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  • Richard Chan

No Touch Socialization

Many people think to socialize a dog in public we should allow the dog to be touched by many people.

This may work for some dogs, but l have met a lot of reactive/anxious/aggressive dogs who were "socialized" this way.

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario: a child on his bike wanted to touch my dog. l said okay. He came to pet the dog but accidentally his bike fell on my dog which caused my dog serious pain. My dog then became scared of bikes and children approaching him. Whenever my dog saw a child or a person riding a bike he would bark and lung at them.

When a negative event happens under my watch, the dog will lose his trust in me as an advocate who can control his surrounding and protect him. A dog that does not trust his owner can often become reactive/aggressive.

Let's consider the child on a bike scenario again but l will handle it my way this time: I will say "no" to the child on the bike politely, and give my dog lots of treats as the child on a bike approaches and leaves. My dog will learn that seeing a child on a bike is a good thing because of the treats, and he learns that he does not get rewarded going to the child but when he looks up to me he will get rewarded. This way, he will not be afraid of bicycle or children and he will not look to the child on the bike for a reward--he will turn to me for his reward. The default response is to ignore distractions and engage in me.

Over time, a dog socialized this way will learn to be confident and brave because his experience with the outside world has always been positive; but he will also learn to stay focused on me among all the distractions because looking to me is what got him his reward.

He will not be afraid or hate other dogs or people or bicycles or whatever the world may throw at him. He will also not try to drag me to these people or dogs for affection or treats. He will engage in me. He knows the best option is to look to me and trust me and everything will be fine. That is what l want to achieve through socialization


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