Socializing your puppy or older dog

on Thursday, September 26, 2013
Cape-Able Canines
Socializing your puppy or older dog
by: J. Aleita Downer

An essential part of your puppy's early training is exposure to a large variety of enrichment activities - commonly referred to as "socialization." Effective socialization will instill more self-confidence in your puppy, as well as building his trust in you as the "pack leader." Well socialized puppies developed greater problem solving skills and are welcome almost every where.

The key to successul socialization is to start slowly, introducing situations that are non-threatening to the puppy. Watch for signs of stress. Remember, you are not trying to make the puppy endure a situation. While introducing the stimuli gradually, allow your voice and your body language to reassure the pup that the situation is safe. DO NOT CODDLE the puppy, as doing so only confirms the pup's suspicions that the situation is something to fear. Excitement in your voice and a display of curiousilty from you will encourage the pup to explore.

Consider bringing along a motivator, such as a food treat, ball or favorite toy. The pup will associate the new experience with something positive, and will become more resilient when faced with challenging experiences later.

Try as many of the following experiences as possible:

Your pup is constantly evolving and may suddenly appear tentative and cautious in a situation where s/he once appeared confident and precocious. While this is a natural adjustment to the development of full adult sensory capacities, it is your job to ensure that this adjustment be as positive as possible.

If you encounter fear in your dog over any of these socialization experiences, plan out a careful approach to desensitize your puppy. For example, if your pup is fearful of the vacuum cleaner, start out by placing the vacuum in another room but within sight. Later, bring it into the same room as the pup but leave it turned off. Once the pup seems relaxed about this, try pushing it around, without turning it on. Finally place it in another room and turn it on. As soon as your pup becomes accustomed to each new development, take the exercise one step further until s/he realizes that there is nothing to fear.

Every single positive experience you provide your puppy will broaden his comfort zones, strengthen his ability to adjust and change, use his body and senses in new ways, and give your puppy the enjoyment and mental/physical excitement that accompanies learning.

If it is a good experience, the puppy's confidence and self-esteem will grow. With your help, the world will become an exciting and manageable place for your pup.

Go out and have some fun!

Dog Bite Prevention

on Friday, February 08, 2013
The following article on how to prevent dog bites was written by Kay Thompson, RN, BSN, CPEN, CPDT-KA an Emergency Room nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital, a Certified Dog and Puppy Trainer... and a dear friend. It is reprinted here with her gracious permission.
Dog Bite Prevention

We hear the same story way too often from perplexed parents in the Emergency Department at Rady Children’s Hospital. "Our dog has never bitten anyone. The kids and the dog play nicely together all the time. Then today, out of the blue, he bit him." As we prepare for the plastic surgeon to arrive and work his magic on these tiny lacerated faces, we often wonder, "Why do we see so many dog bites?" As a trauma nurse and a dog trainer, I decided a few years ago that I wanted to find out more about dog bites, and my hunch was, that people can prevent nearly all of them. I am now certain that this is the case. With a generous sponsorship from the San Diego Emergency Nurses Association, and in cooperation with an organization called Doggone Safe, I have begun to spread the word. Behind every dog bite there is a person who may have prevented it.

Kay Thompson

Facts About Dog Bites:

When to Leave Dogs Alone:
You may already be aware of these situations when we should all be respectful of a dog’s space and body language. When in doubt and if possible, leave dogs alone when:

Dog Body Language Basics:
Dogs show us with their bodies when they would rather be left alone. Dogs do not bite "out of the blue." Especially around children, we must begin to become aware of and respect these body language basics. These are a dog’s way of saying: "Don’t bother me right now.":

When a dog becomes uncomfortable, impatient, or anxious, they may use "calming signals" to distract themselves from the situation. These signals say to people, "I’ve had enough.":

What Dog Owners Can Do:
Just as the rewards of having a dog are many, so are the responsibilities. Dog owners can be the foundation of bite prevention when they follow a few basic guidelines:

What Parents and Kids Need To Know:
We all love to see kids and dogs playing together. They seem to have a special bond. It is essential to understand, however, that dogs don’t always respect kids. This is true especially for children under five. Remind kids early and often how to be with dogs safely and treat them with respect.

Many of the bites we see in the Emergency Department can be avoided if parents begin to pay close attention to interactions between kids and dogs. We can now begin to work together and prevent these unnecessary injuries.

For more information about dog bite prevention visit:

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