Socialization

October 26, 2019

A few years ago, I enrolled my charming but naughty Penelope in an obedience puppy class. The instructor said “oh, gosh. I usually don’t take Basset Hounds in the group classes, Bassets and Beagles notoriously don’t listen and it takes an act of God to train them”.  This is true.  Bassets are very difficult to train, socializing your puppy should be no problem at all.  If you have gotten you basset hound puppy from a reputable breeder the puppy should already be well socialized.  The basset hound is a friendly, charming, fun-loving, relaxed dog.  They are TRULY one of the last breeds that crave and NEED a pack.  Houndful Hearts has only, to date, sold one puppy to an only dog home.  It has worked out brilliantly because the owner has done her job.  The owner is also a stay at home worker, who devotes 18 of the 24-hour day to Snickers, her beloved hound.  She regularly takes Snickers to the beach, to dog-parks and sets playdates with other dog owners for Snickers. The owner revolves AROUND Snickers life.  Read that last sentence again.  Unless you are prepared to be a slave to your basset hound puppy, it is best NOT to have a basset hound be the only one animal in the house. Birds, fish and snakes to not count as pack animals for your basset hound.  Cats might be fine, but really you need an older dog (NOTICE I didn’t say another basset hound) to train your puppy.  To teach the puppy how to be a dog, how to speak dog and act like a dog. 

 

In order for puppy to grow up mentally healthy she needs to have positive interaction with her litter mates and mama for the that all important 0-10 weeks of life.  And then AGAIN at that all-important stage of 10 weeks to 6 months in their new home.  This is critical for puppy to grow up knowing their place in the world.

 

So, let’s talk about the scenario of you getting a puppy and babying the puppy and keeping that darling little puppy safe from the outside world and other dogs and protecting your darling against over achievers at the dog park. BAD HUMAN. It is VERY difficult to do remedial socialization on older or rescued dogs then on puppies.  Every dog is a combination of nature and nurture.  It really depends on their environment. If your puppy has come from a reputable breeder then puppy has the GOOD genes to be a social dog, it’s her humans that need to find and pull out those genes and pull out her good temperament. If for whatever reason your puppy does not get along well with other dogs, growls at them, or is timid and afraid you will need to begin immediately using desensitization.  Simply put this is changing puppy’s association with an untoward stimulus, be that strangers- other dogs-the dog park- or whatever you can pinpoint as the fear factor for your puppy.  YOU need to change your response, verbally and physically from OOOOHHHH!  Scary. To YAY!  Good stuff! You do this by bribery.  Using the BEST treat you can come up with.  We use Hot Dogs!  Use something that puppy cannot resist.  AND use it ONLY when training her.  Introduce the fear-causing stimulation at a low intensity, low enough that puppy notices the Stimulation but is not totally freaked out by it.  If at the Dog Park start feeding puppy small pieces of the treat continuously as other dogs approach her.  When the other dog leaves STOP the treats.  Repeat this repeatedly, by the end of the first day puppy should be giving you the que of OKAY a dog is coming I get a treat, awesome!  Be sure to praise the other dog as well as your puppy with Good job, nice puppy. I use the word YES in my household.  YES, means treat, YES means you are doing what I want you to do and you get a cookie!  YES!  Socializing your puppy is a long slow process that is extremely time consuming, but well worth the effort if you get puppy to engage with other dogs.  If you cannot get puppy socialized the consequences will be devasting for your family and for the puppy. Poorly socialized dogs make terrible pets and cannot be trusted around other people or other animals.  In order for your puppy to become the AWESOME dog she was bred to be, she needs to learn dog-talk and dog-rules.  It is sad to see a very social animal hide under a chair around another dog.  If you have another dog, GREAT!  That older dog is going to teach the puppy all that she needs to know about the outside world.  How to sniff butts, when to growl at another over aggressive dog, how to tumble and play, how to defend herself, how to fetch and other important dog rules for outside your home.  As a human you need to know when to intervene and when to allow puppy to be a dog.

 

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