Socialization in the US is done very wrong, which has resulted in a lot of reactive, aggressive, and fearful dogs. Dog-to-dog socialization is wholly overdone, whereas socialization with the the environment is severely incomplete.
Only an extremely small part of socalization is dog to dog. As a matter of fact, too much dog to dog soclization (daycares, dog parks, and similar) can cause serious fallout including hyperactive behavior, bad manners, and failure to focus on their owners because they are always looking for the next dog to play with. That can result in frustration, which can then turn into reactivity (barking and lunging on leash). A large number of reactive dogs are completely great with other dogs off-leash, and over-socialization is often why. Additionally, daycares exacerbate these issues greatly and we STRONGLY recommend avoiding them completely!
When socializing your dog with the environment, be sure not to force them to confront their fears (it will make fear worse & potentially permanent) and watch their body language to insure they aren't stressed. Refer to graphic for stress signals (click it for larger image).
Additional Recommended Reading
Don't skip the warmups! These serve to turn your dog's thinking cap on!
- Foundation Recall
- Chase recalls
- Focus Trees
- Puppy Pushups (sit, down, sit)
See video for the exercise progression.
Laying a strong foundation for stays in puppyhood will pay off ten-fold later on.
- For clarity purposes, use a mat that is at least 2" tall and a good size for your dog to lay on. Using their cot/dog bed is often perfect.
- Before telling your dog to Stay, know your Release Cue. Release cues can be anything (free dog, break, release, etc). However, we strongly discourage the word "okay." We use too often in our everyday language, which could have unfavorable consequences.
- Keep it brief! Puppies are not capable of long stays. Set them up for success by keeping it only a few seconds long, no more.
- Place treats directly on the mat, NOT in your dog's mouth. "Feeding the mat" stabilizes behavior.
- Don't add distance until your dog masters at least a 30 second stay with you near.
- If dog fails, it tells us that we are progressing too fast. Increase rewards, decrease duration & distance.
Teaching our dogs a rock-solid recall (coming when called), including building confidence to come through things that might be scary or bizarre.
At home, use a hallway where your dog can't go around the distractions to get to you (but if they do go around, still reward them for coming!).
Place bizarre, though safe, objects for your dog to run over or through. Challange yourself to come up with as many unique things to recall your dog over as you can!
Heeling with a nose-touch
Decrease pulling when walking!
There are many ways to teach heeling and we like to offer you a variety. We encourage you to utilize many techniques we offer, to keep your dog guessing!
You've already tought the Nose Touch. We add it to heeling by walking forward only a couple steps, stop, ask for a nose touch. Keep your dog guessing as to how many steps you take, but don't take too many or your dog will check out!
Sit politely for petting!
For your dog to learn that pets only happen when they are sitting (or at least four-on-the-floor).
We are building off our Sit to Say Please exercise learned previously.
1) Sit your dog and stay your dog.
2) Have someone approach you and your dog and ask to pet your dog.
3) Allow that person to pet your dog as long as your dog remains four-on-the-floor (they should start seated, but may stand when the petting has begun).
4) If your dog jumps, the person petting them should stop petting them, cross their arms, completely ignore them, and wait for them to return to four-on-the-floor before starting to pet them again.
It is of the utmost importance that the person petting does not engage with the dog if they jump, including not telling the dog no, off, down, sit, etc. Any interaction, even negative interaction, is attention that your dog is seeking. The very best way to stop them form jumping is to take away the thing they want most-- interaction.
Hula hoop leave-it weave
Teach your dog to leave objects alone on the floor, including food and toys. This exercise also serves as great focus and heeling practice too!
Using a short visual barrier like hula hoops, place tempting objects inside.
1) With your dog on leash, warm up with some Focus trees and heeling, then begin to heel your dog around the objects.
2) Should your dog go for the objects, do a foundation recall, using gentle leash guidance to steer them away from the leave-it, then reset up.
Treat drop leave-it
Have your puppy leave things, even after they hear the sound of it hitting the floor.
It is best to have your dog on leash, just in case you need to offer gentle guidance away from a leave-it (no leash jerks though).
1) Warmup with fist and floor leave-it's.
2) Hold several low value treats in your hand close to the floor & individually drop them. Be sure they don't roll far, so you can cover them if your dog goes for them. Reward your dog for leaving things on the floor with higher value treats!
3) Increase the difficulty by increasing the distance you drop the treats form the floor. Be careful that your dog never gets the treats, however!