just a few moments ago, I met a woman and her rescue Schnauzer who likes people well enough but barks like crazy whenever she sees other dogs, especially small ones. Due to the incredibly high volume of traffic on the ferries today, this woman decided to walk on and thus would be spending the crossing in the ‘dog room’ on the lowest parking deck. We had already seen at least 3 other dogs who would be on the crossing and they had all walked close enough to set the Schnauzer off. I have the greatest of admiration for this woman who continued to ask the dog to be ‘Quiet’ and praise and treat her for doing just that. She knew she was in for a bit of a rough ride on the 40 minute crossing and nevertheless stayed calm and focused on her dog. I showed her the T-touch calming circles and ear slides. We could see immediately how they helped. Taking on a rescue is always a challenge. I applaud those who do!
No matter whether you get a puppy, an adolescent pup or a fully adult dog, if you want to take your dog with you with ease, socialization can never stop.
Take your pup everywhere, let him meet all sorts of new people and expose him to all the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful world.
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