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How Do You Raise a Well-Adjusted Dog?

Jayme Feary in a blue winter jacket stands in a snowy dog park with 5 dogs surrounding him.
Jayme Feary socializes dogs at a dog park.

These days people take their dogs everywhere. Temperatures permitting, we take them in the car to run errands, to restaurant patios, to the bank, and even on vacation. As such, today's dogs need to be very well-adjusted and behaved in a variety of places and situations. How does a person teach his or her dog to be a stellar citizen?

When I was a kid, I learned to swim by a swimming instructor throwing me in a pool and yelling, "Swim, swim!" Of course, other people were in the pool to save me if necessary, but I didn't think about that. I'm guessing better teaching methods existed, but I learned to swim, and fast. In my experience, the best way to build a socially well-behaved dog is to throw him or her in the pool so to speak.

From the youngest age possible, take your dog everywhere. Walk him or her on city sidewalks and into every business and home that will allow them. Hike them on trails. Introduce them to people, traffic, noises, and a variety of animals, you name it. Let them meet hundreds of people and dogs. In short, socialize them like crazy. Before long, not much will bother them.

The best approach is to start when he or she is a puppy, but the same process will work with an older dog, though it may take a bit more time.

I learned this process years ago when a member of a citizens mounted police unit. Our horses had to go through an intensive training process of facing every type of scary situation imaginable until nothing scared them anymore. I was astonished by my horse's new confidence and his ability to remain steady during the most stressful situations. His new countenance helped even when trail riding or dragging calves to the fire. So we members of the mounted unit began socializing and desensitizing our non-police horses, too, because it relaxed them and gave them confidence. Even if they hadn't encountered a particular situation, because of their intensive training they handled it with no problem.

Dogs are similar. The key to the process is your willingness to take them places and introduce them to new situations, to various people and to different places. This effort on your part will pay huge dividends over the lifetime of your dog.

There are few things more pleasing than having a well-behaved, well-adjusted dog. If you need help or advice in getting there, give us a shout and we'll advise you the best we can.


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