What does it mean to operationalize something? Operationalize - describe or define something. In terms of training it will often be used to describe an action, behavior, or series of events. For instance, if someone says their dog is “reactive” to operationalize would be to describe it in detail. In terms of socialization, we operationalize it by not just giving a definition, but describing it in detail.
Socialization - Habituating anything to the things that it will experience in life. Sights, smells, sounds, textures, experiences, etc.
“Helping the the dog figure out what the hell is going on in the world”
Your dog will socialize with or without us. We want to make sure we give them opportunities to learn early on to help them cope with their emotions short and long term. Socialization gives them tools to deal with scary things in life.
When should I start socializing my dog? Consult your vet about health and safety Socialization is a behavioral vaccine. So make sure to start socializing early and doing it often. Find pet friendly spaces where exposure to disease or viruses are less of an issue Use internet services like YouTube to simulate situations in small amounts, such as fireworks, thunder, construction noise, traffic sounds, etc. It doesn’t help us to underexpose our puppies to things because we are afraid of the dog getting exposed to illnesses, but find those creative ways and places to socialize the dog to other things in safe environments. Socialization is on-going. Do not stop working on it once they are a little older.
“It’s a lot easier to socialize your dog to do it early on” to prevent reactivity or you may need to counter-condition your dog.
Reactive or Reactivity - Over excitement or arousal to certain things. Often mistaken for aggression. Counter-Conditioning - Taking something that could be perceived as negative or making it a positive or at least a neutral. Normally done building positive associations with the thing that is seen as bad or may cause reactivity.
It’s always easier to prevent a problem using socialization, than to have to fix the problem when they are older.
Ask your breeder what they have done to socialize the puppy.
What are favorite places to socialize puppies? Starbucks - dogs aren’t allowed in, but the drive-thru is a good socialization experience for your puppy. Lowe’s - Dog friendly, good in any season, but changes with the seasons which creates good opportunities for new smells, sounds, and experiences. Stasis and customers are pretty cooperative as well. Pet stores - Dog to dog exposure. A lot of distractions, food, treats, toys. Good opportunity to teach puppies that they cannot meet every dog and person that they see. Public Parks and Trails (please respect and follow local leash laws) *Barnes and Noble *Hobby Lobby or Micheals *If you aren’t sure, make sure to call ahead of time to ask if they allow dogs.
Be cautious and intentional about dog park time. Lack of accountability and training between other owners and dogs can become extremely problematic. Dog parks with more stringent requirements and documentation are going to be better than those that are not.
Help your dog learn to be okay with other dogs by just going near a dog park and reinforcing the dog for being relaxed in the presence of other dogs.
What are the more important things to socialize your puppy to, best starting point? It’s all important, but the issues you want to nip in the bud is fear of humans. So it’s important to start early on dog-human interaction. Dog to Human Dog to Dog Fireworks! Even simulated. The groomer The vet Their walking gear Socialize your dog to experiences and sounds that you anticipate they will need to be okay with in life.
Are there ways that people may think they are socializing the dog but are really punishing the dog? Yes. You must be cognizant to understand the dog and do what he enjoys and not what you enjoy. We need to educate ourselves on how to read our dogs and if we force them into situations because we think that they “need” the exposure, we only stand to increase fear in our dog. Take slow steps towards those things and reinforce small steps towards that goal and be happy with it. Be aware and knowledgeable about how to recognize the stress in your dog and listen to those cues.
IN SUMMARY Know your dog Read your dog Be Creative If something is too much for your dog, back off and ease into those things as the puppy is ready. Quality over Quantity. It’s not about the amount of people or dogs your dog meets, but more about making sure those experiences are positive ones. If you have questions please visit us in facebook, instagram, or email us. Find out how to do that with this link: https://www.whatsupdogpod.com