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.
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My old girl BC Rook was ‘forced to socialized, was pushed to do things she was not at all ready for. I feel absolutely terrible it use have felt so horrible and such a betrayal on my part. I followed the instructions I was given. Poor anxious girl
My new pup 6 month old is very easy going loves everyone everydog. He will be used in part as a nurse Dog helping scared and shy dogs and I also do many housesits so I want it to be easy with dogs and cats.
Because my. Liners have adult dogs I thought it would be good tonenroll him in puppy socials. The first time went well the second time I pulled him out and worked on the periphery. The trainer was luring right and left there was treats and cheese everywhere although I had taken the time to say I was not interested in training and that he had an obsession to food so no offering of food. In addition there was a reactive puppy and it is the only time to this day I saw Johnny get reactive back. I was furious
I never go to Dog parks because of fights and it’s totally boring to me. And I never believed dogs need”friends” once they are comfortable with the life they will lead.
This is going against the grain and I’m glad to know my intuition is supported by others
You are always so sensible. It is a pleasure to read your blog.
Illegitimi non carborundum
I’m a puppy raiser for GDB and your approach to socialization is exactly what is wanted in a service dog. Accept the environment calmly with no need to interact with it.
Totally agree! Love your articles!
If all you wrote were the popular assumptions of the herd then you wouldn’t be you.
Write truthfully of the reality you’ve experienced; take it or leave it people.
I honestly don’t see what the controversy is about. This is a perfectly reasonable approach for socializing puppies. I don’t need my dog to interact or play with every dog or person they meet either. I want their attention to mainly be on me, and a “sniff and go” greeting is just fine. Puppies don’t have to be forced to love every dog and human that they meet, especially if that’s not the puppy’s preference.
Denise, I read your first post on socialization as well, and share that link with my clients off. I agree with your approach. There may be too much emphasis now places on need for puppy interaction, which often causes more problems than it solves behaviorally as puppies so often become over stimulated or anxious in classes or day care situations. I have been called to work with more than a few dogs and pups who have been asked to leave classes or the play groups because of that. I have also been asked to work with dogs who have become very reactive after bad experiences in groups with other dogs. IF people want to bring their dogs to classes or parks or day programs, it is important that they are strong advocates, that the pups interact for very short times before given rests or breaks, and that each experience is pleasant for the puppies or dogs. Thank you for all you do!
Oh my gosh, I should have proof read the comment above. Typos! So sorry. “Off” should be “often” and should be “too much emphasis that now places the need…”
Totally agree with you, in my puppy classes we don’t want them interacting with other pups, we want the handler to be the most important thing to them.
I prefer to call it desensitisation, not socialising.
Exposure to as much as possible including different surfaces, situations etc.