Everyone loves a friendly dog and it is highly important to keep a dog or a puppy sociable and loving always. It not only makes them feel good about themselves but also helps in creating a positive environment. While it is easy to train a puppy in its initial days because they are small and easy to tame, a full-fledged dog if not sociable can get a little tricky to tame. But nothing is impossible and similarly, you can even make a grown dog socialize.
Some of the necessary terms one must know before providing training to the dogs
- AGGRESSIVE NATURE AND AGGRESSION
A dog isn’t aggressive but his constant barking, growling, snapping, and biting is a result of fear-based aggression. As a normal human who just owns a dog, it is easy to label him as aggressive, but as a fellow trainer, you need to know its specifics and understand why this behavior existed in the first place.
- FEARFUL CHARACTER AND ANXIOUS MIND
Dogs might be fearful of one particular thing like people in general but when a dog is scared of everything around him, even if it is a small stone on the ground which is shiny, it could result in anxiety. The trainers need to be aware and clear whether their dog is scared or anxious.
- CRITICAL INTERACTION PERIOD
The puppies when they are around 3 weeks to 3 months old are very small and their brain isn’t equipped to register big terms and thoughts like anxiety, fear, aggression, etc. This is the time their brain isn’t hard-wired like an adult dog and it gets very important to train them about what’s scary and what’s not, and keep them close to their mothers.
- SOCIAL CONNECTION
Socialization isn’t limited to meeting new dogs and puppies but it also includes how they perceive different sounds, sights, objects, situations, people, etc. The best way to train your puppy to socialize is to just let him out and experience everything and explore it all on its own. With big and fearful dogs, it might take time but you will get there.
Trigger stacking is a phenomenon in which your dog will imagine other dogs being walked by men wearing hats. This is something that ticks them off and they get scared. This usually happens only when your dog has been through any stressful or scary situations. These are the triggers you need to identify in your dog.
The distance and intensity where your dog loses it are called a threshold. It could be 4 yards or 10 yards and this depends on whether a sound or a sight is his trigger. Trigger stacking can make thresholds more dangerous and impactful.
- DESENSITIZATION HYGIENE AND COUNTERCONDITIONING
Desensitization is when you expose your dog to the conditions it previously used to be scared of but it doesn’t tick them off anymore. Counterconditioning is when you desensitize a dog by offering an incentive with it like tasty dog food or something they like.
Why Do Dogs Behave Aggressively?
There are a lot of factors that contribute to making your dog aggressive. Some of them are:
- BREED – The breed of your dog determines a lot of things. If the dog you own is of the protection kind of breed, made to be suspicious of other people and things, they might end up getting aggressive. Whereas small and cute dogs meant for being a normal pet usually stay friendly.
- ADVERSE LIFE EXPERIENCE – Dogs go through a “fear period” in which even a minor scary event can scar them for life. Whatever your dog has experienced in the past leads to its unnatural temperament.
- PARENTAL GENETICS– If the dogs have fearful and aggressive parents, they might also end up being aggressive. This is genetic and can happen quite a lot.
When we talk about adverse life experiences, it can mean abuse or under socialization. Dogs who have been abused in the past try to make their owners happy and keep licking them hoping for validation. If your dog goes through any of the above-mentioned factors and is under socialized, it can be aggressive.
The reason behind under socialization of dogs
- Initiating from a shelter- If your dog or puppy came from a shelter, they have always had less exposure because of the limited resources or the unfair and unjust previous owner.
- Dogs Sickness- If your puppy used to be quite sick, this can lead to less socialization as they are made to isolate.
- Pet store puppies- if you buy a puppy, they come straight from a mill which is in the worst conditions ever and they don’t get to socialize at all.
- Under Researched owners- Some owners listen to the traditional old-age advice of the vet where they are required to keep the puppy isolated until he is vaccinated fully. This can be a major factor for under socialization.
Here We Have A Dog Advice For Your Concern
“When you’re looking for a breeder, line, or litter of puppies, assume that genetics is everything. Assume that the dog’s parent’s behaviors are exactly what the puppy will do.
Once the puppy is in your home, assume training and socialization are everything. Assume you can change everything about the dog and work to make that happen.”
This was the advice given by Hannah on the podcast “drinking from the toilet” when they aired the episode “puppy thoughts”.
This advice made total sense because blaming has never been a solution for anything. You can either do something to change it, just don’t. Similarly, labeling and blaming the factors wouldn’t help instead training and making them better will.
Is social interaction with my dog worth it or is it too late to socialize?
It’s never too late to socialize your dog though making big and fully grown dogs socialize could be a challenge but not impossible.
Process To follow while Socializing A Dog:
1. PREPARE A CHECKLIST OF THE TRIGGERS
Listing out and figuring what scares and triggers your dog is important. You need to sit down and remember all the times where your dog went bonkers and what all was the situation that tickled your dog off.
2. EVALUATE YOUR DOG’S THRESHOLD
You can’t just push your dog to the triggering situations to see what their threshold is. You need to remember all the times they have behaved aggressively and how their threshold was.
3. HAVE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Don’t straight up jump to the training but get certain safety equipment just in case of a mishap.
- Baby gates- these will prevent your dog from jumping or reacting to certain family members or individuals he is afraid of.
- Blinds to cover windows- sometimes outside stuff can trigger your dog so putting up blinds on your windows will prevent aggressive behavior.
- Spray shield- this is a safe spray that will keep your dog away from other dogs when sprayed upon them as sometimes other dogs set them off.
- Muzzle training- If your dog has a habit of biting, it is important to give them muzzle training. The muzzle shouldn’t be too tight and should be given while eating, panting, and walking.
- Crate training- Try leaving your puppy in a crate so that they get trained for it.
- Harness- Aggressive while walking is a major problem for dogs so getting a harness is important.
4. YOUR BEHAVIOUR DESCRIBES YOU
You can use safety precautions but as the owner, it is very important to change your behavior and get dog friendly. Some tips are:
- Walk at times when not a lot of people are around.
- Keeping your puppies near you on turns and corners so that they feel safe.
- Let the dog eat their food alone.
- Don’t let people come close to your dog from training him.
5. NECESSARY NEEDS
Getting rid of aggressive behavior without taking care of the basic needs of a dog is something a lot of trainers do. The four steps to avoid that are:
6. GENERAL OBEDIENCE
- Basic training is very important for a well-behaved dog. Some of the tips are:
- Sit and down training
- Touch training where they touch their nose and other things.
- Watch my training.
- Leave it
7. SOCIALIZING PROCESS
The last step is to make your dog socialize through counterconditioning and desensitization. You can try playing a game called “Look at that!”
Step 1- set up a controlled and safe situation for your dog to notice the trigger.
Step 2- make your dog notice the trigger slowly.
Step 3- reward your dog for noticing.
Step 4- repeat with a reducing threshold.
Step 5- do it again.
Socializing a dog could be challenging but not impossible. So do it calmly and nicely.