It is absolutely vital to socialize the dog–to expose him to positive experiences with a wide variety of people, dogs, other animals, sights, sounds and places. That means babies, toddlers, teenagers, men, women, people in uniform, cats, crowds, bicycles, skateboards, shopping carts, strollers, traffic–anything he’s likely to encounter in daily life. The sooner this is started, the better. Begin when the pup is less than 12 weeks old (from 8 weeks is ideal) and attend puppy socialization classes. Heavy socialization is the single smartest investment that can be made in a dog.
One of the main reasons pet dogs bite is because they feel threatened by something they can’t flee. From the dog’s point of view, aggression is a natural way to make the scary thing go away. Just because a situation doesn’t seem frightening to you doesn’t mean it won’t spook your dog. To a wary, unsocialised dog, the mere presence of an unfamiliar person may seem like a threat and the majority of dog bites are fear-based and usually by a dog that is known to the victim.
Early puppy training, conditioning and socialisation go a long way in preventing these behaviours. Dog owners only have on opportunity to get it right so remember 8 – 16 weeks of age is the crucial or critical period in the pup’s life.
The Dog Owner’s Role
The role of the dog owner, as the human in the household, should be to dole out resources. He is the keeper of the resources, which therefore makes him the top or “Alpha” dog. The canines in the household should be informed that the first 20 highest rankings have been taken by you and your human companions and they get to arrange themselves in the last few. There’s much less reason to fight over 21st and 22nd place than 1st and 2nd.
Owners and handlers can contribute to aggressive behaviour by such actions as:
• Keeping dog isolated in a yard or dog run
• Lack of socialisation by not providing the opportunity to make friends with other dogs or people outside the family
• Failure to correct aggressive behaviour, especially in puppies
• Allowing dogs to dominate the household. It is inappropriate for a dog to determine how his human family must live.
• Encouraging dogs to be dominant by rewarding aggressive behaviour.
The important thing is to ensure that Kindergarten Puppy Training followed by Basic Obedience Training is carried out for establishing good behaviours in the long-term.