Properly Socialize Your Bird Dog Puppy

If you have a puppy, you should know that socializing is a crucial part of caring for your new hunting dog. The unsocialized puppy may end up biting out of fear, so it’s very important to socialize your dog. If you’re looking to start social training with your dog, here are some tips.

Puppy School

Puppy training classes can be a great asset to you and your puppy.  You’ll learn commands that will teach your puppy control himself, like sit, stay and quiet. You’ll also receive advice on socialization questions. Check with local pet stores or search online to find a puppy class near you.

A word of caution: keep shy puppies away from group training classes, as this can overwhelm. If your dog exhibits shy behvarior, like hiding from people or things, you should help him gain trust and confidence before starting on any dog training exercises.

Dealing with a Shy Dog

What do you do when your puppy is shy to the point of being afraid? Never force a fearful dog to accept petting. This increases his anxiety and could lead to fear biting. To help a shy puppy come out of his shell, you’ll need to do a “greeting circle”.  Here’s how:

To do the greeting circle, ask friends for some help. Everyone should sit in a circle with delicious treats on hand. Have them sit on a sideways angle, since this is non-threatening. Instruct everyone to avoid eye contact, sudden movements, or leaning or dominating behaviors which can scare the puppy.

The way to make this circle work is to have each person sitting in the circle put a treat in their hand and close their hand and extend it into the circle.  Once this is done you can each open up your hands and call to the puppy, and try to urge him to come to take the treat from your hand.  You should make sure that you’re using soft voices and offering encouraging words during this process, but don’t try to pet the dog until he comes to you for attention.

Go around the circle. Have each person encourage puppy to take the treat. Make it easy for your puppy.  When he learns the game and is voluntarily walking up to the next hand, you can change it up a bit by changing direction or having people call him at random.

Typically before you know it your will be going voluntarily to each person looking for his ‘treat’.  At this point you might want to consider introducing another dog into your circle to see if your puppy will still stay engaged.

The Play Date

The best way to introduce you dog is through play dates. He’ll have the chance to play with other dogs and meet people, which will help him open up. Make his first play date fun, and reinforce with positivity and praise. But watch carefully because a meeting with an unfriendly dog can leave an impact on the puppy.

Play dates should be arranged with relaxed, friendly dogs and people. Adult dogs can be considered, too, so if you know a friend with a very nice adult dog, start by arranging a play date with them.

Another option is to see if your local pet stores have play times that they open to the public – if they do they are typically offered at no cost. One thing to watch for is if your pup seems to be afraid or if he’s being bullied by another dog, remove him from the area right away so he’s not discouraged.

If you get the chance, take you puppy with you so that he can see, smell, and experience different things. Bring treats with you and reward him for good behavior. At the pet store, make sure he gets a treat the minute you walk in. Allow him to roam around and become comfortable on his own terms.

Puppies always attract people. If your puppy is approached by strangers who want to pet him, inform them that you puppy is being trained. Give them a treat to give to your puppy to help with the training.

 

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