Saturday, 29 October 2011

Socializing dogs

It's no secret that socialization is something I need to work on with my dogs. Jess is alright but she's too nervous to play (but who am I kidding, she rarely plays anyway) but there is times she gets incredibly nervous and her hair will rise. As she's such a fair colour this makes her look like a skunk as the hair that rises turns an orangey - brown so it's pretty obvious to people around that she's not entirely happy in certain situations.

Which is why I am very happy I went on today. They have some fabulous ideas on how to make a dog happier around other dogs:

Socializing an Adult or Older Dog with Other Dogs

Take Your Dog Out to Observe
  1. Go to a dog park but don't go in.
  2. Allow your dog to watch the other pups and observe their behavior.
  3. Every time a dog comes near the fence, give your dog a treat. This creates a positive association with other dogs.
  4. If your dog reacts aggressively towards the dogs in the park, move further away and slowly move up until he is quiet.
Resist Tugging While Walking
When out walking and another dog comes into view, resist jerking on the lead and yelling at your dog. This reinforces seeing other dogs as a negative experience. Instead, distract your dog with a treat or toy, use the command "Watch me!" and praise him when he pays attention to you.
Go to Obedience Class
Dog obedience class is a great way to help socialize an adult dog before attempting going into dog parks or having playdates. Because your dog is learning commands, he is distracted most of the time. Speak to your trainer about the issue and she can help you introduce your dog slowly to other dogs in the class. This is also a safe place for your dog to learn to interact with other humans.
Socializing an Adult Dog with Humans
The first step is to socialize your dog with your family. This is best done slowly and patience is a virtue here. Dogs and humans speak a different language so you'll both be learning how to communicate.
Ignore Your Dog
When your dog runs to hide from you, don't go after him and pull him from under the bed. Ignore him and do something that will persuade him to come out like playing with his toys or frying up some bacon. Dogs are curious and social creatures and they'll eventually become bored and lonely by themselves. Reward him with a bit of that bacon when he comes out.
Be Casual
It's sort of like when your teenager comes down the stairs with an enormous pimple on her forehead. You don't mention it and act as if there's nothing wrong. By acting as if your dog's behavior is no big deal, you're creating a calmer environment and, thus, a calmer dog. So when he streaks under your legs because the postman is at the door, go on about your business as usual.
Introduce People Slowly
Only add one person a week at the most into your dog's life. When they meet your dog, have them offer a treat and speak in a happy, low, encouraging voice. You don't want to use a high pitch which could excite him. Keep your dog on a leash at first but do not force him to go near the person. Let him take his time.
The main thing to remember when socializing an adult dog is to be positive and to make each new experience a good one with praise and treats. Corrections do not work well here and will likely will create a more nervous dog. In time, your new companion will become at ease at home and in public and will truly be a member of the family.

All credit to dogster for the above!

I am without a doubt going to give the above a go. I think the first few bulletin points are perfect for Jess. Of course, as Molly is quite fearful which makes her bark I think I'd need to do a lot more than the above but hopefully one day.

Molly has improved though, I can get her past dogs with no barking or lunging BUT if the other dog acts aggressively towards her she then retaliates and barks back. I won't give up though!

                                                                                  ... and no post is complete without a picture :-)

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