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Puppy Socialization


Carol's Puppy Kindergarten
   class at ARL Boston.

Other ARL Boston Articles

Peter's Park in the South End is a great place to take your puppy or dog to socialize with other dogs.  Here are some tips from Dog Trainer and Behavior Assistant from the Animal Rescue League of Boston, Carol C. Ahearn:

"[Your puppy] is coming from a litter with puppies looking all alike and now she sees all these strange creatures around her tall and small. She needs small doses of socialization. 5-10 minutes with puppies that she enjoys playing with. If your puppy gets overwhelmed by the dogs in the park, take her for a short walk. Just like people, some dogs like to party more than others." 

Q: Sometimes, my puppy growls at others. Does she want to play or is this a warning growl that she does not want them to come closer?

A: "There are many levels of growling and many reasons why the puppy might growl. Some dogs growl when they play, some growl to keep everyone away. Therefore, it is important to socialize your puppy with other dogs in a supervised play group like our Puppy Kindergarten class. The play is controlled by a dog trainer that fully understands dog to dog interaction and can stop or encourage the play. For [a more shy puppy], the dose of puppy play she gets from puppy class should be a good start. On the other hand, we want to build positive associations with many environments for our puppy. The socialization does not stop in the dog park: seeing other dogs, people, cats, horses, vacuums, trucks, new places and so on. Hearing different noises. You always have to watch your puppy's body language. She should always be within her comfort threshold when she encounters new, interesting things."

Ahearn stresses that the best way to socialize your puppy or adopted dog is to experience a variety of people, places, items, and activities, but in short doses at the dog's mental pace.  Be patient with your dog. For example, if your puppy is nervous to walk on a metal grate on the sidewalk, give your dog some time to explore and relax next to the grate. Let your puppy walk on it slowly. Make sure you have plenty of tasty treats and praise for her when she takes a step towards it than another. 

You can contact Carol Ahearn from Blue Max Dog in Norwood, Massachusetts at 617.827.6514 or .

Have questions about having a dog in the South End? Email me here.