Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,136 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
Denise Fenzi just shared this on her blog today: https://denisefenzi.com/2020/09/socialization-in-the-world-of-covid/

___________________________________________-

Socialization in the world of COVID

by Denise Fenzi | Sep 21, 2020 |

With many of us staying home these days, many people have considered getting a puppy. Of course, the very first question that comes to mind is, “How will I socialize them? Will they become shy or aggressive if they are unable to directly interact with strangers?”

I recently acquired a puppy and I have found some huge advantages to raising a puppy under quarantine! Not only do I have a new little buddy to keep me busy at home, but I have also discovered that I don’t have to worry about shielding him from overly enthusiastic people who are bound and determined to pet my puppy, regardless of his opinion (or mine!) on the matter.

Let’s start by re-defining socialization as exposure rather than interaction. People often think of socialization as being interactions with new dogs and people. Unfortunately, plenty of dogs end up so well socialized that they make a nuisance of themselves. They’re hyper greeters who cannot function if they are not allowed to interact with every dog and person they see. No greeting? They scream, whine, and pull frantically on their leashes towards the object of their desire – and show lots of frustration at being held back. And if you think about it, we taught them to do it by encouraging interactions with every dog and person they encountered!

However, they don’t typically do this with horses, cars, or loud noises, mostly because we don’t socialize our puppies to these things the way we do with people and dogs. Specifically, there is no expectation of interaction with the other. Instead, we use patience, and allow the dog’s natural curiosity and ability to gather information from a distance to allow them to habituate and feel safe at their own pace.

This is exactly how socialization should happen with everything – people and dogs included. Using this approach, think about exposing your young dog or puppy to a variety of confidence-building situations that will serve them well for life, but without a need for direct interaction.

As a guide to this plan, think about your dog’s senses: what does your dog see, hear, feel, smell, and taste?

What does your dog see? Take them places you need to go and sit in the car with your dog to watch the world go by! Watch the people entering the grocery store, the dogs walking around the block, the trees and birds and animals – whatever you know that your dog might encounter as an adult is fair game. Sitting in your car with your dog can be a fantastic way to experience the visual world.

What does your dog hear? The vacuum! The leaf blowers! The fan in the window! Be sure the sound is far enough away that the dog makes a positive association; we don’t want to scare them. It’s always okay to comfort your dog or move further away if they appear worried or distressed – same as you would with a toddler who was nervous of a sight or sound.

What does your dog feel? Consider surfaces that your dog might be exposed to. Put down towels, tarps, and empty boxes to let your dog explore! Hide treats in, on, and around those surfaces to add to the fun When you leave your house for exercise, make a point of walking over asphalt, cement, grass, and dirt. In all cases, you’ll want to make the experience fun and playful for your dog, so be generous with your personal play and praise as you navigate new surfaces.

What does your dog taste? Try out a variety of treats and foods for your dog! Give them interactive toys filled with their own food – not only does it keep them busy while you do other things, but it also exposes their mouth to both different textures of toys as well as the food itself.

As far as people and dogs, well, this is a great time to allow your dog to observe without interacting so they can gain confidence in the presence of other people and dogs without feeling the need to be petted by every random stranger. You may also find it quite helpful to cheerfully call out friendly greetings to people who pass you on the street. That allows your dog a chance to observe your comfort with the stranger and begin to use you as a source of information; if mom says it’s okay, then it must be okay!

Remember, exposure with a positive outcome is what matters, and that positive outcome can come from you. Simultaneously, you can set up simple puzzles and activities at home or in your garden to allow your dog to use all of their senses to get to know the world.

Your ultimate goal with socialization should be a dog who shows confidence in a variety of situations, and acceptance of the presence of random people without necessarily needing to visit. This approach to socialization emphasizes exposure over interaction, and may well work better for you now than at any other time! Your softer or more fragile dog will not be assaulted by overly enthusiastic friends and neighbors who often frighten much more than socialize, and your overly enthusiastic puppy won’t have that behavior reinforced by every random person encountered on the street.

On balance, this is a good time for many people to consider adding to their canine family, but a few adaptations are necessary with our current restrictions. Focus on exposing all of your dog’s senses to new possibilities to allow that growing brain as many positive experiences as possible.

When you have the occasional opportunity to allow your dog to interact with new people, go ahead and take it, but that does not need to be the focus of your socialization efforts. As long as your dog is able to observe the world, including the people within it, you’re likely to end up with a stable and well-adjusted adult who is comfortable in the world, but who has a strong preference for you as the primary playmate.
 

·
Super Moderator
Hairy Dog, RIP Caesar, Katana, Kip, Capri
Joined
·
24,838 Posts
Originally posted by MeadowCat:

I highly recommend a good puppy class. A good puppy class starts puppies off learning the very basics and how to focus in the presence of other dogs.


I would call NOW - some places have a waiting list. I would absolutely make a drive to have my puppy in a class, and would have a pup in a class right away - I don't wait until they are 16 weeks.

I'd also recommend doing a lot of walks with other dogs where you are simply together but not necessarily interacting. It's good for puppies to learn that they don't always play when they are with other dogs.

It's also super important to get pups out to places where they just observe the world. Places like Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc are dog friendly but aren't high traffic with other dogs.

Too often we think of "socialization" as exposing our dogs to other dogs, when it's really acclimating our puppies to being out in the world. I really like to just take puppies lots of places and let them experience life and have positive experiences. Make sure they do things like ride in elevators, go in a parking garage, watch kids play on a playground...and socialization is all ongoing.

Here's a good article about puppy classes:


Puppy Kindergarten Vs. Obedience Class: What’s The Difference?
June 30, 2016 jsummerfield8

"Today’s topic is one of the most common questions we get from new puppy owners at our training facility – what’s the point of puppy kindergarten? Can’t we just go ahead and put Buddy in obedience class, so he can start learning the important stuff?

I get it. I really do. Especially if Buddy is a large-breed dog, like a Labrador or a Great Dane, who will be capable of knocking over full-grown adults in a few short months without some training. It seems like a no-brainer that the earlier you start “real obedience,” the better off you’ll be… right?

Well. Like so many things in life, the answer is not that simple.

The truth is, I always cringe a little when I get these requests – I will allow owners to enroll in the class of their choice, but I feel strongly that it is not in Buddy’s best interest to skip ahead. Not because he isn’t smart enough to hang with the grown-ups, or because you aren’t committed enough to do “real” work with him, but for a much more important reason: developmentally, at this age, he has much bigger fish to fry.

Assuming that Buddy is less than 16 weeks old, he is still in his critical socialization period – learning about the world around him, what is normal and what isn’t. (See last week’s post on puppy socialization for more on this.) That means that his “to-do” list looks very different from a 6 or 12-month-old dog’s.

Here are some of the most important things we work on in puppy kindergarten, none of which are covered in our obedience classes for older dogs:


Playtime with other puppies

This is, without a doubt, most owners’ favorite part of puppy class! It’s difficult not to smile in a room full of puppies wrestling and chasing each other. But aside from being fun for everyone involved, off-leash interaction with other puppies is one of the most valuable educational aspects of a well-run puppy class.

At this age, puppies are still developing their canine social skills and learning how to interact appropriately with other dogs – including vital skills like polite dog-to-dog greeting behavior, being gentle with their teeth during play, and reading social cues to determine whether another puppy wants to play or be left alone. Without these skills, many pups grow up to be adults who have difficulty communicating normally with other dogs, putting them at high risk for anxiety or aggression in social situations.

Just as importantly, puppy playtime offers an unparalleled opportunity for owners to learn what appropriate play looks like. We discuss normal play vs. bullying, when and how to intervene if things become too rough, and how to identify good playmates for your puppy based on his/her play style.

One caveat – playtime should not be an unregulated free-for-all! A good puppy class instructor will monitor closely to make sure that puppies are well-matched during play, and separate the class into smaller play groups of 2-3 puppies each if needed. Healthy, appropriate play is very beneficial, but it is important to make sure that more energetic or assertive puppies are not allowed to harass others who may be more anxious or reserved. A cardinal rule of “good” play is that everyone should be having fun.


New objects and different surfaces

An often-overlooked aspect of socialization is exposure to physical things in the environment, not just people and other dogs. If you’ve ever had a dog who won’t walk on shiny floors, or who barks and growls at the neighbor’s garbage can, you’ll understand how important this is!

We make a special effort in our classes to let the pups see and interact with lots of funny objects – they learn to run through a crinkly plastic agility tunnel, hop on and off of a rubberized teeter board and other things that move, and practice getting onto a pretend “scale” to be weighed. By using lots of praise and treats, and allowing the pups to try things at their own pace, we can make these experiences fun and rewarding.


Handling and grooming

Ah… vet visits, grooming appointments, and nail trims. They’re not very flashy or exciting, but they will be a huge part of your dog’s life – so it pays to invest a little time and effort with young puppies to avoid problems down the line.

Sadly, I see dogs every day in the veterinary clinic who cower and shake (or become aggressive) over things as uneventful as having their ears looked at with an otoscope, or their paws handled for a nail trim. It breaks my heart, because no dog should experience so much stress and fear over a simple physical exam.

In class, we practice body handling and vet/grooming visits each week on a table. The puppies get treats for allowing us to open their mouth, touch their paws, lift their tails and palpate their bellies. Depending on each pup’s comfort level, we may progress to brushing teeth, cleaning ears, and trimming nails – all while the puppy munches happily on bits of chicken or cheese provided by a helper, relaxed and comfortable with the entire process.

Trust me when I say that more than almost anything else we teach, these skills are worth their weight in gold. Especially if your dog is a large breed, or one that requires a lot of grooming!



Ultimately, here is the bottom line: the single most vital lesson a puppy can learn is that the world is a safe place. That strangers mean him no harm, that other dogs are not scary, that grooming tools and exam tables are fun. It’s no exaggeration to say that this one lesson, if learned well, will make everything else you do with him for the rest of his life exponentially easier.

I see far more dogs who struggle, both in competition settings and in daily life, because of anxiety or reactivity issues than because they lack the obedience skills they need. If your adult dog is friendly, confident and well-adjusted, we can teach him obedience very easily. If, on the other hand, your dog is reactive towards strange people or other dogs, or so anxious about new environments that he can’t focus, learning anything new becomes dramatically more difficult.

So absolutely, train your dog. Manners are important! But first, let your puppy be a puppy – he has his whole life to learn how to heel, but only a few short weeks to figure out his place in a huge, confusing world.

Use those few weeks wisely."

From: Puppy Kindergarten Vs. Obedience Class: What?s The Difference? ? Dr. Jen's Dog Blog
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,136 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited by Moderator)
  • Like
Reactions: melbrod

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,136 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited by Moderator)

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,136 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited by Moderator)
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top