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Socialization Help
  • Hello everyone,

    I have a three year old Shiba named Koebi who I brought back to the states with me from Japan (we lived there for 4 years). In Japan, a lot of people weren't fond of letting their dogs meet other dogs, so while I tried to socialize her when she was a puppy, she didn't have a lot of chances to meet other dogs (though, she was super playful with one much older Shiba).

    Now, back in the states, I noticed her reactions to dogs has been getting much worse. She will stop walking and focus intently on the dog (even if they're well far away!), and if they're walking towards her, she'll lay down on the ground until they're nearby, then she'll leap up and start barking. We've tried letting her meet other dogs, but she snarls and barks at them until they leave. If we don't let her go see other dogs, though, she'll whine and cry while desperately trying to walk towards them.

    I am not sure what to do to help her overcome her bad habits. I have enrolled her in some dog classes which were supposed to start last weekend but were delayed, unfortunately. I'm hoping they'll teach me some things I can do to help Koebi learn the correct way to meet other dogs. I've tried treating her when she meets one (without barking), walking the other way when she's barking (bad behavior = you don't get what you want = teach her to be respectful), but nothing has worked. I'm at a complete loss here.

    The house I'm living at has two other dogs - a chihuahua and a chihuahua-something-mix. Koebi seems to do well with these dogs (I think?). She does get into little quarrels with the chihuahua-something-mix dog, but I feel like they're quarrels that have to do with teaching one another appropriate dog rules. They constantly bark at people and strangers, so I wonder if their behavior has rubbed off on Koebi.

    If you have any suggestions for me or training recommendations, I would really appreciate it! How can I teach Koebi to be more friendly around dogs? How can I get her to respond for me when she's "locked on" to a dog?

    Thanks!
  • MooseMoose
    Posts: 41
    Hello!

    1) Training Koebi to respond to distractions (including dogs) can be worked on in your training. Whatever command you use to keep the dog's attention on you, use that command (let's say "heel") and reinforce it in a variety of terrains. First, make sure your dog understands to listen at home (in a calm, comfortable environment), and then try it in a park and other places to make sure she responds 100%.

    2) Your dog might be playing, because other dogs are new/exciting. To help her respond positively with other dogs, I would recommend only allowing her to meet dogs that you know and are well-trained, until Koebi becomes more confident. My trainer suggests having the stranger dog (let's call him "Doge") in the down position (laying on his stomach) and stay. Then slowly allow your dog to approach and sniff the dog. Hopefully, Doge will be well trained and will not break the down/stay position, so Koebi will not be nervous. Make sure both dogs have leashes on to pull them away should something happen.

    If you don't know anyone else with a dog, then it becomes a little trickier. However, definitely try to train your dog to respond to your commands to return or heel before something happens! You can also try talking to neighbors.

    Hope this helps!

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