How Do I Socialize My Puppy?
**Note** In some places, this article assumes that your puppy is clicker-conditioned (meaning, he knows that a click on a clicker announces that amazing delicious treats are coming, and he runs to you to collect them).
Clicker conditioning your puppy is SO beneficial for so many reasons! We help clicker condition puppies from the Austin, TX area at our home based boutique dog training facility. It’s often easier for someone else to start this for the puppy owner.
Clicker conditioning your puppy helps clarify their learning experiences, and can even change the way your puppy feels about something. They will go from being scared or uncertain, to being quite happy and enthusiastic.
At the bottom of this article we have links to some videos we made about how to clicker condition your puppy.
What IS Puppy Socialization?
First, Let’s start with some things that socialization is NOT (this is the the DO NOT list):
Socialization is NOT letting every human you cross pet and pick up your puppy
Socialization is NOT letting every dog you see greet and interact with your puppy
These are the two biggest mistakes commonly made while raising and “socializing” a puppy.
At Dog4Life Training, we specialize in socializing Austin, TX area puppies properly! Click here to get started now with safe puppy socialization that will give your puppy the best start possible.
Primary Objectives of Socialization: We want to raise a confident, happy, and resilient adult dog.
This translates to a dog who:
is not easily fazed or startled
can handle unexpected or unfamiliar events
can withstand a reasonable amount of social and physical pressure (such as a vet examination) well
and can bounce back quickly from startling or frightening things.
A dog like this is mentally sound, balanced, and healthy.
If you accidentally do the DO NOT list above, you may inadvertently create:
an extremely nervous, defensive dog.
A dog who, while young, had no autonomy over his own body.
A dog who was overly manhandled, whose signals of discomfort were completely ignored or overridden because his fear and uncertainty meant “he just needs more exposure to this.”
This can create a dog who is fear aggressive, or simply very afraid.
We want to raise an environmentally neutral dog. (This part is the MOST overlooked!) This means, we want our dog to see and experience things without losing their ever-loving minds.
We want to be able to walk our dogs through a street market or busy park (for example at Barton Springs or through The Domain) and have the dog show curiosity without feeling compelled to interact with their surroundings. They can watch and absorb their environment without losing focus on their handler.
If you do the DO NOTS listed above, you could create a social MONSTER who, when he sees another human or dog, simply cannot be contained.
This dog has zero impulse control, and has been raised to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that every human and dog on earth is here especially for him to greet and interact with. “Oh, he’s just so friendly!” Yes… he is.
But he’s also completely unable to focus, which makes bringing this dog into public very unfun.
Additionally, his “friendliness” could start a dog fight quite easily. As this dog rushes in to greet another dog during his walk, his past experiences have led him to believe that all these dogs are perfectly happy to have him bowl into them like a little ball of enthusiasm, with no restraint. The thing is… he isn’t little anymore. And his enthusiasm is generally quite disrespectful of the other dog’s signals. This dog is so consumed by what he wants and expects to receive, that he’s not concerned at all about how the other dog is feeling.
Dogs will put up with a lot from a young puppy that they absolutely will not stand for from an adolescent or adult dog.
Click here to continue reading about Socializing Your Puppy in our article on Socialization vs. Flooding - link to that article here, on the site
For more information on clicker conditioning for your puppy in the Austin, TX area, we made some videos that will help: