Charlie was your typical desi puppy dog: Recovering from some street trauma, shy, fearful of dogs and extremely unsure of new environments.
The period between 3 weeks to 12 weeks is one of the most critical periods for socialization. Negative experiences and associations made in this period can last a lifetime, often manifesting in ‘problem behaviours’ such as barking and lunging at around 8 months or later. It’s very important to provide a range of stimulus (environments, people, animals, sounds, surfaces etc) during this time and ensure the pup enjoys them.
With Charlie, we wanted to make sure that despite whatever trauma he had been through, he learns to enjoy various aspects of his life! The goal was to create as many positive associations with non-dog stimuli as we could given our collective resources, to give him the best chance of getting adopted. The plan was simple – walks!
A bunch of volunteers, including rescuers and trainers, took some time out to take to work with Charlie. Within one week, Charlie got 4 walks, and it’s made a world of a difference! Here are the rules we followed:
- LOOSE LEASH walking: No pulling, no jerking and taking all the time to sniff and explore at Charlie’s pace
- Gentle ENCOURAGEMENT for any exploring behaviours, including approaching people, sniffing, showing interest in walking on a new route.
REDIRECTING from situations that are stressful, e.g walking away from stray dogs, crowds of people. ‘Facing your fear’ is not a mantra that would have worked for Charlie.
- MONITOR and RECORD all interactions. Google shared drive was our best friend (See our spreadsheet!)
From Walk 1 “Very scared, but came along; squealed and ran the other way when a stray dog barked; kept bumping into glass displays 😀” ….
…to Walk 4 “Excited to get out of the gate. Very curious, checking out everything possible, though scared of vehicle sounds, weary of some standing cars too at times. a mix of tail between the legs and out and about. Loved going up to people & dogs to check them out!”