Socialization Fun

Proper socialization is essential to helping your dog become a good member of the family and the community, and to become a good therapy dog. Here is a little challenge to try with your dog.

When you do the challenge, be sure to observe your dog carefully for signs of discomfort or stress and stop if he appears to be having difficulty. Be patient with all new things that you introduce to him and work at your dog’s comfort level.

Some signs of stress are: panting, licking their lips, becoming rigid, backing away, hiding behind you or refusing a treat. Some dogs will readily accept strangers approaching them & petting them, while others need to begin with new people at a distance and working in closer to them.

Be sure to give your dog treats and encouragement so that this pairs the new experience with something positive happening for him. For this, be sure to give the treat after each experience so that the new activity predicts the GOOD consequence. Don’t let them see the treat beforehand, but give them the treat right after they successfully have the new experience.

Spread this challenge out over a few weeks. See what kind of results you get. You should have a verysocial dog at the end! Good luck!

You may download a copy of this if you’d like to have it handy.

OK, on to the challenge! (You don’t have to do these in any particular order)

1.) Visit someone with a pool & let the dog watch people splashing & playing in the pool.

2.) Meet an unfamiliar person carrying a large object (big box, musical instrument, suitcase, etc.)

3.) Visit a retail store – Petco, PetsMart (sometimes a Lowe’s will let you in with a well mannered dog).

4.) Visit with a person in a wheelchair or using a walker or crutches.

5.) Meet a person in uniform.

6.) Meet a person wearing a hat or scarf, something unusual that your dog hasn’t seen before.

7.) Meet a man with a beard (if your dog isn’t used to seeing men with beards).

8.) Meet a new dog that your dog isn’t familiar with.

9.) Visit a crowded place (a busy sidewalk area, mall, athletic game, parade, etc.).

10.) Experience a new LOUD sound (an outdoor band concert, vacuum cleaner, sirens, etc.).

11.) Watch someone on a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades, etc. Get to the point where your dog will not react to it. Showing interest is ok, but not pulling and barking!

12.) Visit with the mail person, UPS delivery person, etc. Make good things happen!

13.) Meet a child under the age of 5 yrs old – one who is not a member of your family.

14.) Take your dog for a ride in an elevator.

15.) Expose your dog to stairs of various kinds – different surfaces, open & closed stairways.

16.) Add one new experience not listed here ____________________________

Compiled by: Sally Petty
July 2004