Puppy Diaries #8: Mastering the Perfect Puppy Social Interaction

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Enter what we like to call “the beep collar.” We were introduced to it by a friend and found its effects immediate and lasting. When Sommer’s puppy friends came to play, I put the collar on her, and she was instantly on notice that bad behavior would not be tolerated. A few initial barks of happiness? No problem. Incessant, irritating high-pitched barking? We’d hit the remote, the collar would beep and the barking would stop. It was like a miracle.

While our training methods might not be perfect, I’m also acutely aware that Sommer is of the age when dogs are at the highest risk of being surrendered, between six months and two years of age. It’s the time when they have the most energy and require a lot of attention, correction, and activity. So if a collar helps me to manage Sommer’s overly energetic ways, then so be it, I told myself. If I thought there was a reason for Sommer’s barking – if in fact she needed to defend herself – I would not have used the collar. And maybe there is a better way to stop barking, but that’s what worked fastest for us. For breaking a bad habit that seemed to come from overexcitement, I would recommend it. Now, when our neighbor stops by while walking her dogs, Sommer can come out and play with them in our yard, while the neighbor and I enjoy a leisurely chat.

Going for walks was another activity that seemed like it should have been a relaxing and bonding time but which in reality proved to be treacherous when Sommer would encounter another dog. Our walks with Sommer at eight months seemed to alternate between long stretches of happy sniffing, punctuated by moments of sheer terror when a dog in its yard would charge at us, barking enthusiastically. More than once, Sommer came to an abrupt halt right in front of me, and I’d nearly fall flat on my face – although, to date, I’ve managed to catch myself. After screeching to a halt, she would start barking and then lunge at the dog, nearly dislocating my shoulder in the process. Making the situation more challenging was the fact that it was impossible to determine whether the dog charging at us from their yard would actually stop before reaching us. Where we live, it’s hilly and the lots are too large for a fence, so no one has an actual physical fence. You just say a silent prayer that the dog charging you has his invisible fence collar on, or that if he doesn’t have it, he’s well trained enough to know his property line. I can see why Sommer doesn’t find that comforting! If dogs weren’t charging us from their yards, they were inside their homes and rushing toward the screen door or picture window and barking when we passed by. This also apparently required Sommer’s full attention. Walks really were a gauntlet! This time, I used “the beep collar” again during a single walk, and beeped her when she began barking and lunging at a neighbor dog. She stopped immediately. Since then, she hasn’t been perfect, but she has been much improved.

Lessons Learned from My Vet

  • Like all young adolescents, your eight-month-old pup will choose to ignore you and display undesirable behavior from time to time. It’s important to keep at the training and don’t give up. This is normal!
  • Despite the challenges, this is an ideal age for your pup to begin learning leash walking. Dogs are pack animals and your pup at this age will be learning how to relate to other dogs, just as she is learning how to be part of her human pack.

My Favorite Articles

Puppy Diary Series: Sit, Stay, Play

Join our resident Pup Mom on her puppy parenthood journey in our Puppy Diaries Series.

Puppy Age: 0-8 Weeks
Puppy Diaries #1: Deciding To Get A New Puppy (0-8 weeks)
Puppy Age: 8-12 Weeks
Puppy Diaries #2: Picking Up Our New Pup and Bringing Her Home (8-12 weeks)
Puppy Age: 12-16 Weeks
Puppy Diaries #3: Caring For And Training our New Pup (12-16 Weeks)
Puppy Age: 16-20 Weeks
Puppy Diaries #4: First Firsts For Our New Pup (16-20 weeks)
Puppy Age: 20-24 Weeks
Puppy Diaries #5: Our First Pup Emergency (20-24 weeks)
Puppy Age: 24-28 Weeks
Puppy Diaries #6: To Spay or Not To Spay (24-28 weeks)
Puppy Age: 28-32 Weeks
Puppy Diaries #7: First Year Costs – Myth vs. Reality (28-32 weeks)


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