Dog behaviour is closely related to dog socialization: if you socialize your dog at an early age, your dog will grow into an independent, fearless and happy dog. Following are 5 tips on how to deal with your dog’s socialization which will improve your dog behaviour.
1. Do not drag your dog to the object or the person of which he is afraid of.
Let your dog to approach the person or object on its own. If you must – consider the possibility of using you dog’s favorite toy or something to help her overcome its fear. The more you will force your dog into a situation where it does not feel comfortable, the more your dog will behave fearfully and apprehensively. If your dog does not want to get closer, wait another day or another opportunity to encourage him.
2. Do not pet your dog when it is scared.
I know it sounds cruel, but this way things get worse, because this is positive reinforcement for a bad dog behaviour. For example, if your dog runs away and hides under the chair when you go to the vet, and you tell him, Come on, baby, it’s all ok … you just taught your dog it will be rewarded when he is afraid and hides under the chair. Instead, you should talk calmly and confidently when he comes out from under the chair, showing him to be rewarded for being brave and confident.
3. Do hold your puppy in your arms if he is afraid.
Again, do not reinforce negative dog behaviour. A small dog will be small, no matter how much it grows – teach him to face the world from its height, not from yours. The exception to this rule, of course, is when your small dog is going to be a snack to a much bigger and aggressive dog. In this case, saving your dog is a must!
4. Behave and speak in calmly and reassuringly.
Your dog takes example from you. If you are nervous and apprehensive, in a given situation, even your dog will be. If you act as if what you do or come across is not anything serious, even your dog will see it that way. As I mentioned in the post where I explained how to learn to read your dog’s body language, this is a two-way street : even your dog learns to read your body language. You dog will rely on you for important information about how it should behave. Remember that you are the pack leader – if you are calm and confident your dog will act accordingly. If you are nervous and apprehensive so will he . The leaders lead, followers follow. You lead, your dog follows you.
5. Bring your dog in as many places as possible.
More positive experiences will make your dog more secure and will help him accept new experiences. If your dog is afraid of the vet because every time you take it there it gets an injection, take the commitment to pass by the vet, let the vet give it a biscuit and let it go up on the scale. Soon your dog will learn that going to the vet does not necessarily mean getting an injection. The more you put your dog in different social situations, the less impact these will have on him. It is the fear of the unknown, or fear of a previous negative experience that keeps your dog in a state of apprehension. The more frequently your dog learns to deal with certain situations, the faster the novelty will disappear and these new situations will become a routine. Just think what would happen if you took kids to Six Flags for the first time – they would look around, trying to see everything at once, running from side to side, so excited that they would be out of control. But after the child has been to Six Flags 10 or 20 times, the novelty disappears, and the child is ready for something new. For your dog it is the same, only that for him the whole world is like Six Flags. Guide your dog around your surroundings and he will react calmly and with security in every situation.
Here are twenty things you should introduce your dog to at young age which will have an enormous impact on your dog behaviour.
1 The sounds of your dog’s world – cars, trucks, helicopters, sirens, door bells, people, airplanes, telephones – any sound you can hear on a regular basis.
2 Children (how many and what age depends upon the size, breed and personality of your dog)
3 People of any age, ethnicity, gender, appearance and with different voice levels.
4 Puppies (only after your dog has completed all its vaccinations)
5 Older dogs (only after your dog has completed all its vaccinations)
6 Other animals you might encounter – rabbits, squirrels, horses, cows, birds and cats.
7 Electrical equipment, such as the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher, tv, stereo.
8 Garden tools – saws, leaf-blowers and other similar tools.
9 Everyday life objects in different locations: the garbage bag that stands up one day because it is full and lying on one side the next day, the ironing board which is open one day and closed the next day .. .
10 Shopping carts and strollers
11 Beach balls, basketball, tennis and Frisbee
12 Cars and trucks, whether parked or in motion
13 Stairs and bridges
14 Places like the beach, the mountains or the city sidewalks
15 Go to the airport and watch the planes land and take off, or at the station and wait for trains
16 The veterinarian, grooming shop for dogs, the pet store
17 The friend’s house
18 Outdoor sporting events or dog races
19 People on the move – cyclists, skaters, people who are jogging, people in wheelchairs or on crutches
This list is obviously not exhaustive – it is a partial list designed to give you an idea and get you started on the right foot
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