Small Dog Socialization
Yesterday, Roxy and I visited "Pet-a-poolza" in Yaletown, Vancouver and then we went to the "Pet Expo" in Ladner. Both events focused on dogs rather than pets, which was fine for Roxy! Roxy was given lots of treats and sample foods to take home - she was very excited.
Although Roxy lives with a number of other pets, she doesn't often get to interact and socialzie with other dogs. When she was younger, we went to the local off leash dog park and she ran up to the big dogs as if she was the same size. One other dog put his mouth around her waist and lucky didn't bite down, but it was very scary! Roxy was the same size as this dogs chew toy and his mouth covered her whole body - everything but her head and tail fit into that dogs mouth. If that dog had bit down, even if by mistake, we would have been in trouble. We don't often go to the dog park. In addition to the large dogs, Roxy isn't the greatest off leash and I prefer to avoid and accidents or confrontations with cars, people, and other dogs. Her leash will sometimes also tangle up with the other dogs, which makes her and the other dogs nervous - not a good situation.
However, at these two events, Roxy met many dogs, and had a great time. Most dogs were small to medium size - which was great for Roxy. Dogs were able to play in small pools, had many picture opportunities, and were introduced to new toys, clothing, and other pet supplies. I noticed that the small dogs would sniff each other and then move on, sometimes not even interested enough for a sniff, while the large dogs would appear excited to see another dog, give each other a sniff, and then also want to play with each other.
These events made me realize how little social interaction Roxy has had with other dogs, as a puppy and as an adult. I think that it is harder to socialize smaller dogs than large dogs, but I really don't know as I have never had a large dog.
What do you think? How do you socialize your dog?
I think that socialization is successful when the animal is introduced to something new, when the animal is challengd to think or act differently, and when the activity is enjoyable. Mental as well as physical stiumlation are always benificial as well. It is very important to make sure that the animal feels successful in the activity. The activity has to be enjoyable, otherwise it isn't benifical. For example, kitten owners are told to touch the kittens paws, ears, and mouth often so that when the kitten gets older, it will feel comfortable being touched in those areas. This makes activities such as ear cleaning and pill feeding easier as well as a more freindly cat that wants likes to get pets and doesn't scratch you when you get close to uncomfortable areas. But people often forget or do not realize that simply touching the kitten in those areas is not enough. The kitten needs to ENJOY the expereience.
This makes me wonder how Roxy's expereicnes as a puppy with larger dogs has affected her personality with dogs now that she is older. First of all, she didn't have all that much experience with other dogs and I wonder how she would be if she did go to the dog park more often. Roxy does not appear to interested in other dogs. She will sniff them a bit but then quickly loses interested. She isn't agressive, doesn't bark, and usually likes to say hi, so I think that she is comfortable around other dogs. But, I have never seen her play with other dogs and she doesn't play on her own with toys around other dogs. Do you have a small dog that plays with other dogs? Did you encourage your dog to play with other dogs? How?
In general, or at least in Roxy's case, I think that small dogs are not as interested in other dogs, or maybe it is just that small dogs don't expereicne other dogs as much so therefore show no interest to play with other dogs.