Puppy Training and Socialization

The need for puppy socialization is unfortunately, often misunderstood. While it is beneficial to socialize your puppy at an early age, it simply isn’t as simple as physically transporting them to any environment or opportunity that presents other dogs. Puppy socialization and puppy training is really about exposing your young and impressionable dog to well-mannered puppies or adult dogs which more commonly than not, will not happen in a random dog park or even in a contained setting such a puppy socialization class or puppy obedience class. At the core of any efficient puppy training, is really the quality of the interactions versus quantity of interactions they have. When it comes to socializing your puppy, the same rule applies for getting them used to a wide range of environmental stimuli such as runners, cyclists, traffic, loud noises coming from construction sites or the blaring sirens of various emergency vehicles; all of which are especially prevalent in urban areas such as Toronto. It is extremely important that you only create puppy socialization scenarios with people, dogs and places that you can trust. The last thing you want is someone or something that scares or intimidates your dog while exposing them to a new environment for the first time. While working on puppy socialization, one wants to be able to address any anxious or fearful behaviour so that it is eliminated from the start and not further perpetuated or you can very quickly go from having a nervous new puppy to a full-on anxious adult dog. Equally as important, you do not want your puppy behaving in an obnoxious or pushy way when with humans or other puppies or dogs. Most people assume puppy socialization just means get them out and about and around everything possible as much as possible and that by osmosis and mere exposure, this will help correct any issues from that point forward but this just isn’t the case. The key thing to ensure when it comes to any kind of puppy training or socialization, is that each interaction is as successful as possible, in that your puppy learns from it and it is a rewarding and enriching experience.


Puppy Socialization and Obedience Classes

When it comes to puppy socialization classes, something most imagine to be fun and easy for everyone involved, they can often become challenging and even result in negative impact, if the right variables are not in place.  When a group of owners and their puppies get together to socialize the goal should be playing while learning and establishing manners. If for example a puppy is being overly ‘bossed around’ by another puppy, there should be a timely intervention in order for the lesson to actually be taught and the overwhelmed puppy to receive the assistance it needs. However, far too often, these types of behaviours are being allowed and, in some cases, encouraged. When a puppy is becoming fearful or anxious in a situation and it is missed by the owner or puppy class facilitator, the puppy (and the owner eventually) ends up having a bad experience as a result. While it is undoubtedly super fun and adorable to watch puppies play with each other, it’s imperative that we play an active role while observing them and are prepared to step in when necessary and essentially referee to help the puppy assert itself and keep the play fair. If the trainer or person in charge (owner if outside a class setting) is unaware of what is happening at all times or is aware but does not have the knowledge or experience to shift behaviours at the moment it is needed, we run the risk of not having a positive outcome.