The social life
My husband and I spent several hours at the County Fair yesterday; County, not Country. As we wandered around; the difference between country and county we're vast. Crowds are not my thing so I was more than happy that we made our visit early and the crowds held off until later. There were only two dogs that we saw as we wandered through the rides, displays and vendors. Both dogs were "official" working dogs. One was a Seeing eye dog in the making; the other a therapy dog. Being able to wander around a place like a Fair is a wonderful way to socialize a dog. There is such a huge variety of people, sounds, sights and sensations.
Unfortunately; unless your dog is an "official" working dog, holding a bona fide certificate then you are out of luck at these very social places. But you can get your socializing done in lots of other places. Parks, outdoor cafes, friends houses, outdoor malls, many shops allow dogs and all pet stores do and changing the time you visit each gives you a whole different array of both people and other dogs. So just how important is socializing; getting your pup out into the world to experience it all? Socialization is one of the most important things to do with new puppies, new dogs or inexperienced dogs. The more variety things that your dog is introduced to which produces a positive association; the easier life becomes. Positive experience equals a less stressful life. Keeping a dog sheltered in a home or backyard handicaps their social skills and their ability to deal with day to day life.
Through life experience; interactions and changes in environmental stimulus a dog grows and so does their capacity to experience more. Once a dog is well socialized and seasoned; a situation which may have previously caused a fearful or aggressive reaction will no longer motivate the same response. Just the other day Luke and I were at the park; a woman walked by us wearing a very large hat and walking sort of crooked with her arms held out in front of her. I thought how this would have surely made Luke stop and growl when he was young but now he is such a seasoned guy that he doesn't see this as something to fear any longer.
When a dog reacts in an undesirable manner we can only teach through example. We cannot explain that these things are nothing to worry about; we must show them. And the best way to display a "no big deal" attitude is to chill.