People, Dogs, Socialization...
-Often dog owners have this fantasy fairy tale that their dogs want to meet and say hello to every person and every dog they see. Let’s start thinking and put ourselves in our dogs’ position. As humans, we don’t get along with everyone, we don’t want to talk to everyone we come across (at the super market, at the bank, at work etc)…same goes for our dogs. Our dogs don’t want to meet all humans and dogs when they are out in the real world. Depending on the dog’s demeanor and the amount of pressure they can handle, it can be very uncomfortable when strange people and unknown dogs enter their personal space. Humans often push their dogs and put their dogs in situations that makes their dogs feel uneasy. What if a stranger came up to you and invaded your space?
-So when, where and how should we socialize our dogs? It needs to be done in a controlled environment with people you trust/know and with balanced dogs that are CALM. Why? Because you know each other, you know the dogs, you know you can control the situation if needed and you can advocate for each and every dog.
Where can you socialize your dog? Anywhere. When you take your dog out in public on a patio and he lays by your feet in a down-stay, he is being social and well-mannered watching the world go around. Socializing doesn’t mean they have to interact, dogs enjoy just a little sun-bathe too.
-Dog parks are a No Go for socialization. Why? Because most people there lack basic knowledge of "dog". They don’t know their own dog, they don't know how to read dog body language and most dogs there are untrained with rushes of Adeline, excitement, arousal etc. The perfect recipe for a disaster.
-We don’t allow dogs to meet other dogs or people when we are on a structured walk. Hence the STRUCTURED walk. We want our dogs to be fully tuned-in to us…the walk is a mission between owner and dog. The more structured the walk, the more tired and exhausted your dog will be mentally, the more important you become.
-The reason why we never let dogs meet other dogs on the first day when they get dropped off, is because we want to be fair, not only to our dogs but to the client’s dogs. They are new to each other and they need time to unwind and settle in their new environment and to us. When the dogs’ minds settle, they are calmer and they trust us, then we start doing slow intros. (the new dog is on a 6 ft leash while Cubbie and Indie are off leash). This way, I have a handle on the new guy and I can fully advocate for him if Indie and Cub put too much ‘pressure’ on the dog. The introductions are always polite, the dogs don’t rush to smell each other and we guide the dog to properly greet (which is to go butt sniffing instead of face to face sniffs).