What is it?
Socialization is the developmental process whereby puppies and adolescent dogs familiarize themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not-so-good.
Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce her to often and in a positive manner in the first 6 months of her life. Then you have to make sure she stays comfortable with all these new things.
Proper socialization combined with positive reinforcement-based training in the context of a group puppy class helps puppies grow into well-adjusted pets.
But puppies love everything already!
Sure they do. Until the early stage of their development draws to a close at approximately 16 weeks of age. At that point, they become wary of other dogs if they have met too few. And down the road, puppies can become shy or growly around children or strangers, too, unless they have met and enjoyed meeting a bunch of them.
Under-socialized dogs are at much greater risk of developing all sorts of behavioral problems stemming from fear—aggression, agoraphobia, and reactivity towards certain people and animals, for example.
Teach your puppy that the world is safe and prevent behavior problems in the future.
How to socialize your puppy.
Step 1. If your puppy seems even a bit nervous, move a little distance away, give her treats, and then walk away—anything she is unsure about should be encountered in short bursts.
Step 2. As soon as your puppy seems more relaxed, try again. As she sees or hears the thing that scared her before, start your cheerful praise and break out the treats.
Step 3. If your puppy did not seem nervous with the new thing or acts curious about it after she has been treated, go back and let her investigate a little more. Again, praise and treat.
I am so proud to be a part of the Veteran's Service Dog Training Program at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla. Last Friday I attended the graduation ceremony where the first batch of service dog candidates crossed the stage in a heart filled celebration. From here they will continue on to the public access training phase and then will be matched with veterans.
It’s More Than Lip Service
Today is the day we pay our respects the selflessness and sacrifice of those who have served our country, but it takes more than acknowledgement to improve the lives of our veterans and their families. It takes commitment and sacrifice of our own. That’s why Doc’s Dogs for Vets has teamed up with Yosemite Bark Training Services and Valley State Prison in Chowchilla to initiate a non-profit volunteer program to train rescue dogs to become service dogs for veterans.
Our First Class
On October 24th 4 dogs joined 11 inmate trainers at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California and began the journey to become service dogs for Veterans. They were greeted with big smiles, opens arms and handfuls of treats. Clark, Samson, Sierra and Wallace were specially selected from Fresno Humane Animal Services using specific temperament evaluations to determine their capability as service dogs.
Health Checks Provided by Pet Medical Center and Spa
The dogs then completed medical evaluations donated by Pet Medical Center in Spa in Fresno, California to determine their health status. The medical evaluations screen candidates for structural imbalances, genetic illnesses and hearing or vision problems. Once the dogs successfully completed the medical evaluations, they were vaccinated and altered.
Training Directed by Yosemite Bark
All training is using force free, science based methods. No prong, choke or shock collars, no yelling, hitting or harsh leash corrections are allowed. The program uses a positive reinforcement philosophy that focuses on rewarding appropriate dog behavior which makes behavior more likely to occur in the future. Using these methods serves a dual purpose to teach inmates they can influence one’s behavior, canine or human, without the use of pain, force or intimidation.
The dogs will live with their inmate trainers at Valley State Prison for 6 months to complete an extensive foundation training program which consists of learning over 50 commands.
Once the dogs complete their foundation training they will then start their socialization process which will condition the dogs to be relaxed and confident while performing their newly acquired skills around hundreds of sights, sounds and smells.
And Finally to the Veterans
After the general training is completed, the dogs will be matched with a Veteran. Once matched, the dogs will start the task training portion which is specifically designed to their veteran’s needs. Assistance Dogs International (ADI) requires that each dog is specifically trained to perform 3 or more tasks to mitigate a person’s disability. The dogs will need to successfully perform these tasks in a multitude of environments before they are placed with the veteran and they complete the public service access test and are certified as a team.
Doc’s Dogs for Vets
Doc's Dogs for Vets (a 501 c 3), located in Raymond, CA was formed by the Pleitez family in honor of their son, Spc. Benjamin Pleitez, an army medic who died in 2012 while serving his country in Afghanistan.
The dogs will go at no cost to Veterans. Doc’s Dogs for Vets is committed to pursuing their Assistance Dogs International accreditation which has been designed for non-profit organizations.
The purpose of ADI is to:
The journey to become a service dog is a long one indeed, and yet it seems but a tiny gesture compared to the price veterans have paid. Today we gather together across America to pay tribute, remember, and honor those who have served our great country, but making their lives better is an on-going commitment. The dedicated volunteers in the Service Dogs for Vets program are up to the challenge.