Dogs are by nature, social creatures. Even in the wild, they exist in packs: social units that allow for sharing resources, mutual protection and companionship. For domesticated dogs there are two types of socialization: getting along with other dogs, and getting along with people.
There would be a third type if you want to include dogs getting along with other species of animals. However, taking a dog that has grown up thinking that cats, hamsters chickies, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, (whatever you have) are food and teaching it to see them as a friend is beyond my scope or ability.
The most common socialization problem we see here at Piney Mountain Foster Care is dogs who were neglected. Sometimes this is a dog that was chained in the yard, given enough food and water to survive, but that’s about it. No love, no personal care. Blondie was one such dog. When taken in by the Dr. Carol Hood Memorial Animal Shelter, she was so withdrawn and depressed she acted as though she were autistic. More often the problem is a family that decided having a puppy would be fun, but they had no idea how to train it. So the bouncy, happy-go-lucky ball of fur turns into a bouncy, happy-go-lucky dog weighing 30 to 60 pounds and hasn’t got a clue how to behave any way other than what has always done: just being its happy-go-lucky self. This proves inconvenient for the family, so they take it to the shelter to be rid or it — or abandon it somewhere to become someone else’s problem.
When used properly, crate training provides you and your dog with multiple benefits. For you it provides a simple, effective means of restricting your dog when you cannot provide close supervision. If your dog is an explorer, he may get into things that will harm him. If she’s a chewer, your home may suffer from allowing her to roam unsupervised. Crating also helps with housebreaking because a dog has a natural aversion to soiling its own sleeping space.
For your dog crate training offers a safe haven, a room or space of his own. It is a familiar place. Whether you go on the road or just move around a large home, having a place of his own brings your dog a feeling of safety. If your dog is ill or just been spayed or neutered, a familiar crate is quite comforting. A crate is effective in combating separation anxiety or fear of a thunderstorm because of the snug, safe feeling an enclosed crate can provide.
Cochise and Blondie were adopted years ago and are full time members of our family who live in our home. They are very good dogs. So good that we give them toys and chewies to occupy them when they are inside (and not sleeping). Blondie has a whole basket of them on the fireplace hearth. Cochise is welcome to make selections from it as well when he wants to but generally, he’s not too interested in anything he can’t eat. Blondie likes to chew, so we refer to it as Blondie’s toy basket.
When padawan learner dogs get enough Good Dog points, they begin coming into our house for visits. Then for over-nights. Then for whole weekends. If they do well, they are invited to move in and stay until their turn comes on the Rolling Rescue bus.
Lupa is our most recent house guest. She did very well and progressed quickly. Her only issue is that she likes to take all of the chewie toys out of the basket, one by one, and carry them to her blanket to chew them. All of them: leaving nothing for Blondie. Blondie is kind and patient (and we sneak one or two back for her when Lupa returns to the basket).
Marie decided to buy Lupa a chewie toy all her own. Maybe she would not be so fixated on Blondie’s toys if she had one of her own to keep in her crate or bring out and chew on her blanket.
It was November 1st. Yesterday’s rain had turned to snow: we had a couple of inches on the ground when I got up just before 5:00.
Normally Cochise gets up when I do and comes out to keep me company in the living room where I will study for an hour or so. Not today. It’s cold this morning and he decided to stay in his warm bed. I couldn’t blame him.
I lit a fire in the fireplace to chase away the chill and settled in to read. In a while Cochise decided to come lay in front of the fire.
I heard a sound. To me it sounded like snow falling off the roof to the ground with a “fwoomp”. Cochise jumped up and ran through the house barking: “Monster, monster! There’s a great beast outside: I must go scare away the monster. Let me out!”
It is chilly and rainy today: a great day to stay in, snuggle up, and light a little fire in the fireplace … just to take the chill off.
We are still in infirmary mode: NiceLady is doing a little better but still feeling pretty poorly, so Blondie and I are taking care of her. HairyFace helps us with those little tasks that require thumbs.
All of us dogs did go out this morning despite the rain. I surprised Hairy a little by staying out quite a while, sniffing the trees and bushes and generally patrolling the yard. Having a real yard to patrol instead of just a 25 foot arc around the front porch is much more motivating even in wet weather. And it was just a drizzle, had it been pouring, I’d have stayed in.