I was in Johns Creek last Thursday with a new Home Dog Training client and his Goldendoodle named Norman. Norman had just turned three months old and was beginning to feel his oats. Our training session turned out great and my client rapidly discovered that once he took over the “mommy” role in which he gave Norman a sense of safety and the establishment of a lifelong bond, everything would be perfect.
He was excited and enthusiastically eager to work on the exercises we practiced and guidelines we put into place. I told him that this was all fantastic, but he had one more, very important job to perform with Norman.
Proper behavior and respectful obedience are very important tasks when it comes to a dog’s training. When we are dealing with puppies, a larger and more significant task involves socialization. All the proper knowledge and focused training in the world is completely useless if you are completely nuts and petrified of the environment in which you are living. This is where socialization becomes so important.
When we were young, our mommy took us to the grocery store, drove us in the car, brought us to her friends, registered us in school, made play dates with the other kids in the neighborhood, etc. Our mommy actively exposed us to all these “soon to be” real life experiences when we were still very young.
Our mommy was trying to get us used to the world around us. We needed to get used to what things looked like and how things smelled. We needed to get used to how things happened when we were out and about. It was critical that we got used to intermingling with other creatures like us. The more we “got used” to what was normal, the more relaxed we became with our environment and what we were to expect. On the other hand, if we abruptly came across a situation that we were not used to, we could retreat to a point of safety and properly evaluate the situation. This is our natural “engine warning light” telling us to take care and protect ourselves.
Our puppies, like us, need to be properly socialized so that they can understand when they are safe and secure and when there may be a problem. We must direct them to encounter the world in which they will live so that they will know how to act and how to defend themselves.
I always tell my clients to take several days just logging their standard, daily actions. They should document who they encounter, where they travel, the noises they hear, times they are at specific locations, etc. After they have finished doing this, they must start to include their new puppy with every one of those experiences.
This is a process and not a race. They should not try to take their puppy everywhere and do everything the very first day or two. It takes time for their puppy to properly learn and adapt.
During every external event, they should keep their puppy near them on a leash. The moment they observe their puppy start to become nervous or lose focus on them, they should give him a little nudge to regain his attention. This act of redirected focus encourages their puppy to understand that everything is fine.
They should continue this process with their entire list until the puppy is comfortable with their environment and everything around him. At this point, they can extend their socialization training to activities where they are not always present with the puppy.
These actions could include puppy day care sessions or having a family member baby-sit when they go out for dinner. It is critical that all this starts out slow and only progresses based upon success. They should always have the ability to return to their puppy “if things start not to go well”. All this means is that they proceeded a little to quickly and should slow down the process.
I explained to my client that socialization is a continuous process that proceeds through the extent of Norman’s life. As long as he retains control of the situation and always provides a safe learning experience, all will be fine
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.