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Walking an Adolescent Dog: A Journey of Socialization and Learning

Walking an Adolescent Dog: A Journey of Socialization and Learning

Today, I want to talk about adolescent dogs. Meet Bear, an incredible young dog who has been part of my journey in understanding and guiding dogs through their teenage phase.

Bear's initial interactions with me began during our play sessions, and he even came over for some drop-off playtime. At first, he was quite unsure about everything around him—typical for a young and inexperienced dog. My primary focus was on making him feel comfortable. Recently, Bear was neutered, which can significantly help adolescent dogs regulate their emotions.

Now, we have a neutered teenager who, while still full of feelings and energy, has a better handle on his emotions. There's still much to do with Bear, but he's already showing tremendous improvement.

Our main activity is play, but it goes beyond that. Being in new environments like this one provides natural socialization. Socialization isn't just about how a dog interacts with other dogs or people. It's about how they feel in different settings, whether they can make good choices, and if they can engage with their handler. All these factors indicate a well-socialized dog.

When Bear and I explore new places, he behaves like someone walking through a museum or a mall, curiously observing everything. My focus is on his feelings—his body language, tail, posture, and how he engages with me. These observations help me understand his comfort level and guide him better.

Socialization is crucial, especially for young, shy, timid, or inexperienced dogs. It's about ensuring they feel okay with each step they take. For adolescent dogs like Bear, who experience a lot of emotions, it's vital to create moments where they don't have to think or feel intensely. Before this walk, we ran together, which is like recess for children—just a chance to let loose and have fun.

Running helps Bear relax and be a dog. In the future, I'll look for groups of dogs he can play and socialize with, keeping sessions short and sweet. For any adolescent or inexperienced dog, these experiences are invaluable. They help them find calmness and relaxation in new situations.

When reintroducing the world to Bear, I focus on simple activities where we practice just being present. He's curious and takes in all the information around him, which is fine. My main concern is how he feels during these moments. Whether he walks ahead or lags behind, these behaviours indicate his feelings—curiosity, eagerness, or a need to rest.

It's important not to perceive these behaviours negatively. Today, Bear engaged with me on his own, making eye contact and seeking touch. This engagement is crucial, as it shows he's comfortable and connected. Every little thing, from the sound of my shoes to a lady cutting grass, should represent peace and neutrality.

When socializing a shy or inexperienced dog, especially an adolescent, our goal is to ensure they feel okay. Once they do, we can decide if we want to be excited, run, or explore more. But the baseline is always to feel okay being outside in the real world.


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