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Creating a Social "Friendly" Dog

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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The same technique works to alleviate potential mistrust of other dogs though any dog engaged in such socialization with your pup must be healthy, vaccinated, and well behaved, or the mission can backfire. What many owners and some trainers fail to appreciate about desensitizing a pup to strangers or other dogs is that involves a systematic approach, not a precipitous one. Anyone who hears advice like, "If your dog's nervous around children, bring him to a Little League game," or "If your dog doesn't like people, take him to the shopping mall and he'll meet thousands in one afternoon," must know, right off the bat, that this approach is incorrect. It is not desensitization, but what usually turns out to be a failed attempt at "flooding" (and often does more damage than it does good). Follow the yellow brick road outlined above and you should have no problems.

As with everything else in animal behavior, its not nature or nurture, it's both. That's why it was so important to point out the necessary of obtaining the right individual (genetically speaking) as the substrate for your dreams and aspirations. It is also important to choose the right type of breeder and to socialize your pup intensively in the first few weeks after adoption.

With real estate it's "location, location, and location." Well, with puppies, it's socialization, socialization, and socialization. If you, the owner, are able to bring all these components together then you will have that all-American, old-fashioned Golden Retriever of a dog when your pup grows up. You will have that Lassie or that Rin Tin Tin, and you will be able to have guests come over to your house without having to put your dog in another room or putting it on lead. All this can be achieved. You can even improve a dog that has not had the most ideal early life experiences by employing the spirit of socialization alluded to above, even into the juvenile period. And, if the worst comes to worse, even a cantankerous anti-social older dog can be turned around, to some extent, if the right approach is used.

You can teach an old dog new tricks - it just takes longer. But the "unlearning" of fears is never complete so it makes better sense to start out right at the beginning with the easily malleable material that is your new pup and to shape it, as if out of clay, into the confident individual that you hope it will become.

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