If you’ve ever had a dog jump up on you, slobber all over you or bristle and growl at you, you know you don't want your dog to act like that. Socialization produces a well-behaved, anxiety-free dog that is not a danger or a bother to people or animals. Socialization techniques to use during training and caring for your dog include gentle grooming, positive reinforcement and praise, and removal for unwanted behaviors.
Whether you are socializing a puppy or an older dog, consistent gentle grooming is an important technique to use. It familiarizes your dog with handling, especially of ears, tail and paws, and also creates a bond. Make a habit of brushing your dog daily with whatever grooming tool is most appropriate for your dog’s coat. Be gentle and make the experience pleasant and enjoyable. Add weekly or monthly grooming with bathing, nail clipping or filing and brushing teeth. A big side benefit of grooming is hygiene, resulting in a clean, odor-free dog.
Victoria Stillwell, a renowned dog trainer, promotes positive reinforcement and teaches kindness and cooperation in dog training for the best results. She counsels patience and repetition during training and using food and toy rewards for incentive and to get attention. A method she uses to train dogs to come when called involves letting the dog loose in a large enclosed area to run around, then bringing out a fun toy and calling the dog back. She also uses food to create positive associations with the training exercise, such as teaching a dog not to bark when someone is at the door by tossing bits of chicken on the floor when the dog doesn’t bark at knocking.
Praise and Removal
The praise and removal techniques involve giving the dog positive attention when it does something the trainer desires, and removing the dog from the situation when it does something undesirable. When you call your dog and it comes to you, praise and loving attention reinforce to the dog that it’s good to come when called. When the dog is acting up around other dogs on a walk, turning and walking the other way to remove it from the situation relieves the dog’s anxiety and creates a connection in the dog’s mind that when it behaves that way, it doesn’t get the same attention as it does when it behaves.
Patience and Repetition
Dog socialization must be done with patience and repetition to achieve the best results. A dog is not born knowing how to walk on a leash, come when called or control its desires to bark and run. Taking the time to gently handle and train your dog gives it confidence and reinforces the good behaviors you want.
- “The Association of Pet Dog Trainers Top Tips from Top Trainers”; Heather Russell-Revesz et al.; 2010
- “Do Over Dogs”; Pat Miller; 2010
- “Do You Speak Dog? “; Lee Dobbins; 2010
- Pets911; Dog Socialization; 2011
- Victoria Stillwell; Why Positive Reinforcement; 2011
- Photo Credit Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images