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We’ve partnered with Barking Hound Village to provide training resources for pet owners who need assistance. Learn more about preventing rude behavior in your dog by watching the video and reading the training guide below.

bhv training video cover

Properly socializing a puppy when they’re young is one of the most important things you can do to prevent future behavioral issues. Puppies go through a critical period of socialization in the first three to four months of their lives, which is a time when their fear responses are lowered, allowing them to explore the world around them. As puppies get older, they may become more fearful of novel stimuli and things they have not yet encountered. That means your first goal with socialization is to expose your puppy to anything they need to be comfortable with when they get older.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should just throw your puppy right into the deep end! To make sure socialization is a positive experience that helps build your puppy’s confidence, go slow and pay close attention to their body language and behavior. Fearful body language tends to lean back, lower, and tuck. Ears may pin back. The head may lower. Stretching—holding weight back while exploring something—is a clear sign of fear. And everyone knows that a tucked tail means a dog is fearful. If you see some of these signals, give your dog distance from the source of the fear and use lots of yummy treats to make it a positive experience. Watch for your dog’s body language to return back to normal before taking the next step.

As trainers, we recommend trying to expose puppies to five NEW things within the following five categories every week as they mature. We start with people. It’s important for your dog to meet new people in and outside the home. Take it slow and don’t throw any big parties right after your puppy comes home. Start with one or two people and build up to larger crowds. It’s important that you expose them to all shapes and sizes, including tall, loud adults and small, quick-moving children.

Next, your puppy needs to meet other dogs. If your puppy has not yet completed their full set of puppy vaccinations, make sure to keep dog socialization safe. Puppy classes can be a great way to get a jump on dog socialization. (Check out our AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Class at Barking Hound’s website) If you have friends with dogs that are well-socialized and up-to-date on their yearly shots, playdates can be a great way to ease your puppy into more extensive dog play like daycare.

Objects and sounds can be a frequent source of fear as your puppy ages. Don’t wait for July 4th and Halloween to find out your dog is terrified of the firework sounds and yard decorations. Use treats to encourage your dog to get closer to objects that cause fear, like the vacuum cleaner. It should ALWAYS be your dog’s decision to approach. Never force them. Play fireworks and thunder sounds on your phone or computer and give your puppy some yummy treats while they listen. Associate the positive experience with an easy level of these sounds and work your way up to the real thing.

And finally, it’s important to take your dog to new environments. Dogs don’t generalize well. Just because they’re happy at a nearby park doesn’t mean they’ll be comfortable at another one. Many local stores like Home Depot will let you bring your dog inside, and there are several dog-friendly restaurants and breweries around town. If your dog is shy, go when it’s calm and give them some distance from the action. If they’re confident, let them make as many friends as possible. And, as always, be safe with puppies not yet finished with their vaccinations and avoid dog-heavy locations.

Help your puppy start life on the right paw. Done right, socialization can give them the confidence and coping skills to handle anything thrown their way. And have fun with them throughout the process! Dogs pay close attention to our body language and behavior. If you’re happy and relaxed, your puppy is far more likely to be so as well!

Check out Barking Hound Village for more information, or contact them at (404)-369-2014 or to set up a session!

December 14, 2023

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