Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all political on you (Though we hope everyone is voting in the primaries. Every vote counts!) Rather, I want to talk about how important it is to socialize your dog, how important teaching good manners is and how to reinforce those good manners while continuing to work on things to improve on.
We were pretty lucky in the early socialization part- Tucker was exposed to many different people pretty much as soon as we picked him up from the breeder (and I’m sure socialization began at Ivywest as well). We live in an apartment complex. so he met several people of all different backgrounds right away and is generally not afraid of anyone (with the exception of Santa Claus. He hates Santa).
It was also Christmastime so he was exposed to my family of dogs, babies, aunts and uncles and grandparents! However, socialization is not just meeting people and other dogs- it’s exposing dogs to different environments, sights, smells and sounds. Tucker barely reacts to a fire truck siren or planes overhead as we have them constantly in our neighborhood.
It’s also taking your dog to obedience class- no matter how old! They can teach you all the great stuff. Clicker training is also great! If they are a puppy, you should also check if there are “puppy parties” at your obedience schools where puppies of similar ages can meet and play in a safe environment.
Anything that was dog friendly that we felt safe enough for Tucker to go to, we went to so that he could experience it and we could practice good behaviors. We made sure we took him on car rides so he would get used to it as we go up to Pennsylvania a lot (about 5 days after he got neutered, we drove him in the car to the park. I was so nervous he was going to associate the car with getting his balls chopped off and wanted to make sure he remembered the car meant good things! ) We took him to dog friendly wineries early on so he knew how to act around others (and because I really like wine). We took him on neighborhood outings and to 5K races where there’s lots of activity buzzing around. I can’t say everything has been a success- Tucker gets very excited when there’s a lot of people around or its outside his normal routine so he pulls a lot on his leash. We continue to work on having him walk nicely on the leash and focus on us. He generally doesn’t bark at others and many times he’ll lay down for other dogs as they approach.
We’re continuing to work on his jumping and excitement when he sees people he knows. This is tricky for me as sometimes it’s happening in a frenzied situation and I get frenzied as well. He’s good around other dogs and kids, but if they get excited, Tucker turns into an excited mess. I have to remember he’s still young and I have to get him to concentrate on me, while at the same time, explaining to whoever wants to see and pet him, that they need to wait until Tucker can calm down. This is easier said than done since half the time it happens as we’re waiting for the elevator and I’m usually in a rush and someone comes out and is like TUCCCKKKKER! I swear, he’s like Norm on Cheers. Also, who doesn’t love a wiggly golden retriever? Even a grandma at the winery didn’t care that Tucker jumped up on her. She actually yelled at her adult son because he got Tucker all excited and was playing with him. Go Grandma Go! Though, ultimately it is up to us to make sure Tucker knows we are boss and he can’t jump on a grandma (or anyone else for that matter. Especially Santa. Can’t Jump on the Jolly Guy). Concentration is the key with Tucker as the more people are around, the more he struggles to concentrate as me as there are distractions everywhere.
As always, I’m not a vet, or a dog trainer, I’m just telling you my experience. I continue to learn as I go and would love to hear your experiences!