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Socialization With Other Dogs- Fact or Myth?

Updated: Mar 7

By Erin Bock from Delano Doodles


The MYTH:

My puppy shouldn’t play with other dogs until they are fully vaccinated.


The FACT:

Puppies should play with older dogs who are vaccinated, healthy, gentle and trustworthy.


There are two great ways to socialize your puppy to other dogs. One is merely observation - take your puppy to a dog park (in a stroller or sling) and stand somewhere at a distance. Give food rewards while you simply pet and observe (this is a great use of an entire meal). This enables the puppy to add various appearances to their mental library without any risk.


Your puppy is developing a visual filtering system in their head and part of the reactivity to other dogs is seeing one that isn’t a “known.” By allowing your puppy to add diverse appearances on to that hard drive (brain), your puppy will have a database of other dogs.


The other vital exposure is playdates with vaccinated dogs. Gentle vaccinated dogs. Kind vaccinated dogs. KNOWN vaccinated dogs who do things like lay on their backs, mouth softly, and run away when annoyed.


If you’re getting a puppy, begin talking to friends/family now and observe their dogs. Create a list of potential playdates and when you get your puppy together with another dog (one at a time), be sure to provide an escape route for both your puppy (who needs to have a place to retreat if feeling overwhelmed) and the new friend.


And yes, play dates before your puppy is fully vaccinated are fine. We talk a lot about taking calculated risks with puppies and this is one that is important to take, as your puppy needs the experience of playing with other dogs while still in that socialization window.


And last, a biggie: after the playdate, give your puppy something like a frozen food puzzle or bully stick to lick/chew. It’s a transitional activity that helps your puppy process and settle. 🐶👍


So yes, other dogs ARE a vital part of socialization and yes, you can do so, with minimal risk. Consider it part of your emotional vaccination protocols. 😉


Erin Bock lives in Florida and operates Delano Doodles. She is a fabulous breeder, focusing on quality therapy dog lines. She and her husband do therapy work locally with several of their dogs. To learn more visit https://www.delanodoodles.com/ and follow her on social media @delanodoodles.

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Help my puppy who was doing amazing with walking is now super scared and does not like to walk now, we were walking her and my other doodle when we had some dogs run out of thier area and scared them also nipped her, so anytime we walked that way she would pull me so we dont walk that way now but we have a kid whos autistic and very tall and we were walking them when he came at us and tried to pet her when i told him not to our pup got out of her collar and he chased her all the way to our home, which scared her so bad she peed on the porch and…

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How much time is recommended for a puppy play date? 20 mins? My little Bichon is super timid and is afraid of people.

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AskTheTrainer
AskTheTrainer
Mar 07
Replying to

B&B TRAINER RESPONSE: Hi! Every dog is different. You want to base it on how the pups are acting. Check out the second half of this video to see what an interactive session looked like between my puppy and another puppy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiBA6fS4KhM&list=PLF041CM48yC3ED5Ka871dwLcCn4DNDt_n&index=13

Notice how often we are checking in with the puppies and working on keeping the energy at a good place.

Where your dog is nervous, it is best to really know his body language and make sure to give him space when needed.

-Bailey

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I did not follow this advice and now find that my Australian Labradoodle is not well socialized and nervous around other dogs. What can I do now that she is 18 months old to help her get more comfortable?

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AskTheTrainer
AskTheTrainer
Mar 07
Replying to

B&B TRAINER RESPONSE: Hi! Distance is our best friend when dogs are either nervous or overstimulated. Work on socializing from a distance and you are getting closer when the puppy is happy and carefree, and creating distance when not. Here is a video of trainer Emily doing this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXHFEq4LK8Q&list=PL-GYrjigJdwaicnMjUz2XdJqb_XNY6thw&index=19

-Bailey

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