Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hunting Dog Socialization 201

As you learned in the previous socialization article (Hunting Dog Socialization 101), socialization is crucial to your dog’s training. In the simplest of terms, socialization is introducing your dog to new people, places, and experiences. This process teaches your dog to be comfortable and confident in new situations. The socialization process begins the very first day the dog is in your home. The first article detailed the best way to start socialization within your home. Here we will look at introducing your dog to new places and people.

Regardless of what you will be showing your puppy, it is very important that you not allow the dog to become scared or hurt. This will negatively color the socialization process, which can be difficult to undo. A puppy that has adequately bonded with you should feel comfortable with most new situations as long as you are nearby. You have developed a trusting relationship where the dog should be able to trust you to protect him. This next step of socialization cannot happen effectively if this relationship has not been built.

It is natural for a dog to be curious about new places. You should certainly encourage this, as long as it is proper and legal. Be aware of any safety issues as you bring your dog to new places, and look into local laws regarding leashes. If possible, the dog should be able to explore freely, off-lead, in many areas. Even if your area has strict leash laws, it is likely there are areas that are created for unleashed dogs. Allow the dog to take rides in the vehicle with you, even if you are just running a quick errand. Take the dog with you to parks, lakes, woods, and friends’ homes. Dog parks are ideal in that they expose puppies to other dogs and to other human owners. Be aware of his reaction these situations and be ready to intervene if the puppy is acting inappropriately. As for other humans, kindly ask them not to offer your dog treats. In this stage, it is important that you are the only person in charge.

You should always remain in firm control, keeping the dog safe and secure. In a situation where the dog leaves your side to explore, call him back every so often and reward his obedience. In this you are building the trusting relationship where you are in control, but still encouraging his natural curiosity.

Beginning commands can be taught as you are building this relationship and teaching socialization. Between eight and twelve weeks old, the dog should be able to learn the basics like: no, sit, come, heel, and stay. Early training will ensure the success of later, more specified hunting training.

In a puppy’s life, nearly every moment holds potential for training. It will take concentrated effort, but your time and energy will be well worth it when the time comes for more in-depth training. At that point, the dog will be obedient, receptive, and ready to learn.


Nicole on healthy food for dogs said...

What is it with hunting? I’m not against it but my friends are so into it. I’m curious because I don’t seem to get why they’re doing it.

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