When you first bring home a new pet, there is a heavy focus on allowing them to get acclimated to their new environment or to become socialized. Master Trainer Michael Soler states that there is a major misconception about what socialization is. Socialization is getting the dog used to our society and environments. The focus is on teaching the dog to “ignore it all”. This is also known as desensitizing or teaching them to ignore any outside distractions. There have been many complaints from dog owners throughout the pandemic stating that they couldn’t socialize their dog. Soler states that this is the best time to do this as you can do it even more. The more that the dog is focused on their owner, the less they will have focus toward other things. There are 2 major forms of training when it comes to your dog: Passive training and Interactive training. Most people focus on interactive training, where you are teaching the dog everyday actions by taking time to teach and interact with them. Passive training is a type of training which the dog studies your reactions. This is the type of training that is recommended because it allows for people to be able to train their dogs without doing an overwhelming amount. Master Trainer Michael Soler is going to break down what to do and not do when it comes to socializing your dog.

DO

  • Train your dog in your front yard or at home. This is the best way to get them acclimated to every type of normal distraction. Examples of these distractions include firetrucks, police cars, noises, people, weather, or other animals. 
  • Use name drills or other recall activities to bring the dog’s attention back to you. It is important to teach name drills when the dog is young.
  • Teach your dog the actions that you want them to execute. If there is no direction no action can be completed.
  • Understand that attention is attention, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.
  • Use “down time” such as relaxing on the couch to teach recall. Call their name, drop a treat on the ground, and return to your activity. This will teach the dog that when they relax, they will be rewarded. This is giving them the choice when their name is called that they will be receiving positive attention or no attention.
  • Take a step backwards during a walk if you feel as if the dog is trying to gain power. This action takes away their power without punishing them. This shows that you also did not ignore the action. If you sense that the dog’s anxiety is building, take the steps to calm the situation early. You can do this by slowly backing off and slowing down.
  • Show the dog how to get what they want so that they will recognize these actions for later.

DO NOT

  • Assume that you are correcting your dog by simply acknowledging their behavior. Much of the time, we are using terms that the dog does not know. 
  • Give the dog attention only at times when they are doing a bad behavior. This will teach the dog that when they do that behavior, they will receive attention. Attention is attention, good or bad. 
  • Give up too early when trying to create a habit with the dog. It takes 30 days to create a habit, 60 days to enforce a habit, and 90 days to create muscle memory. Most people quit between the 14 to 45 day period.
  • Allow your dog to take power over any situation. You are to be the one who holds the power. The dog should not be in a position in which they are able to make any advances toward another person or animal.
  • Punish your dog by taking physical action against them. It is more effective to teach the dog the behaviors to execute to get a positive reaction or no reaction. This is more beneficial than teaching them to expect a negative reaction.