Properly socializing your diabetic alert dog is very important. Not only does your dog need to be at ease around people and other animals, it also needs to be comfortable on different surfaces, around strange noises, with different vibrations etc.
It’s important to understand a few things before starting to socialize the dog….
1.) Fear Periods – These are periods in the dogs development where lasting associations can be formed. Bad associations made during these periods can be very hard to overcome. Be very careful and cautious during fear periods. 7 to 16 weeks and 6 mo to 14 mo.
2.) Ability to Read the Dog – The ability to read the dog is important because it gives you the opportunity to react to subtle signs of stress, before the dog goes over threshold and totally shuts down or lashes out. Watch body posture, position of the tail and ears, licking of lips etc.
3.) Vaccinations – I don’t recommend having your dog out in public until they are fully vaccinated.
When we socialize a prospective diabetic alert dog we want the dog to be comfortable around people and other animals but, not seeking attention from them. Our dog’s focus should be on their handler.
How do we do that? Well we get the dog around a few people who are willing to ignore the dog and then start working with the dog using a pretty rapid rate of reinforcement. The idea is to keep the dog focused on you. If the dog should go over and check somebody out or, jump on them, the other person ignores the dog and the behavior is not rewarded.
Important Point: In almost everything we do with the dog, we want the dog to understand that all good things come from the handler. Focus on the handler and really good things will happen!
To Be Continued….