Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Farmington Hills, Michigan
Socialization can be a challenge when you live in a rural area, but that is the answer. When I bring a puppy home, socialization is the singel most important thing we work on. Almost every day the pup gets in the vehicle and we go somewhere.
The most important thing is to ensure he does not have a bad experience. That is your number one job as his protector.
Try to avoid feeding before a trip in the vehicle for obvious reasons. Start socializing in a pedestrian area where there are some people/dogs, and walk him through, such that he sees all the other activity, but it isn't crowding his space. After a period (several visits) where he becomes accustom to this, then position yourself such that while walking, folks have to pass a bit closer, and maybe even crowd his space a bit....again, after several visits with this tpye of nearness....then get to the point where maybe you can ask a person to pet your dog. Place him in a sit, and ask if they will simply approach at first. If he appears uncomfortable, then leave it at an approach and conversation with the person.....again, repeat this with as many volunteers you can capture. Eventually, as he becomes comfortable with this, you may eventually get to where someone can reach over and pat his head.
Frequent visits to public areas, with incremental increases in exposure/pressure over time (this is not accomplished in one visit) as the dog demonstrates he can take it and remain comfortable...all the while, you are making sure he has no bad experiences, as this would set him back and do harm.
When I have a pup, I examine them all the time, nothing in life is free, so if my pup wants a treat, they have to endure me running my fingers through their toes, or examining ears, or opening the mouth as if to administer a pill. On the frequent vehicle trips, we'll swing by the Vets office, take a weight check on the scale (both of us!), have a high value treat, and just socialize with the staff that have white coats on....all fun, no bad experience.....no negative association with the visit. Do this often enough and you'll have a dog that is excited to go to the Doc's office.
Small, slow, measured & controlled steps, and you'll cultivate the nerve of your dog.
Dealing with dog aggression is another issue, and you may need some professional assistance.
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