Puppy Socialization List pt2–Travel’n Man
It’s been a week since I brought the little man home and he has continued to improve in a lot of respects. Some things, like potty training, are going amazingly well–darn near perfect actually. He is also showing less reactivity towards people. He’s learned that barking gets him no where and that if he’d like to go see the person, he best be quiet.
We’ve gone to the park a few times to work on his dog reactivity and it is getting much better at a distance. In fact he’s pretty much not reacting to dogs while he’s on leash if we are more than 10-15ft away as long as he’s stationary (if he’s moving, he’s still not reacting, just getting a spike in arousal level). We’ve been doing some counter conditioning, some Look At That (LAT), clicking for maintained focus on me, and some working around other dogs (sits/downs/touches). We have not had a single moment of reactivity at the park (some over arousal) and the only minor moments of reactivity I’ve seen while walking him around the neighborhood were only when other dogs reacted first. It will continue to be a work in progress, but I’m starting to get really nice focus when he sees another dog instead of focusing in on the other dog and reacting. I even did some work with a fake dog set up in my yard.
The main area of socialization that he needs and will continue to need is quality experiences with other dogs. It is not easy to find stable enough adult dogs who won’t either kill him for being snotty or who won’t run in fear of his snotty behavior. So what does that mean for me? Road trips! I will be driving an hour and a half (or so) to visit two friends of mine in Indiana PA so he can have a chance to socialize with about 6 different dogs (not all at once). After going to Indiana, I will quite probably be making the 2-hour drive to Cleveland to meet up with a friend and a few of her friends with sound adult dogs. He really needs to have experiences with adult dogs who can show him that 1. he doesn’t need to be a snot and 2. being a snot has consequences, and he probably won’t like them. It is hard enough finding any other dogs to socialize with but it is even harder when your puppy has special needs in his canine playmates. Quality socialization is absolutely worth 4.5hours driving (Round trip) to make sure he is with dogs who will help him learn better doggie skills.
I am lucky that there are still a few other dogs locally that he will get to socialize with as he continues to improve his doggie skills but he needs lots of positive experiences to help fix the deficiencies he has. I need to make sure that the dogs he is exposed to are going to result in positive experiences and not contribute to his issues. I also need to make sure that the dogs he is exposed to aren’t going to be harmed by his snottiness. I have responsibilities to him and to the other dogs–safety of everyone is always the most important thing to consider.
It is absolutely not easy for Loki but it is also so important that I make the effort to give him good experiences while his brain is still primed to accept things. It is out of my way and will take hours of my time…but it is worth it. He absolutely needs it if I want him to be the best boy he can be.
List of new Experiences
Knocked over loud metal trash can–didn’t flinch!
Jumped into trash can lid–impromptu wobble board!
Met another 15 people, men, woman, and children–still need to get a wider range of colors and sizes of people.
Up and down a full-sized staircase (exterior and interior).
Went in the baby pool–learning to pick up sunken toys!
Encountered trash cans–he thinks they smell great
Encountered garbage truck and recycling truck.
He has discovered the joy of tunnels–future tunnel sucker!
We played with balloons–BOING!