Socializing Your Dog

Socializing Your Dog

How does your dog react to strangers?

  • Some dogs love everybody. My dog Buffy "never met a stranger", i.e. she treats everyone like a long-lost friend.

  • Some dogs are fine with their own family (and perhaps a few family friends), but aren't so keen on strangers.

  • Some dogs are fine with people of one sex -- but not the other sex.

  • Some dogs are fine with adults -- but not with children. (A few dogs are the opposite -- they're fond of kids, but wary of grown-ups.)

  • Some dogs are suspicious of certain physical features. For example, a hat, or dark sunglasses, or a beard, or a uniform. A few dogs are so observant that they may notice a person's skin color.

  • Some dogs dislike ALL strangers.

  • And some dogs basically ignore people. They will glance at a person, then go back to sleep. Their motto is: "Live and let live."

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How does your dog react to other dogs?

  • Some dogs love virtually every other dog.

  • Some dogs are good with other dogs they know well -- but not with strange dogs.

  • Some dogs are good ONLY with other dogs of the opposite sex.

  • Some dogs are tolerant with puppies -- but not with other adult dogs.

  • Some dogs are fussy about the SIZE of the other dog. They may dislike large dogs. Or they may dislike small dogs.

  • Some dogs are fussy about the BREED of the other dog. They may be fine with their own breed, but dislike other breeds. Or they may be fine with other breeds, but not with their own!

  • Some dogs are aggressive or timid with virtually every other dog.

  • And some dogs just ignore other dogs. Their motto is: "Live and let live."



Your dog's attitude toward people and other dogs comes from...

His breed

In some breeds, the GENES for temperament traits such as friendliness, suspiciousness, aggression, etc. are so strong and so prevalent throughout the breed that it is highly likely that your dog will inherit them.

For example, MOST Golden Retrievers inherit genes for friendliness. MOST Komondors inherit genes for suspiciousness. MOST Pit Bull Terriers inherit genes for aggression toward other dogs.


His parents

Whatever his breed, if your dog's parents had a particular attitude toward people and other dogs, your dog will inherit THEIR genes and will probably also mimic THEIR behavior. So if your dog's breed is usually friendly, but his particular parents were suspicious, he may end up suspicious. If his breed is usually suspicious, but his particular parents was friendly, he may end up friendly.



How long he was left with his mother and siblings

If removed before seven weeks old, a puppy will not learn essential canine social signals such as bite inhibition, which are taught by his mother and siblings during the first seven weeks of life.

Puppies brought home before seven weeks old very often end up mouthy and nippy, resistant to being handled, or aggressive or fearful with other dogs.

On the other hand, if a puppy lives with his mother or siblings for too LONG (more than 12 weeks), his position in the "pecking order" may be so established that he will always be inclined to act dominant (if he was at the top) or submissive (if he was at the bottom) toward people or other dogs.




His early experiences

Obviously, if your dog who was frightened by another person or dog early in his life, or if he acted inappropriately toward other people or dogs during his early life and wasn't corrected properly for this inappropriate behavior, you can expect him to be aggressive or fearful.



How well you socialize him

Socializing means getting your dog used to people, other dogs, and the big wide world in general.

Puppy socialization has the most dramatic effect on how your dog turns out. You must get your puppy out into the world between 7 weeks old and 6 months old.

Adolescent socialization is also critical. Adolescence begins between 6 and 9 months old, and ends between 1 and 3 years old. Larger breeds have the longer adolescent periods. Just as in people, adolescence in dogs can be an awkward time of change and upheaval. A teenage dog's attitude toward strangers and other dogs may change from week to week, even from day to day.

Adult socialization may not be able to change your dog's attitude toward people and other dogs, but it can control his behavior so that he doesn't ACT aggressive or afraid.

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Care and Training

Feeding

When you collect your puppy, your breeder should tell you what the puppy's diet has been to date, as well as recommendation as to the best food and feeding frequency in the future, both for while the dog is still a puppy as well as when the dog is an adult. You should try and follow the puppy's diet at the time you collect him from the breeder as best you can, until the puppy is settled in to its new environment. Then you can gradually change the diet to suit your preferences. Remember that sudden changes in diet can severely disrupt the puppy's digestive system and cause gastric distress. The Siberian requires a relatively small amount of food for his size. This trait may be traced to the origins of the breed, as the Chukchis developed their dogs to pull a light load at a fast pace over great distances in low temperatures on the smallest possible intake of food.

As for the type and "brand" of dog food, basically any reputable dog food manufacturer provides a dog food that is sufficient to keep a dog healthy. However, the premium brands of dog food have the advantage that one can feed the dog less and still get very good nourishment. In addition, stool size and amount is generally less with the premium dog foods. Keep in mind that feeding dogs is partly art, and partly science. The dog food manufacturers have done the science part. The rest is up to you. Some people feed their dogs a mix of canned and dry food twice a day. Others feed only dry and allow free feeding, and so on. Be sure and pick a frequency of feeding, brand, and type of food to suit your dogs needs. For working Siberians, a "performance" formula is in order. For Siberians that go for walks and hikes, a "maintenance" formula is usually best. Consult your breeder and veterinarian for advice.

One other thing worth mentioning here is how long to feed puppy food. Some research indicates that feeding puppy food for too long can increase the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs that are susceptible to it. Some breeders start feeding adult food very soon. Even though the Siberian is not fully mature until 18 months, most people gradually switch to adult dog food at the 8-10 month time frame. Again, this is something to discuss with your breeder and veterinarian.

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