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Old 02-07-2010, 06:14 PM   #1
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Default Info: Socializing a New Dog

It is critical to socialize puppies to prevent future confidence issues in new situations. It's also important to gradually expose a newly adopted older dog to the world out there. Many options are available to perform this important step in development.

One such place is puppy or obedience classes run by experienced trainers who do a good job managing the social aspect. Generally puppies and dogs here will be healthy, and as up to date on vaccines as possible. This controlled environment minimizes hazardous exposures and if the class is well run the socializing will be well monitored and guided so that the pups and dogs have a positive experience and are shown how to behave around others. Trainers can also offer advice by direct observation if there is a potential problem developing such as timidity. Dealing with it early and correctly the first time can save a number of headaches.

Dogparks can be ok for an older dog that is fully vaccinated as long as you watch closely to see how your new pal is handling things and they are not being overwhelmed or bullied. Be careful about the dogs who are there as sometimes owners of other dogs allow rude behavior, and occasionally fights can break out. This can damage a dog and set it back socially, especially if there is a bad history for a newly adopted dog. Puppies really should not be exposed to a crowd of unknown dogs before their shots are complete. Running them in this type of park can expose them to highly harmful even deadly diseases during a vulnerable time. So take care.

Walks and pet stores are a wonderful way to practice appropriate leash manners around other dogs and people. Just watch how other dogs are approaching yours and kept your dog out of trouble. And don't let them start to develop bad behaviors such as jumping up on people. Also be observant of your dogs comfort level. If they are getting stressed don't push them. Gradually build up their ability to see new things. Be careful about other dogs with under-vaccinated puppies as these dogs may not be fully vaccinated. Just like a dogpark there is a risk of exposure.

Doggy Daycare can be fine for a dog who is already outgoing and social--HOWEVER, it is not the place to start with a timid/unsocial dog and generally not the best place to start with a puppy. With both these cases it is much better for you to be present at least for some initial formation of a bond. If the dog or pup is timid, after some basic work with you in coming out of their shell so they are not overwhelmed by greeting other dogs, then daycare can help ease them out even more. Keep in mind, some dogs regardless of how much good social situations they experience will never be social butterflies. Thus, not every dog will enjoy being in a group of dogs romping around off-lead. Forcing dogs into something like this can serve to make them withdraw more and in some cases make them fearfully aggressive. If you have just gotten your dog from a rescue take some time to bond and get to know them, don't just bring them to daycare the next day.

Whatever you decide to do, take the time to observe your new companions ability to handle the environment. Work within your dog/pups comfort zone, build up their tolerance slowly and positively celebrating each success. This way over time they will have the best chance of navigating the world without being overly stressed.
Training--the key to unlocking every dog's greatest potential. Have you unlocked your dog yet?
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Ion-CGC, Therapy Dog, RN, NA, NAJ
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