By Monique Anstee
Victoria, British Columbia
Dogs need to be socialized. This means they need to be able to handle a variety of floor surfaces. They need to be able to think their way through stress. They must be presented with problems that they can solve, and stressful situations that they can master and feel good about.
They must learn how to learn. They must learn to be calm and clear in their minds. For those of us that have dogs with ample piss and vinegar, they need to learn an off-switch so that we can enjoy living with them.
They must see all of their work, for any working-dogs, and know what it will look like. They need to learn to work closely with you, and yet also far away from you. Many sports require dogs to make their own decisions, at great distance from you, and this concept needs to be taught early (or rather training must be altered so that this is not squashed out of them). They must learn to use their noses for scent- discrimination, their bodies so that they are nimble and don’t get hurt, and they need to have the freeness in themselves so that they can have the right emotions for their work. And they need to be biddable and take instruction.
Their instincts must be allowed to be free, and explored, then rules put on them (if you are using it for your work).
They need to be able to see any situation, and even if it causes stress, they need to learn to cope with it, to recover from it, and then to bounce back from it.
They need to learn to switch rewards from toy to food, back to toy, and then back to food.
They need to learn to bring toys back to you. To follow you. To come when called. To always keep half an eye and half an ear on where you are domestically around the house and on walks. And your opinion needs to matter to them.
They must believe that you are the best and coolest person in the entire world, and follow you adoringly wherever you go. And you must be that person because you cannot lie to a dog.
They must allow you, your Vet and your Groomer to handle them and manipulate them.
And they need to trust you so much that no matter where they go in this world, nothing scares them or worries them, because ultimately you have their back.
This is Puppy Socialization as I define it.