Socializing Raven, What have I done?
(Tips for Socializing Your Puppy)

Luzelle & Puppy Sage of HausTralis Malinois at Starbucks Botany Auckland

By Luzelle Cockburn

Right, so I’ve had little Raven for about a month now. What have I done to help her socialisation? Well, I’m going to tell you!

Socialisation Focus

Because Raven came to me with extensive dog socialisation I haven’t really worried too much about her meeting other dogs. She’s already well versed in dog body language and quite respectful of most dogs. However, because she has had such extensive dog socialisation it has taken me a bit longer to build a bond with her. Lucky for me, Kaz isn’t really a social butterfly, and so Raven couldn’t attach herself to Kaz for security, which left only me!

So for the last month my main focus has been on trust building, relationship building and confidence building with little Raven. That is important for me, because I need Raven to help me rehabilitate nervous dogs when she’s a bit older. We will train for obedience, but she’s just a puppy and there’s no immediate need to do that. I’ve trained enough dogs to know that training can be done at any age, so when it comes to raising pups, my focus is not on training.

I’ve had Raven for a month now, and we still haven’t even worked on “sit”. It’s just not important right now. What we have worked on a lot is that she can meet every 2nd person. Not everyone. Because then she’ll become a pest. Raven loves cuddles, so will easily become a pest because she’s friendly and if I allow her to meet everyone she wants to say hi to, when she’s older she might drag me across the road to go and meet people. She’s also not allowed to go and play with all the dogs that walk past us either, because not every dog wants to say “hi”. She has to learn to be respectful.

“I’ve had Raven for a month now, and we still haven’t even worked on “sit”. It’s just not important right now.”

Everyday Socialisation

When I take Raven out and about, I pay attention to things that she isn’t comfortable with, and work on those a little more. You see, building Raven’s confidence is very important so that I can enjoy a stable, well adjusted dog for the rest of our lives together. So what have we done?

We’ve gone to several café’s, she wasn’t impressed with the glass panels in the floor as we entered The Public Catering Company, so we’ll go there a few more times. She’s had a ride in a supermarket trolley. We’ll do some more work around those in time. She’s learned to be responsible for staying with the group. She’s slept through a thunder storm and played through a few more. We’ve gone to beaches, she’d never seen sand before so found that a bit awkward at first, but has since decided she quite likes the beach.

We regularly go to pet shops and vets to make sure she learns to behave as well as not freak out because she thinks those places are just where you go when bad things happen. These are great outings for rainy days. Raven gets to experience every day things I want her to be comfortable with. We had a session with her around the vacuum cleaner. She hadn’t seen one of those before so was a bit worried but I never allowed the vacuum cleaner to threaten her so she became comfortable seeing it.

Deliberate Socialisation

I’ve taken Raven to the Oakura Seaside Markets. Yes it was raining. But I wanted Raven to experience crowds of people and to learn to behave around stalls. Raven has been on a short holiday with us and stayed with family. She was quite a hit as she’s super friendly. We’ve had people over and even people stay with us, I don’t want Raven to become territorial so I want her to understand people come and go from here all the time.

We’ve walked over the swing bridge at AhuAhu beach – she handled that like a pro. Next time, I’ll cause more movement on the bridge. I’ve done trust building and relationship building exercises with Raven so that when the time comes, she will trust me even if I ask something scary from her when she’s older. I’ve made sure she’s fine with cows, we live rural, and I don’t want her chasing cows. She wasn’t too keen on horses. We’ll go work around a few more of them.

What am I Not doing?

I am not using a lot of food, toys or games in Raven’s training. Because she’s a breed that easily becomes obsessed with games, toys and food. My focus is on keeping her calm. I can always build the obsession later, but teaching calm later is a lot harder to do. That means I’m not doing any “drive building” (basically, building on a dog’s natural instincts to chase stuff) and our formal training sessions are limited to twice a week (if that).

It’s not important right now to focus on those things. I have the rest of her life to teach her all the fun obedience stuff and how to look stunning doing it. What is important right now is to build a strong bond, trust, relationship and team work. And to help Raven become a well adjusted, confident and happy dog. I can train the showy stuff later. That’s the easy part (and totally fun).

What You Need to Think About When Socialising Your Puppy

Have your end goal in mind. What would you like your puppy to be when they are older? To give you an idea, I’ll share my goal with Raven: I want Raven to be a well adjusted, confident dog that I can take anywhere. A dog that is well behaved, friendly and obedient. I want Raven to be able to help me with nervous dogs and puppies. I want Raven to be the dog everyone else would like their dog to be like.

That is my goal. I am a dog trainer. I need Raven to be a good example. So, to get there, I will train and socialize her so that she can become what I need her to be. So now the work is up to me. But it’s fun. I enjoy shaping and molding dogs to become fabulous pets that their owners can enjoy.

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About SolutionK9 Luzelle & Walter

Hey, I’m Luzelle!

If it has to do with transforming your naughty, embarrassing, frustrating or worrying dog into an obedient, well behaved member of the canine society that you can actually enjoy spending your life with, I can help.

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