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It is incredibly important with a puppy or an adopted dog that it be socialized properly.  Socialization along with proper training can keep dogs from becoming aggressive, acting out, or just being scared.  You want a dog who is going to be happy to greet new people, go to new places, visit the dog store, etc. Right now we are going to talk about socialization with people.

When your dog meets a new person, your dog will probably want to sniff their hand, their pants or their shoes.  Allow the new person to give your dog a treat.  Have them keep their hand flat like a piece of paper.  This will reduce accidental puppy nips.  Remember, pea sized treats, not huge ones, and soft treats work best because they are smellier.  If your dog seems comfortable to this point, allow the person to pet him.  The ears, the chest, or the side of the neck is usually a good place to start so your dog knows where he is going to be touched and doesn’t get scared.

This is an important topic to me because I had a dog who was wonderful 90% of the time.  But the other times he was aggressive, showed signs of separation anxiety, and couldn’t be around people who weren’t in his home.  He attacked other dogs and he attacked people, even my husband and myself.

So, here is a list of people you might want to have your dog meet:

  • The checkout lady/gentleman at the pet store
  • Someone using crutches (we don’t want them to be afraid of crutches)
  • Someone using a wheelchair
  • Your neighbors
  • Adult Men
  • Adult Women
  • Elderly men and women
  • Big people
  • Skinny People
  • Tall People
  • Short People
  • Loud people
  • People in uniforms (postal workers, cops, etc)
  • People in hats
  • People who wear glasses
  • People in helmets (bike helmets will probably be your easiest folks to find)
  • People wearing gloves
  • Men who have facial hair
  • Teenagers
  • Pre-Teens
  • Toddlers
  • Babies

I would suggest making a check list where you can make tic marks of the number of times your dog has socialized with each of these types of people.  It makes it easier to keep track.  Now this socialization should occur without the person having a dog of their own.  We don’t need another animal distracting your dog from what he should be learning…  That different types of people are ok.

You should leave the pre-teens, toddlers, and babies for last.  They are the most likely to do something that might scare your dog and we don’t want to do that, or scare the child.

If you have any questions or comments, please add them.  In part 2 we are going to be going over places to socialize your dog.  Have a great day!