You’d think I would’ve said all I want to say on this topic.
And the truth is, I have. Here is my primary post on how I approach socialization. I have looked it over and I am still comfortable with what I wrote there.
And yet I am informed that I have come out against socialization.
I’m okay with people not reading carefully but if you don’t read with care then should you comment or go way beyond anything I ever said, and then attribute it to me? It doesn’t seem like a good idea to create divisions where none exist.
Let’s recap my thoughts on socialization. What I have always said both publicly and privately. How I raise my own dogs.
I am in favor of socialization. I always have been.
My definition of socialization is exposure that may or may not involve interaction. It just depends. It depends on the dog and the “thing” and the handler and the dog’s likely future. I believe the use of toys or food is completely optional in socialization and I do not use them myself anymore unless I have a training interest. But if I have a training interest, then it’s not socialization; it’s training, or some specific intervention that I am performing to change behavior. This HAS changed as a result of some observations I have made about my past choices.
I bring food and toys when I take my dog on outings. I find that useful just in case I might want to do some training. You might do something else.
You’re ” disappointed” in my choices. Can we accept that two perfectly rational people might come to different conclusions about similar events? This is nothing to be disappointed about. It simply disagreement.
But you say it’s different if I say it because I influence people!
I believe that I influence people because over time, I have demonstrated a sensible approach to dogs that works for people, and they appreciate my point of view. If you’re an influencer, excellent. Give your point of view. But make sure you don’t misrepresent mine. I’ll take equal care with you. Really – I will.
Consider what I say and I’ll consider what you say! I change my mind all the time based on other people’s comments. But not always. Presumably that’s because we’ve had different life experiences. We’ve seen and experienced different things that shape our choices.
I think socialization is important. Dogs need to see things! I think too much socialization is just as bad as too little. Puppies have short attention spans, so ideally socialization is simply woven into the dog’s life. What is that dog’s future going to look like? Socialization should reflect that. In small doses that the dog can manage.
I don’t go to puppy classes. I have never gone to puppy classes. That is because my dogs are going to have a future which has nothing to do with interacting with other people’s novel dogs – it is not because I do dog sports. If I did go to puppy classes I would do my own stuff on the edges. I much prefer that my dog focus on me in the presence of novel dogs and people in public – That makes sense for me, my dogs, and my lifestyle. I have different expectations in my home so I socialize them differently there.
In my home, I ask strangers to ignore my puppy when they enter. When everything is calm, then they are welcome to interact if they want to. And if the dog wants to. And if not? That’s fine too.
I love the idea of being able to walk down the street, greet the occasional person, allow our dogs to greet quickly or not at all, and get on with my life. I’m not a fan of meeting and greeting every person or dog that I encounter. That’s my opinion.
Now how about you? What is your future with your dog? Do you plan on letting your adult dog socialize with other dogs at the dog park? Then you should probably practice that as a puppy. How you accomplish that is up to you, but if that sounds like it’s your future? Great! My dog socialize within their family and with dogs they know, so I have no need. This does not make them reactive, anymore than they are reactive of the horses that we see on the street – they’re totally fine. They don’t interact with them either – they see and accept them via exposure. Socialization.
So far, so good. Create a plan that works for your needs. I won’t argue with you about it.