This past year has been a DOOZY, but there is one good thing that came out of the Pandemic. EVERYONE ADOPTED DOGS. It is a challenge to find a dog these days!
I have not had group classes for obvious reasons, but I have held get-togethers in public parks with all the precautions, and it works fine! I tell folks that they can include their friends and dogs in the training, so they can socialize, train, and save money at the same time!
Below is an article I wrote for the Los Altos Town Crier a few years ago in an attempt to educate the public about how important socialization for dogs is, and to request that someone assist me by donating some free indoor space. My hope is that enough people that love dogs will read this and step up. For the dogs.
HONOR THE DOG.
Puppy and Dog Socializing in Los Altos
Where to Go?
By Jimi Dixon/ Dog Behaviorist
Fuzzy Wolf Canine Behavioral Training
If you have been a pet parent in the last 20 years, you have probably heard from your veterinarian, groomer or trainer how important socialization is. They may have told you that it is important the puppy be socialized with other dogs, humans, situations, umbrellas, garbage trucks, the weird neighbor, the loud kids and relatives that come to visit, but…are they giving you information on how to do it? Where to go? Probably not- they can only give you the information that they have. Currently, a well-known indoor space for socialization is not available in our community for both puppies and older dogs.
But wait! The short period of time (8-16 weeks) is the most crucial, because socializing and training at an early age gives the puppy a foundation of trust and respect. The time for socializing and vaccinations directly conflict.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior states “… the fact is that behavioral issues—not infectious diseases—are the number one cause of death for dogs under 3 years of age, according to the AVSAB..”
I believe the safest place for this venue is indoors, where sanitation and safety can be maintained for puppies less than 6 months old.
I know that many dog owners here in the Bay Area actually “break the law” by allowing their dogs off leash in parks so they can socialize, even though it is clearly posted that off leash dogs are not allowed. It sure would be nice to recommend a place for these folks to go, for FREE to safely socialize their puppies and dogs. The disconnect here is that there may be limited resources on where to go so this miracle can happen safely.
This requires that the pet parent or dog trainer be knowledgeable about what socialization really means. For instance, what should your response be if the puppy or dog resists being introduced to something? How should you correct or teach a puppy or dog not to bully another puppy?
I think a lot of people agree that puppy and dog socialization is so important that it should be offered for free and considered a community service. Benefits of early and frequent socializing have proven to be a deterrent to dog shelters, re-homing and euthanizing dogs with behavior issues. I would love to partner with community-minded dog lovers to create that free community service. We just need someone in our city to volunteer the space- our community could really benefit from this.