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Dog Training Steps For First Dog: SOCIALIZATION!

April 15, 2009

Congratulations to Bo Obama! From what my mom the dog trainer said, he found his way into the First Family via Senator Edward Kennedy – got him from a family that was having trouble caring for him… that’s questionable, but I won’t comment – mom did that for me.

Okay, remember what happened with Barney Bush and nipping the (lack of common sense) reporter? Boy, Barney was called all sorts of names: dominant-aggressive, evil, annoyed – just to name a few, from many folks. The reported said Barney “wasn’t in the mood to be pet.” Well I’ve never met Barney, but from what I saw on the Barney Youtube video, it seems like he was behaving more like a dog, and the reporter was behaving more like a human – and unfortunately, the greeting skills of each species just didn’t mix well. Oh, and yes, maybe he just wasn’t in the mood to be touched by a stranger!
As for me, Poncho the dog, I don’t appreciate someone I don’t know just coming up to me, reaching over me, and touching my head! You humans don’t like people just coming up to you and touching you, do you? Or strangers approaching your human kids and touching them? Even if you know the person, sometimes it isn’t appropriate or acceptable – why the heck do you think us dogs enjoy it?
Remember, you all have your own weird way of greeting. That hugging and shaking hands stuff is kinda strange to us. We dogs never said we liked being hovered over and touched on top of the head. That is your silly interpretation. Sure, we get used to it, especially if you follow it up with something wonderful, like a treat, or that goofy baby-talk, or a belly rub – but it takes awhile for us to get to know you and make these associations. Please don’t assume just because we’re dogs that we like everything and everyone – you don’t, do you?
Okay, so what’s my point in all of this? Let’s hope that the Obama’s take the time to socialize Bo to all of the people that they’ll want him to like, all the places they’ll want him to enjoy going to. They need to help Bo create those pleasant associations with all of those things. Maybe a field-trip or two to different places – the girls schools with all of those kids. Mr. Obama’s office? Or to a press conference to get used to those pesky reporters…
Mom teaches her students about the importance of socializing their dogs…she says “Anything you want your dog to like or do as an adult, it’s best to get them used to it when they’re young.” She says not to force them to like something, but to “pair” the person or place or situation with something that the dog loves, then they’ll begin to love that person, place, or situation, because they associate one thing with something good. The following is a partial list of what mom recommends for good socialization:
  • People: different ages, races, sizes, shapes.
  • Places: cars, outside to potty in the rain, vet’s office (just a drop-in to say hi), outdoor cafe, walk the perimeter of a shopping mall – cars, people, sounds and smells.
  • Sounds: loud noises, cars, trucks, buses, sirens, thunder and lightening, fireworks, wind. 
Hopefully the First Family will take the right steps in taking Bo to a dog training class, or working with a private dog trainer, to help them properly socialize him – especially to being handled by reporters. 
Us dogs are a pretty good judge of character. I wonder if Barney was actually dialed in on this reporter and his true personality? Hmm, something for this intuitive, and inquisitive canine to ponder. 

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