Getting Socialization Right


When to start?

Puppies should be handled since birth, so if you are adopting from a rescue or purchasing from a breeder you should be asking about what the socialization looked like before your puppy came home.

Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior position statements state “It should be the standard off care for puppies to receive socialization BEFORE they are fully vaccinated.”

According to the AVSAB your puppy can start socialization as long as they have had 1 round of shots at least 7 days prior to starting their new class.  Waiting can mean you miss the window completely.  Watch this video to learn more, When to socialize

Are you reading your new puppy correctly?

One of the most important parts of your job as a new puppy parent is helping your puppy build confidence in following you and in the world around him.

In order to do a good job at this you have to be very keen on what your puppy’s body language is saying about what they are feeling.  You want to look out for any sign your puppy is unsure.  Now is the time to be a proactive and protective puppy parent.

What is socialization?

Socialization is not about letting your puppy play with as many dogs as possible and meet as many people as possible. It is about teaching your puppy the skills and habits necessary for participating within society; while being happy and confident in the world around him. Socialization for pups seems to be generally defined by many dog lovers as the act of meeting and playing with other dogs which can create many long term behavior problems, watch this video to learn more:socialization the right way

Breed snob, why it takes more than owning a breed to make a good owner.

Shelter workers know the line all too well, ” I am here to adopt a “insert breed here.” They don’t care about meeting the dog, or making sure the dog as an individual is a good fit, they are there and ready to adopt that dog based on breed.

When you ask them why they want the dog they simply state, “I’ve owned insert breed here all my life.”

While some of them make experienced and amazing homes, many are referencing the dogs they had growing up that their parents trained. They may not have experience in fixing preexisting challenges or have never really done much with the dogs they had.

As much as I hate to admit it I am guilty of being a breed snob.

I love the NEOs and the DDBs. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the dogs I work with. I find that a lot of my favorite shelter dogs or actually the chihuahuas and poms, but my whole life I’ve been drawn to Neos.

Like all breed snobs I feel that my breed special, and I feel that we only a certain type of person should own them. When we get them in to the shelter I can’t help but be a little bit more selective on who they go to.

Over the years I’ve begun to wonder does being a breed snob make you a better dog owner? Training professionally, has made me think the answer is” no”.

Hearing dog owners refer to their Cane Corsos as King Corsos makes me want to turn around and walk out of the house. How is it possible that you spent more than $1,000 on a dog without Googling how do at least pronounce the breed? I’m sorry, but the breeder you purchased the puppy from should have at least educated you on how to say the breed name properly.

I also frequently go to a home that’s complaining about typical breed problems.

Great Pyrenees owners complaining about their dogs barking at night and dashound people complaining about their dogs digging, what do you think they were bred for? My favorite is when the owner of a Cane Corso is guarding is complaining about their dog guarding the house and you ask them why they got a cane corso and they say they wanted a guardian. Hum🤔

It’s not so bad when it’s little irritating behaviors, but when you get into the more difficult breeds like the Cane Corsos, the presas and the NEOS you really need to know your stuff.

I have a client that purchased a really nice Neo from a breeder that is beyond amazing. She did her research, she’s had a history of owning giant breeds she has English Mastiff, NEOS, and Cane Corsos.

So, she goes to adopt a new Neo. They ask her, “what do you know about the breed? ”

She gives us that resume it looks really good on paper. History of owning giant breeds. What does she actually know about the breed? Has she brought ANY of these dogs to their full potential?

Since I know her as I client, I believe that she really shouldn’t be owning these dogs.

She didn’t have the time to commit to training she didn’t have the energy for socialization or exercise.

She might have owned multiple English Mastiffs and multiple Neapolitan Mastiffs, but SHE HAD FAILED ALL OF THEM.

Why did she keep going back for the same breed? Why do people keep giving her these dogs?

Her English Mastiffs did pretty well in her home with the exception of some aggression between the dogs in the home.

After her English Mastiff she decided to get her first Neo she did some research she found a pretty good breeder, but let’s face it it’s hard to find a healthy Neo. She brought one home and after a couple years learned he had medical issues and had to be put down. This neo was nice with people, but once again there was dog aggression.

She decided to get another Neo, she starts her research and finds a breeder who really goes through the health testing. She brings him home and does some basic in the house training.

She teaches them not to jump takes him a couple places when he’s young and then around the time he’s 6 months old she decides to get another dog, she brings another Neo into the home. The dogs are getting along famously and they’re getting along along with the kids in the home too. She no longer needs feels the need to take him out to socialize it. He’s socializing with their family dog after all just fine. He’s great with the people in the house. The second neo turns 1, and bites the husband causing 12 stitches. Three months later bites the youngest kid in the face while out in the backyard together. Then bites the husband again. They decided then to have a bbq and not put the dog away, he mauls a child that doesn’t live in the home.

So they ship him off to California and decide to get a cane corso, but their first neo never got socialization or training. That dog attacks the new puppy pretty badly, they get rid of the older dog and then APPROVED by a large breed specific rescue for a neo puppy, so now their two puppies can socialize and exercise each other.

Fast forward they are two years and she can’t control them enough to go for a walk together and they routinely redirect on each other when somebody’s walking by the house.

Just because she is on the breed does not make her a breed expert.

My question is what have done with your dogs? Have you help them reach their full potential? Or they simply yard ornaments?

I’ve owned “insert breed here” all my life.

What does that actually mean?

Have you owned “instert breed here” all of your lifetime and the dogs did nothing but sit in the backyard, go for an occasional walk and jump up on guests OR did you have a companion who you spent time training, taking places, maybe did a Canine Good Citizen with and took on adventures with you?

It is not about how many you have owned, it’s about the time and the energy you wish to invest in the relationship with your dog.

It is about seeking knowledge to develop an even stronger relationship with your dog and meeting your dog’s breed’s needs.

You may have owned 10 German shepherds, but you may have never learned to help them succeed.

Just because you have kids doesn’t make you a good parent and just because you’ve owned a certain breed doesn’t make you an expert.

Before Behavior Modification Starts: Prepping your dog to learn


Week one: NO TREATS

FEEDING, put your dog’s breakfast lunch and dinner portions in a zip lock bag or tuber ware container. You and the whole family hand feed the dog in different rooms throughout the day.  This allows your dog to build food drive which will give us an extra tool to use during the training process.

The next two days give your dog 1 handful at a time for simple cues like sit. The rest of the week mix up what you are asking your dog for; sit, down, stay, eye contact.  If your dog only knows sit, continue to use sit.

Food has monitary value to dogs so this builds their work ethic, so that when we challange them slightly they don’t stop working for us.

This week you will also have to set strict boundaries following the learn to earn program.  You should read about the learn to earn program before your first class and have implemented it for two weeks.  Click here to read about it: Learning to Earn

WALKING, even if you have a yard up your dogs walks to 15 extra minutes each day… so if you don’t normally go for walks you would take a 15 minute walk.

PLAY, play is a great tool for training. Encorage your dog to play with you for 10 minutes twice a day. Tug and fetch are ideal. Even if your dog is staring at you continue to try and teach them to play with you. Make sure it is just you and your dog, if you have other dogs put them away.

COMMUNICATION, “yes” will bridge the gap betwen what they did right and their reward. “Yes” should mark the correct behavior and should predict food or something that they like MORE then food.

To learn how to better communicate with your dog try reading this:communication with your dog

Week two: NO TREATS

FEEDING, invite people outside of the family over to handfeed your dog and handfeed your dog in different places like outside in the yard or on walks. This will prep your dog to accept treats in new places from new people which will make training easier.  If your dog has any bite history do not have others feed.  Instead reward your dog for sitting or making eye contact with you while strangers are around.

WALKING, add an extra 10 minutes to their existing 15 minutes of walking. If you don’t have a yard walking should be at least 25 minutes per day.

DAILY LIFE, nothing in life is free have your dog train for dog food, sit before each door and down or sit before each time being leashed up. Sitting before attention and accessing favorite toys are a must.

PLAY, up your play sessions to either 3 ten minute sessions or add five minutes to your exsisting sessions. This allows goes a long way in relationship building.

COMMUNICATION, continue teaching your dog that “yes” predicts either a treat or something that they like more then a treat.

Please read:

Please watch these videos because these are concepts that we will discuss during your first visit.  You will need to understand these concepts.

I love helping owners that want to help their dogs and the majority of my clients have dogs that have seriously injured dogs or people.  Due to this my time is limited and I want to see you be as successful as possible as quickly as possible, so that I can help more dogs.  If we are doing behavior modification with your dog and he has a bite history or a dangerous animal history you need to do your part.  Trainers can tell when you don’t practice and it hinders the speed of your dog’s progress.

Please follow this as closely as possible to ensure fast and smooth progress in training.

Top Nutritious Dog Treats

I really like to keep things nutritious and I encourage students to train as much as possible with their dog’s regular dog food.

In certain situations like new places, bigger distractions and with harder work using special treats is appropriate.

#6 I like this one, but it’s big chunks of crumbly-ness. It’s good for dogs that are very picky!

#5 Tried and True. A little crumbly, but not too bad. Stinky for picky dogs, but you have to take the time to precut and properly store.

#4 Less crumbly than the Nature’s Balance rolls, but I’m lazy and this one still has to be cut up and stored.

# 3 Precut pieces, not to crumbly. Strong smell that dogs love, even very picky ones. The down side… a little expensive and there are always small crumbs in the bottom.

#2 Love these! Perfect size, several flavors dogs love and very healthy! The down side… baby puppy teeth have a hard time chewing this so it is better for dogs and puppies with adult teeth.

# 1 Freeze dried, yet not to crumbly. Good for dogs with sensitive tummies and food allergies. Healthy and you don’t have to cut it up ahead of time. Stores easily.