Excerpt from Rover, Get Off Her Leg
What to Do When Socializing You Dog:
Your dog should meet people of every possible description, size, shape, and colorpeople wearing hats, people with eyeglasses, people with beards, and whatever else you can think of to be sure he's socialized to everyone and everything. Take him to a strip mall to walk him, and be sure to supervise his encounters with people so the experiences are always good. Riding in the car will be fun if he knows that he has happy experiences when he goes for rides. Let him walk with you in the city to see and hear buses, airplanes, and trains, as well as in the quieter countryside. He should be accustomed to all sorts of sights and sounds. There's nothing better than a well-socialized dog, a companion you don't have to leave at home or lock in another room when company arrives.
Don't leave your dog at home all the time, only taking him to the veterinarian or the groomer. How can you expect him to enjoy a ride in the car if the only times he's in one is to go somewhere to be prodded, poked, bathed, combed, brushed, and so on? Sure, you can tell him he's going with you on vacation and talk about the beach or the lake until you're blue in the face. But if he hasn't experienced it, he won't understand that good things happen to good dogs when they go in the car. Also, don't yell at him because he won't get in the car. And don't coddle him and call him your 'widdle baby cakes,' or he's going to think everything is a monster fromwhich only you can protect him.
Don't flood your puppy or adopted dog with too many experiences at once. Go slowly. You have a lifetime together, and you don't want to frighten him. He's learning, whether he's a new pup coming into your home, an older rescue dog, or a dog you've raised all or most of his life. The process will still be the same. The main difference is that the rescue dog will probably come with baggage, and I don't mean a suitcase full of toys. I mean problems, especially if he has been abused. This makes it even more important for you to be patient, consistent, and loving.
Socialization is very important, but don't do it all at once! Flooding any dogbut especially a rescue dogwith too many new experiences at once will only confuse and frighten him, and that's exactly what you don't want to do. Adopting an older dog or taking in a rescue is giving that dog a new lease on life, and these dogs seem so much more grateful to have a loving home.
No matter how old your dog is or when you got him, he may have behavior problems. The point of this book is to help you avoid them or resolve those already in place. With your older or adopted dog, go back to what you would have done if he were a puppy and start there. For example, things like housetraining take less time with an older dog since he has adult kidneys and can 'hold it' longer than a puppy. You can do a wonderful job of socializing an older dog if you remember, just as with the new pup, not to flood him with too many experiences at once. He, too, is just learning about life in your household.
The Dos and Don'ts of Doggie Playdates
To get your dog used to being around other dogs, you can take him to a dog park or arrange a play date with another dog of the same size and age, one that you know is friendly. Let dogs meet each other on canine terms: allow them to sniff each other and to play together. Because you don't want them fighting over toys or bones, you're really better off without such items. However, if you do bring a toy, bring one for each dog. Do not, however, bring a toy to a dog park because a toy can set off a resource guarding fight. Only bring a toy to privately arranged play dates with a friend, and be sure everyone is supervising very carefully.
Although most dogs love to run and tussle together, make sure rough-and-tumble play is confined to dogs of the same size. Even though they may be the same age, a smaller canine can be injured, even accidentally, by a larger one. Supervise the play, and be sure that one dog isn't bullying the other. You may hear lots of growls that sound vicious. Most people mistake these play sounds for genuine problems. They're not. The dogs are play-fighting. Watch their body language carefully to see that your dog is relaxed. If you want to know if your dog is stressed, look for such body language as lip licking, head turning, yawning when he's not tired, or licking his feet incessantly. If your dog runs away from a group of dogs, he's telling you that he's stressed and needs to relax. Keep him away from the other dogs and help him relax by first relaxing yourself.
Remember that your dog is reading your body language every minute. While you're trying to relax, suck on a mint because that will mask any signs of your stressed body chemistry. The dog's nose knows! Watch to see any danger signs that the play is becoming more aggressive. If one dog is aggressive or a bully, try to distract them from each other before you find yourself in the dangerous position of trying to break up a dog fight. It's always best to scope out a dog park in advance without your dog. Watch to see who is there and how well they supervise their dogs. Go at different times and different days to see who shows up when and which group will best suit you and your dog.
©2007. Darlene Arden. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Rover, Get off Her Leg! No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.