• Michael D'Abruzzo

    April 6, 2010 at 2:31 am

    I strongly disagree with the article about puppy socialization classes,

    but do agree (mostly) with the dog park article.

    I have seen complete turn arounds with pups in these socialization classes and if done the right way not only help the pup become less fearful and better able to handle themselves around different dogs as they mature, but the classes also help the puppies become more comfortable with non-aggressive strangers if “pass the puppy” is played.

    In all the years I have run puppy classes i have never seen a dog do worse off by attending, but deal with COUNTLESS dogs that do have serious fear based problems that have not attended these types of classes. The dog’s individual genetics of course plays a part. I wonder if the author is speaking from his own experience running classes or if he just never ran them. The bad manners that the author talks about in the dog park article are usually corrected by learning to interact in the puppy classes. A human can’t teach a dog how to act with another dog through human/dog interaction. A person can teach a dog to obey commands in presence of another dog such as “easy” and “leave it” but learning smart interaction with other dogs only comes from experience – which is safest and sticks best when done as a puppy with other puppies with baby teeth (BEFORE 16 weeks). The classes certainly should not be a free for all and rules should still be followed. Especially by pairing the pups up correctly so you dont cause a problem by having certain pups have bad experiences. Most dog owners do not own any other dogs and do not have the ability to teach their dogs how to feel comfortable and interact with dogs that look differently than that pups short stay with its littermates. Not to mention the head start with obedience exercises and such… the naturally social pups love and benifit from these classes. I would be surprised if less than 99% of trainers would agree that the pros outweigh the cons.

    I agree mostly with the dog park article. Dog parks are very unnatural to adult dogs and pups brought into them are at serious risk of a bad experience. If you have a bunch of juvenile acting dogs they are usually fine, but once you get some mature dogs in there with serious concerns of who is in charge it can become more a source of stress to a dog than fun. It is almost impossible for dogs to interact normally if they dont know who is in charge – so problems break out all the time when someone decides to start playing fetch with their dog in there and more than one dog thinks the ball should be theirs or when dogs have different ideas of who is calling the shots in the pen. I wouldnt bring my personal dogs in one if i was payed to do so. I much prefer “play dates” with dogs that i know my dog knows and pairs well with. Some owners bring dogs into dog parks that have no business being in there. The only thing I disagree with in the article is that the author claims that the problem is usually the new dog in the park’s fault. I would say it is no dog’s fault – it is the whole situation that is bad.

    If i had a German Shepherd pup (especially) I would say a definite YES to puppy socialization classes and forget about dog parks. Make play dates with the dogs your pup gets along with in the puppy class. That’s my honest advice based on experience.