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(Podcast) #PetParentsAsk Ep. 2: What Are the Best Tips to Socialize an Adult Dog?


I just adopted a two-year-old pup a few weeks ago, and he is not socialized. What are the best tips to socialize an adult dog? He does great when walking until he sees a person or a dog he doesn't know. He cowers down and tries running in the opposite direction. I've tried treats and toys to redirect him, but he will not show any attention to me. Or he'll freeze in place and bark. And I can't get him to walk in the other direction with me. He will use all his weight to stay in one spot.


 So what we have here is a two-year-old that got rescued, a few weeks ago, that is not socialized and it sounds like he's putting the brakes when they're out on walks.


This can of course be very frustrating when you're hoping to socialize, go for walks, bathroom breaks because it sounds like this dog is just ready to freeze. And isn't really ready to move forward or isn't really ready to handle outdoor situations that he is in. We don't have a lot more information other than that.


But this is pretty common as far as a dog that, whether it's a rescue or a puppy, a dog that's having a tough time coping with his environment and has not yet spent too much time with the pet parent. To build that bond that's going to help him choose to move forward.


Just as it's stated here.   I can't get him to walk the other direction with me.  So what she's referring to, and I don't know if she's purposely trying to do this, but, when we're walking with a dog and whether they're reactive or just unsure or, they don't know how to handle the environment, we'll do what we call a reset.


Which means we're gonna help the dog take space by walking in the other direction to get them to refocus on us. This is something that's actually, I'm glad that, this person has tried, but it sounds that he's putting all his way to stay in that one spot and that's where the problem can very much lie.


So what I would say to this, Is if I'm walking with a dog where I don't yet have, that much of a strong bond, cuz it, it's only been a few weeks. A few weeks is enough to develop a bit of a bond. However, if they're going through scenarios that are maybe too challenging for both of them as described here, they're not really getting, Anywhere when it comes to walking, they're not really sure how to handle it.


What I would recommend instead is making the walks a lot easier. There may perhaps be some expectations as far as, how long the walk needs to be or how far they need to go with a rescue or an eight-week-old pup. I would keep the walk very short and sweet, because not only will it make it easier for the dog to navigate, To feel as though they can do it, but also make it so they feel as though they can do it with you.


And so that's what's gonna be very important here when we're working on building the relationship of a dog with their new handler or pet parent. We wanna make sure that is done. In a way that feels successful to them both dogs very much learn by association and so do we, but especially dogs.


And so if the walk is something that's uncomfortable, and of course, it's being done with this pet parent, then it all jumbles together. And so what I would do is keep the walks very short. Very sweet. I would maybe try to figure out at which point during the walk, perhaps it's five minutes in, or, it's five meters into the walk or two feet out.


At what point is my dog maybe letting me know or showing me that he is, a little concerned, weary? Perhaps afraid, unsure, because that's when I would start doing the resets, which is what they're trying here. They're probably trying to do them when it's too late. When the dog's already barking over threshold, overwhelmed by then, it's too late and the dog just is just shutting down at that point.


So what I would do instead, is again, keep those walks very short, where our reset should, in theory, be a lot more successful then, and what that might look like practically in the first few days. Or even just the first day where you want to go for a walk. Other than the bathroom break, hopefully, if you have a backyard, you can have your dog go there.


But even then, if you can just take a few steps to the nearest grass patch. Have their bathroom break be done there, I would then go back home and then maybe an hour later, half an hour later, go for another little walk, but, don't make it anywhere further than the previous one.


Keep it very short and sweet and make it so that they're enjoying every step of it by keeping it short, keeping it in the way where they come back home feeling as though this wasn't so bad. Maybe next time I'll go a little bit further out. But this has to be built with time and this is what's gonna let your dog know.


When I'm on a walk with you, it doesn't feel too bad, it doesn't feel too bad walking with you, and so I'm gonna be a little bit more responsive to your guidance. This person mentioned that they're trying to use treats, to redirect and toys, and those are all very good attempts. But the fact that they haven't worked lets me know that bond is not necessarily there yet, but even more so that the dog is probably already over threshold, meaning the dog has already, for a little while now, it could be a few seconds to a few minutes, has already been potentially displaying signs of discomfort or feeling unsure, weary, but the handler probably has not picked up on that.


And so by the moment, or at the point where the handler does pick up on it, it's potentially too late. So I would definitely go back into baby steps. Pretend as though this two-year-old dog is actually a two-month-old pup, and break things down in ways where they feel successful, both to you and your dog.


Because ultimately the amazing thing with dogs is they're never gonna ask you why or when they can get to that next point. An eager dog will, maybe do that but then you know, you can move on to the next one, one that isn't too sure. Take your time. The more you can. Be in the moment.


Slow down. Just be with them. Their own curiosity is going to show you that they're ready for the next step. But even then, just take it slow. Take it one step at a time. If something seems too difficult, make it easier. Once it feels too easy, then take that next step. Your dog is not in a rush and this is what's going to let them know.


Hey, this person does listen to me. This person does hear me out. And so that will very much strengthen your bond and help you guys overcome the challenges that will come later on once your dog is maybe in scenarios where, there's a dog that just came outta nowhere and this is very difficult.


That's when your dog is most likely to go. Okay, that's challenging. But I know that if I check in with you or if I just listen to, your cues that I'll be okay. So let's go ahead and do that. But until then, Keep things short and sweet, break them down into what you feel is doable for both you and your dog, and take it from there.


Okay?

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