Celebrating the major events in dog socialising (through dog walks)
Why does eating a treat on a dog walk become a breakthrough in socialisation?Kooper is our resident Chihuahua who was rescued in America after being debarked, and like many small dogs, he was exclusively a house dog until his owner recently contacted us for walks to get him to be more social. With limited off lead previous walks and uncertain recall he has been for on lead walks with our social pack for only about a month now. BUT today was a big breakthrough for him as it was the first time, on the Healthy Dog Treat seat in the local park, that sitting with all the rest of the pack he took and ate his first treat!
Traditionally dogs that are not taken for regular walks, especially off lead walks while they are young, can really struggle with being at ease with all dogs and people. We dont know the early history of Kooper except that currently he is the alpha dog in the house, scaring Murphy the old spitz into anxiety. Social dogs don't need aggressive dominance to keep their pack in order - usually its just an established thing that requires no conflict.
In the park Kooper just bottles his anxiety up, but is very quickly learning by observation what it is to be a social dog. How you can just run and sniff and do what you like, as long as you don't challenge dogs who don't want to play, and in particular dogs that are not social. But a side affect of non socialisation is that many dogs will not take treats when out, or around other dogs - they have fear of causing a fight over the food resource.
Well today Kooper refused the first treat option as he has always done, but after I made a second round of offers, he took the treat in his mouth and had a mini chew and ate it. I fed the rest of the dogs a third round of beef liver treats, and Kooper ate a second helping !
THIS is a massive thing for his confidence and his level of ease with the pack. He is taking on the packs friendly energy, their confidence and is seeing that social eating of treats is natural, not a thing to be feared. He won't be challenged for food that I give him by the other dogs. They know they will get what they need and their day will be fun and they are much more interested in just having a fun day out.
That is what makes this day so satisfying ! Well done Kooper, we knew you would get there !