Socializing Your Adult Dog

Dog on LeashSocializing your dog is very important; not only will it make him a better citizen, it will help your dog remain calm in different situations. It’s relatively easy to socialize most puppies because they are open to new experiences and everyone wants to interact with a puppy. But what happens when you adopt an adult dog? It takes a little more effort to socialize an adult dog, especially if they show signs of being fearful or shy around other dogs or people.

When socializing your dog it is very important to remain calm. If you get nervous, your dog will pick up on your emotions and could get nervous in response. Instead of taking your dog out in public, which may be overstimulating, enlist the help of friends and family your dog is unfamiliar with when first attempting to socialize.

  • Have a friend the dog is unfamiliar with stand a few feet away from the dog. Have them toss a treat or one of your dog’s toys on the ground, then walk away. Repeat the process, with the person closer to the dog each time. Your dog should learn to associate positive things with strangers rather than negative things.
  • Use a toy every time you greet your dog after you have been away. The dog should eventually associate the toy with pleasant interaction. Once that has happened, you can use it when your dog is meeting strangers. Give it to visitors when they enter the house or take it with you on walks when you meet strangers along the way.
  • When you introduce new people to your dog, have the person sit down or squat on their haunches so that they appear to be less threatening. The dog will be more accustomed to relaxed social contact. The combination of the environment and passive body posture should produce a more positive response from the dog rather than if the person is looming over the dog as they advance.

If your dog is especially fearful you can take a step back and try the following technique:

  • Sit in an armchair and scatter food around you (or your friend). Your dog can approach and retreat as he likes. As he comes closer, he gets the food and as he runs off he gets nothing. Once he is more interested in the lure, you can now take the food and talk to the dog in the language that he has learned: come here, sit, and down. This in itself is like a behavioral pacifier and will accelerate the bonding process.

Socializing your dog takes patience and lots of praise. It’s like any other training procedure: Take your time, use praise liberally, and keep calm. It’s very important to adequately socialize your dog because both you and your dog will be happier!

Julia Black


How Dogs Express Themselves

Ask any devoted dog owner and she’ll tell you that dogs definitely express emotions. The potential problem is when we use human emotions and experiences to decode what a dog is trying to say. Here are five behaviors and the meanings behind them:

  1. BowPlay Bow. Most people recognize this; the dog with his front legs on the ground and his butt up in the air. This is a relaxed dog telling another dog (or his human) that everything is okay and he wants to play.
  2. Sniffing. All dogs sniff, of course, because that is a major way they decode the world. But when you’re taking your dog for a walk and you encounter another dog, sniffing is a way to tell the other dog that everything is okay and they just want to pass.
  3. Sitting. Sometimes dogs seem to sit at the most inopportune times. Sitting is not always just a way for them to rest, it also is a mechanism for the dog to cope with an overwhelming situation.
  4. Go Between. Sometimes two dogs start to play a little too aggressively and another dog that is present may walk in between the two dogs to diffuse the situation. Acting as the go-between helps the two playing dogs to take a step back and resume playing in a more gentle way.
  5. Arc. Canine etiquette dictates that meetings take place from the side rather than head on. This allows the dogs an opportunity to sniff each other first. You should always keep this in mind if you encounter another dog on your walk or in social situations. Give them space and allow them to meet on their own terms.

Keep these behaviors in mind when trying to decipher what your pet is trying to say and how they are feeling.

julia sig


Tips for Greeting a Shy Dog

Many times a dog that has been mistreated or has not interacted much with humans or other dogs is shy. One way a dog deals with greeting someone new is to be fearful and possibly aggressive. I have a shy dog and these guidelines are invaluable in ensuring her interactions with strangers are positive. Here are some important tips to remember when faced with a shy dog.

Fear Aggression

Before you greet a dog you know or suspect may be fearful, you MUST be aware of fear aggression. Dogs, like most animals, have a fight or flight response. If scared, they will either run or fight. Some fearful dogs, especially if they are on leash or backed against the wall of a kennel and feel they have no way to run, become aggressive and will bite out of fear, hoping you will leave them alone.

Signs of Fear in Dogs

  • Stiff body posture
  • Low tail carriage not typical for the breed
  • “Turn and freeze” – meaning when you reach your hand toward them, they will quickly turn their head toward it and then “freeze.” This is a warning that they can and may bite
  • Whites of the eyes showing
  • Ears low and/or back if it is not typical for the breed
  • Baring of teeth
  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Lunging

Dog BiteThe last three tend to cause the most confusion for a dog owner. They see a dog at the end of a leash acting like that and they immediately assume the dog is dominant, wants to greet, is excited, etc. However, some dogs are using this as a way to say, “I’m scared. Go away!” Regardless of the reason, if a dog is giving you those signals, it’s best to stay away.

Greeting the Shy Dog

If the owner says “My dog is shy,” PLEASE listen to the owner! It is really best to just ignore the dog. Does a shy kid want every single person coming up to them and not only talking to them but trying to touch them? No and neither does the shy dog.

If you must greet…

Sometimes you may need to touch the dog – groomer, pet sitter, dog walker, family member, vet assistance, rescuer, potential adopter, etc. If so, follow these tips to make sure the greeting is a positive one, and to help prevent getting bit by a scared dog.

  • Move slowly! Fast movements make a nervous dog even more worried about you
  • Approach from the side
  • Avoid direct eye contact. Keep an eye on the dog’s face and emotions by taking quick glances from the side, do not stare into their eyes, as this is threatening.
  • Treats. Do not underestimate the power of food! Start from a distance by tossing food to the dog. This associates you with something good.
  • Listen to the DOG, not the owner. The owner may tell you it is fine to pet their dog because they are not good at reading her signals. Use your judgment. If the dog’s body posture says “go away,” – heed the warning.
  • Do not reach for the head. If the dog’s body signals are telling you it is okay to pet them, reach for under the chin or the chest. Most dogs do not enjoy having their head touched.
  • Do not bend over the dog. Instead, kneel, sit, or crouch near the dog. This is a lot less threatening than you looming over him.
  • Speak softly, calmly, and soothingly. Loud, high pitched, or gruff tones will make the dog more nervous.
  • Pet softly, slowly, and no patting! A shy dog may have been abused, even a soft pat could be taken wrong. Use soft, slow strokes.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it will help you learn a bit more about dog body language and how to have a successful meeting with a shy dog.

Remember, the best advice to avoid being bitten is: IF YOU ARE IN DOUBT, DON’T GREET THE DOG!


(This information was summarized from THIS WEBSITE.)

julia sig

Tips for Training Your Dog

There are many responsibilities associated with having a pet and one of the most important ones is training. Training your dog is important because dogs, like children, need boundaries and to know what is considered good behavior. Dogs that don’t know the rules are often on edge trying to figure out what we want from them. It’s not fair to punish a dog when we haven’t spelled out the rules of behavior. Having a well-trained dog helps build your relationship with him and helps create a harmonious household which is better for everyone. Here are 12 tips to make your training sessions more successful.

#1: TIMING. The number one tip to successful training is timing. If you have great timing you will train faster, more efficiently, and more consistently.

#2: FOOD TRAINING. Use food-based training to establish positive, motivated patterns in your dog. Use their daily food ration to teach them to look to you for leadership, reward, and responsibility. Be careful not to overfeed your dog and don’t use treats that are high in calories or you might create a weight problem.

#3: MOTIVATION. Motivation is more than “good dog.” It is an attitude of motivated behavior. Dogs follow a leader who is fair, positive, and motivates them to perform. Motivation teaches them what is acceptable and what is not. You will achieve more through being motivated than you will through being forceful.

#4: CRATE TRAINING. Crate training is a must. It is not cruel to place a dog in a crate; it plays on denning behavior in animals. It gives your dog time to be calm and quiet and channels their energy when they are working.

#5: STRUCTURE. Structure your dog’s day. Don’t allow them to act inappropriately and then punish them for doing so. Establish patterns for going potty, working for food, walking on a leash, playing with other pets, etc. Think of it as sending your child to school – structure!

#6: REAL WORLD TRAINING. Practice with your dog in real world settings. This means setting a good foundation first and then moving out into the world. Practice at the front door, in the street, at the park, and wherever you like to spend time with your dog.

#7: FOUNDATION. Creating a solid foundation for your dog will teach them what is expected of them. Start with a basic set of rules and add to that.

#8: BABY STEPS. Train in baby steps. Take things slowly. You achieve better results through building on positive behaviors than you will by allowing things to crash and burn.

#9: SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. Rome wasn’t build in a day! It takes time to achieve great results and you need to be realistic in what you expect. Think of training your dog as teaching a small child. They are willing to learn if you are willing to teach.

#10: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. You cannot expect results without learning to carry out the patterns. You must practice at least a few minutes a day to ensure success. More so, you will find practice will become part of your daily routine. Bring your dog into your world gradually, step by step. Teach them what you like, and what you don’t want, so that they can understand. And practice what you learn.

#11: SEND YOUR DOG TO SCHOOL. The reality is that dog training is like going to school. Learning can be fun if applied in a positive and creative way.

#12: HAVE FUN! Be kind, respectful, and most of all have fun with your dog!

(This information was found HERE.)

Now get out there and start training!

julia sig