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Copyright ©2002-2016 Dr. Jennie Chen. All images and articles are copyrighted. Unauthorized use is strictly Prohibited.
Maximus' Guide to Socializing
*My research specialty is behavioral social
neuroendocrinology, thus being heavy on the biology.
*My research specialty is behavioral social neuroendocrinology, thus being heavy on the biology.
is an integral part of development for all species; in fact, teenage humans
will die without socializing every few hours. In order to be good citizens
in public, dogs need to be very well socialized. This applies to all
breeds, not just Swissies. The new theory on the neurobiology of
socialization is the developmental receptor sites theory. In a
nutshell, the more stimulation (in our case: socialization) you get,
the more your receptor sites (for adrenaline, oxytocin, endorphins, etc...) in
the brain get stimulated ,and as Emeril says "get happy happy."
On the other hand, if there is no regular stimulation, more receptor sites will
develop leading to an over-abundance of sites. When stimulation finally happens,
overstimulation or overload of the abundant receptor sites will occur.
This typically causes the subject to shy away from the given stimulation in the
future. One analogy to clarify the concept is to that of vision.
When you are in a dark room (lack of stimulation), your pupils will dilate,
thus more receptors are available. Then when the light goes on
(stimulation), your eyes hurt (overload) and you turn away from the light
source. Unlike eyes, we can’t
turn receptor sites in the brain off and on so easily. Regardless of the theory, socialization is still one of the
most important things dogs need.
Note: references to stimulation in this article refers to positive stimulation i.e. petting, greeting, food rewards, etc...
Before we get any further, there are also a few basic rules to follow:
everyone likes dogs. No matter how cute or well-behaved your pooch is,
there will be others that will be deathly afraid of dogs, especially ones
weighing over 100 lbs. Steer clear of these people. They are the
ones most likely to complain to the management and try to get dogs banned from
2. Not all other dogs are friendly. There are people who will take their very unfriendly dogs out in public. Stay away from those too. Not only can your baby get hurt, but you can also get hurt trying to break up a fight.
Don't let your pup get in contact with strange dogs before vaccinations are
complete. This includes stray dogs that probably don't have the best medical
care. They could be harboring all sorts of diseases, fleas, mange, etc...
4. Its a good idea to keep a copy of your rabies vaccination in the car, just in case.
5. Don't allow your dog to destroy or eat items in stores. This will get you a quick "bye-bye." Also, pick up after your dog. No one wants to step into puppy poop.
Start small and then get creative. Don't take your pup to see fireworks the first day home. Moving to a new home is a pretty big change already, and the risk of catching parvo, distemper, or other diseases is still a danger. Puppy playdates, puppy kindergarten, and short trips to the vet or pet store are some good activities. For example, one of my training schools had doggie personals for dogs of all ages. You could search for playdates or even other single dogs to hang out with when owners are at work.
vaccinations and having gotten used to a new home, move on to bigger activities
such as parks and outdoor events. There are leash-free dog parks that
should be used with caution. Not all leash-free dog parks are totally
enclosed with a fence, meaning your dog could run out into the street anytime.
Also, you have less control over your dog and other owners have less control
over their dogs. Going off-leash in public is a privilege that can be
taken away by the actions of a few ill-mannered dogs.
addition to the usual dog places, there are other stores and restaurants that
allow pets. Generally, places like car dealerships, home improvement
warehouses, and outdoor equipment stores will allow dogs. This does not mean
they welcome pets, it simply means if you and your dog get an invitation don't
abuse it. Many stores that have an official no-pet policy don’t enforce
it, and sometimes even oppose it. This is especially true if your Swissy
is hooked up to a cart with a flag stone, patio stones, and enough flowers
for a wedding at Lowe’s. Some outdoor restaurants that have patio seating
will not object to a well-behaved dog. Maximus has had ice-cream and ice
cold water on many patios. He's even been given permission to eat at The
Old Alligator Grill which is a pretty pricey seafood place in Austin.
Here’s an example: I've been to our local Midas so often for oil changes and a brand new set of tires that they know my voice when I call. So when I bring Maximus, the manager is welcoming and works on my car himself. Maximus has even gotten to sit in the car when it goes up for the oil change. I don’t even get to sit in the car while its being worked on. Put it this way, if you have money to spend or have spent alot of money there lately, management will be reluctant to ask your friendly 4-legged-100lb child to leave.
if your city has a list of dog friendly places. The internet is a great
tool as well as word of mouth or from other local "dog people."
I know there is at least one published list of dog friendly places for
Austin,TX, cuz I spent weeks working on it before Mouse.
In St. Louis, MO, you can take your pooch to the AKC Museum of the Dog,
or in Hot Springs, AR, you can take your dog to Garvan Woodland Gardens.
Garvan Woodland Garden’s beauty is unsurpassed with plenty of ponds and
streams for the dogs to play and cool off, just don’t get lost in the woods
like we did!
groups also make great resources as well. Be it purebred rescue or all
breed rescue, they usually have many fund-raising events that are dog friendly.
I've worked with 2 different ones (Gold Ribbon Rescue of Central Texas and
Woodstock Animal Foundation), and Maximus is a regular at their events.
Gold Ribbon Rescue has an Annual Fun Day, a Swim Party in the Summer, and
sometimes pictures with Santa around the Holidays. Woodstock has adoption
hours at Petco which we regularly attend (although I have to inform people that
he already has a home), a Fun Day with CGC testing, Halloween Costume
contests, and even a fund-raiser dog show. Outdoor events are also great;
work picnics and barbeques are good opportunities because you can only talk
about the boss so much. Other events we've been to include musicals at
Zilker Park, outdoor concerts, and the Bats at Congress in Austin.
Anything outdoors is generally dog-okay unless specified.
Do you have a friend that owns their own business such as photography, home decor, pottery making, or even a medical practice? If your friend is a dog lover, you might be able to bring your 4 legged buddy into the store. My friends baby-sat Maximus for a day and told their employer all about it. She, being an animal lover and having her own eye clinic, invited Maximus to the clinic. In addition to another place to socialize, we also get free eye exams.
get in "No-dog zones" is a little bit more complicated, but do-able.
There's a couple of strategies I use, most of them exploiting the rare breed
factor. First step is to pick a store that isn't a no-dog zone by the
health department or the government. Places you’re looking for are sometimes in outdoor mall
types settings. Some of these
places are Wal-Mart, Bath and Body Works, Wells Fargo, and Bed, Bath, and
Beyond. When going by these stores, Maximus and I window shop taking care
to not let him in without permission. I'll
just poke my head in the door and ask the salesperson to bring items to me or to
hold them up to the window. Then they will ask, "Why don't you just
come inside the store?" This is when Maximus must play the part of
"sweet rare breed dog who will die if left in the car" (and yes, dogs
will die if left in the car on a hot day). He usually starts to roll on
his back or frog dog while I tell them about his showing, obedience, or whatever
else we’re training for. The store employee falls in love and we get an
invite into the store. Bonus: when the employee calls the manager and you
get a permanent invite to the store. At Bed, Bath, and Beyond, we even had
the manager and employee come out of the store to get us. Last week,
Maximus even finagled a $13 plate of meat loaf from the Cheesecake Factory.
Talk about having tricks up his sleeve.
basic game plan is to draw the attention of store personnel (by asking for help
at the door or with the help of the crowd that usually gathers around a Swissy),
have them fall in love with your Swissy, point out that you couldn't leave your
baby in the car so you’ll have to shop from the window, and bingo.
This works best when business is a little slow and the employees are
bored. They would be more than
happy to get away from restocking the shelves.
Plus, Swissies usually attracts more people to their store anyways so
managers aren’t opposed. We’ve done this so many times, every time Maximus sees glass doors he gets excited and does the “Its hot out here, can I
come in?” routine.
The other way Maximus gets in is to just barge right in. Then I apologize for letting my overly-friendly dog into the store, and they usually say “its okay, ya can stay.” I don’t recommend that route; it just happens when doors open and Maximus feels the air conditioning on his face. In fact he pulled this one the other day and surprised me at work. I walked into the hallway and saw his face staring right at me. Apparently, he had followed two ladies into the building.
So now you know a few tricks of the trade, get out there and socialize! Its fun for the humans and great for the dogs.
Copyright ©2002-2008 Jennie Chen, M. S. All images and articles are copyrighted. Unauthorized use is strictly Prohibited.[/nav/analytics-include.html]