selected from an experienced breeder to guide the process of socialization and desensitization from birth. Obviously, this is not how life works out – I have 2 rehomed dogs, both that have had to work through significant socialization issues, but are both have become loving companions in their own ways!
But what about my rescue dog, will he always be scared of strangers?
An older dog that lacks these experiences will often improve when we give them the feedback and positive social interactions that they need. The problem is that there is too much stress, noise, and other factors to accomplish much while they are at the shelter. The result is that often our patients are then rehomed- from there, it is an uphill battle to re-socialize him. It takes time and commitment to help retrain his brain on how they should respond to the world around them. Remember, slow and steady wins the race – you want every possible interaction to be positive, and you want to not overwhelm them with too much stimuli (like a dog park or doggie daycare) at the beginning.
The best tip I give my clients is one that as an experienced owner, trainer, and veterinarian, we all have to work on this one. Remember that saying “its okay, it’s okay, don’t be scared” while petting them, is just like saying ‘it’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to be scared’– which, unfortunately, really is just the opposite of what we want them to learn. Tricky stuff, right?! So instead, we want to gradually redirect their behavior with training while they are given time to gain trust and acceptance to their new surroundings!
If you are experiencing a behavioral hiccup with your puppy or adult dog, or you think your pet may be giving off some awkward anti-social ques – please reach out! This is a huge part of my practice, and we WANT to see your pet as happy and healthy socially as they are medically!
Dr. Jenna Cooper