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Socialising your Puppy with other Dogs

By By Sue Williams Bsc. Chairwoman GODT (MT). MCFBA, Canine Behaviourist & Trainer, CEO Guild of Dog Trainers 9 months ago 3813 Views

An important aspect of puppy upbringing is teaching them to be confident and friendly towards other dogs.

Lack of exposure and bad experiences with other dogs are two of the most common causes of dog to dog aggression.  Dogs who are scared of other dogs display this by barking and lunging particularly when restricted on a lead.  Unfortunately, an unwanted behaviour pattern can develop rapidly as the unwanted behaviour is reinforced by the other dog moving away, which is what the nervous dog wants.

To make sure you avoid your puppy developing this issue you need to socialise them with other dogs. That said, it is imperative that you do this correctly. You don’t want the other extreme of creating a canine thug with no manners. This is caused by letting a puppy play fight continually with other dogs.

Taggie is now approaching five months and she has met and interacted with lots of different dogs from small to big, young to old. Being a boisterous Labrador, it has been important for me to ensure she learns good manners. I don’t want her growing up becoming so dog motivated that she switches off from me and then doesn’t respond to instruction. However, I do want her to enjoy playing with other dogs, like my sister’s Labrador Martha who is a similar age.

 

Taggie and Martha

I see many clients whose dogs literally drag them to another dog and when off lead and they spot a dog in the distance run to it taking no notice of them giving the recall command.

To prevent these problems I establish some simple rules which I then implement in training sessions and in the ‘real world’ when I am out with her. These are:

• I have taught Taggie a release command which tells her that she is free to play.
• When on lead I invite Taggie to interact with another dog but she must mix calmly and politely. If she gets over excited I simply take her away until she is calm and then repeat. (Below I am practicing this at puppy class)

 


Taggie at puppy class

I find that by using Natural Instinct treats, such as the Organic Chicken Hearts, Liver Treats or Beef Jerky to reward her for focusing on me it reinforces these responses and has really helped when I have added in the distraction of another dog. Taggie’s training is progressing really well and over time I am confident that she will develop into a confident well mannered sociable dog.
 

Taggie walking past a dog at a country show

I recommend you enrol in a good puppy class where you will be guided and shown how to make sure you are doing everything correctly. To find a class near you, with a knowledgeable trainer go to the Guild of Dog Trainers website.

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