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Reintroducing a Poorly Socialized Dog to Society
Before you begin socializing a neglected or abused dog, you should understand pack leadership and have completed at least one month of basic training classes. When you feel that you have good control over your dog and that he respects your position as the leader of the pack, you are ready to take the dog back into society.
Reintroducing a poorly socialized dog into society
Dogs love to play, but sometimes we don’t realize that they NEED to play. Any dog that is kept isolated from the company of dogs or people, that never enjoys throwing or pulling a bone, or finds joy in a playful relationship with its owners, is an unhappy dog.
This unhappiness manifests as behavioral problems. For example, excessive barking or aggression is a sign of boredom and dissatisfaction. That’s why interaction with others is important.
So you are unknowingly part of a centuries-old wolf pack social structure. In these deceptively ordinary moments – when you’re playing hide and seek with your dog, for example – you embrace your dog’s natural desire to socialize. Through games like these, you and your dog truly bond.
If you never intended to introduce your dog to another person or dog, just making sure you give your dog plenty of one-on-one playtime each day is enough to keep him healthy and happy for the rest of his life.
However, most people want a companion animal that they can show off to family and friends as well as out for runs, in the park or in other social settings. However, if the dog has not been properly socialized, this kind of interaction with the rest of the world may not go as smoothly as the dog’s owner thought.
Socializing a poorly socialized or aggressive dog can quickly turn into a nightmare of barking, lunging, growling, and just general bad behavior. It may be directed at other dogs or it may be directed at strangers, either way it eventually becomes such a nightmare that the dog owner no longer wants to try.
Start socializing and training your dog early and you can avoid the difficult challenge of retraining an aggressive dog later!
Before you start training your dog in a social environment, you need to make sure that you are in control of your dog in your own home. Start working on basic training sessions and be very consistent with it. When you feel like your dog is no longer challenging your leadership, you may be ready to start working away from home.
Put on your training collar and a good leash, load your dog in the car and head to a park or other place where you know for sure you’re not likely to meet any off-leash dogs. You absolutely have to be in control of the situation, and you can’t control it if the other dog isn’t on a leash.
Just like you did in basic training, put your dog in the heel position and start your walk from the other dogs’ point of view.
Make sure you are in a calm and controlled state of mind. You want to feel confident and yet relaxed, in complete control and radiating your calm confidence to your dog.
Don’t let other dogs or people disturb your dog, just like if you were walking down the street next to your house.
If his head and tail suddenly jerk upward toward another dog or other distraction, correct him immediately and snap it back into place. He should be paying attention to you and watching you for cues, not other dogs.
If someone tries to walk their dog to you or tries to pet your dog, ask them to stay away from him, he is training right now. Most people will understand and respect your wishes.
Walk the park or area the first time you are outside, or until the dog walks past other dogs and distractions without a second glance. You want to try to end the training on a positive note.
Reward him when you load him back into the car with a special treat from home, perhaps a favorite snack or toy.
Practice walking in public at least ten or twelve more times before moving on to the next level. When you can easily walk in the general area and your dog never jerks on the leash, tries to follow another dog or person, and seems relaxed and comfortable following you, you are probably ready to move on to the next step.
If you’re looking to interact with people, start meeting your family at the park. If it’s dog friendly, ask them to bring their dog.
You are the leader of the pack, so you have to decide whether the pack will accept a stranger or a dog. This means that your dog must not growl, bark or behave aggressively towards anyone or any other dog.
When you are ready, leash both dogs and start walking in the park. Start with a small distance between the dogs by walking together in the same direction and always keeping one of the humans between them.
At first they still look at each other and try to go around people to get to the other dog. Just keep walking firmly forward and snapping them back into place until they remember their training and start paying more attention to you than the other dog.
The reason that keeping a person as a friend helps is because the dialogue between two people helps the dogs understand that you are both pack leaders with a higher status than them, so they need to relax and just be good companions while you guide them. .
Walk your dogs like this half a dozen times, talking, laughing and making lots of noise to communicate with each other while keeping the dogs under relaxed control. They need to stay calm and obedient even when you’re belly laughing, crying or talking loudly.
Try to end each walk on a good note so that both dogs feel relaxed and happy.
It really helps if you know several friends who can rotate out walks with your dog. You don’t want your dog to get used to just one dog, you want him to be comfortable with all dogs.
After you’ve practiced walking together half a dozen times, meet again in the park, but this time after you’ve walked for a minute or two and the dogs are walking undisturbed, stop abruptly and step close enough to each other that the dogs can sniff.
The very social dog sniffs the Pomeranian’s nose and then turns to look at his master as if to ask why the walk ended so soon. A dog with poorer social skills will be more focused and try to sniff the other dog all over as if trying to determine who is boss based on scent and growth. A dog with very poor skills will raise its tail, stiffen its legs and may growl or even snap at another dog.
If an aggressive dog’s tail rises above the spine, pull it back sharply with a strong “BAH” and continue your walk without bringing the dogs again the same day. If both dogs seem to maintain their calm and relaxed demeanor, it’s fine to stand and talk while they interact for a few minutes, then continue walking in this good manner.
Continue to practice introductions once or twice each day until the aggressive dog learns that he is not in control, you are. You don’t want to burden the dog, especially if it’s an older rescue that may have had bad experiences with other dogs. You have to take it slow so he doesn’t feel pressured.
Once you’ve introduced your dog to half a dozen other dogs and he’s responded well to all of them, you can move on to meeting several dogs at once and eventually to parks.
Puppies obviously go through these stages very easily, but for older dogs who have not been properly socialized, it is very important to take these stages at a pace that works for them. Especially rescue dogs who have spent years chained or in a kennel without good human or dog interaction.
The most important thing is to always keep the situation under control and be a good pack leader for your dog.
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