Yeah, I like taking Honey with me places because I enjoy her company. But did you know that pet friendly businesses have the potential to save dogs’ lives?
Let me explain.
How Important Is Early Socialization?
If you’ve never raised a puppy, you may not understand what a huge difference early exposure to strange people, animals, and situations can mean for a dog’s future.
But if you’ve never raised a puppy, it’s also likely you’ve dealt with the results of adopting an adult dog who was not properly socialized as a young puppy. And it can be challenging.
As Dr. Ian Dunbar points out, addressing aggression or fear in a 2-3 month old puppy can take days, addressing the same problems in a 5 month old puppy can take months, and dealing with fear in an aggressive 8 month old can take a year or two.
Unfortunately, an unsocialized dog whose fear of people causes him to bite is likely to lose his life.
So if you love animals, you probably campaign hard to prevent unwanted litters through spay and neutering. But hopefully, you also encourage people with puppies to socialize them so they grow up to be confident, stable, and happy dogs.
So what does this have to do with pet friendly businesses?
If You’re Not A Dog Geek…
I’m a dog geek. And if you’re reading this, I bet you’re a dog geek too.
So you already know about the importance of socialization and training young dogs. You’ve probably raised happy puppies into well-behaved dogs or rehabilitated a dog who didn’t have the best start in life.
But what about people who don’t read dog blogs or training books and still end up caring for a puppy? How will they learn the importance of socialization for having a good dog?
And if they don’t learn, how likely are they to surrender their dog to a shelter because they can’t manage her behavior?
Here’s where pet friendly business help to save dogs’ lives.
No one likes to leave a puppy at home if they don’t have to. And I suspect that if the United States had as many pet friendly businesses as much of Western Europe does, we’ve have many more well socialized dogs.
If you’ve traveled to a dog friendly countries, have you ever seen a reactive dog on a train? Or a snarling pup in a restaurant? Or a fearful dog in a shop?
I think that’s because even people who aren’t dog geeks end up with well socialized dogs just by the accident of being able to take them so many places where they meet so many different people.
Honey The Well Socialized Dog
The other day, we were relaxing in a waterfront park after taking a long walk. Honey was lying down in front of our park bench when we saw three people working with a small dog wearing a bright vest.
As they came closer, I could read the vest: “Service Dog In Training.”
And then they practiced walking the dog back and forth in front of Honey encouraging him not to react to her presence.
I thrilled that Honey’s early socialization exposing her to many different people and dogs made her the kind of dog to help in a service dog’s training.
Honey’s breeder started her socialization before she was even born. As a tiny puppy, she lived in the breeder’s home where she was exposed to house noises, other dogs, and many different kinds of people.
I knew from my reading that socialization was important. But Honey was the first dog for whom I ever saw it in action.
Socialization didn’t change Honey’s personality. She’s definitely on the more cautious side of the confidence spectrum, even now.
But there is no person or dog who frightens her on sight thanks to hours and hours of socialization.
How To Socialize A Puppy
We took our vet’s advice to be careful where we took Honey while we were waiting for her first vaccinations to take effect—about two weeks.
We were careful not to allow her to meet other dogs we didn’t know. We didn’t take her walking in places where we were likely to see unvaccinated dogs.
But once our vet gave us the okay, we took Honey to as many pet friendly businesses as we could.
We took her dining. We took her to the pet food store. We even took her to a pet expo for a brief visit that was far shorter than the hour-long drive to get there.
We introduced Honey to people in wheelchairs and leg braces, men with hats and beards, and squealing children. We worked hard to make every introduction a happy one so Honey would associate all kinds of people with good things.
To this day, if Honey sees a UPS driver or mail carrier, she whines with excitement because of the delicious liver treats we used to encourage her to feel positively about people coming to our door.
I saw how excellent Honey’s early experiences were the first time I attended the pet blogger’s conference, BlogPaws.
We were returning to our hotel room when two women, deep in conversation, entered the elevator. After they stepped off, I looked down to see a bit of Honey’s floofie tail on the floor beside her. Apparently one of the women had stepped on Honey’s tail and taken a bit of it off when Honey tried to move away.
Honey’s early experiences, socialization, and training gave her such excellent bite inhibition that I didn’t know what had happened until after it was over.
And it’s that kind of early work that can save a young dog’s life.
At least one of my first dogs would probably have bitten the woman who stepped on her tail. And as a result, could have lost her life.
So maybe when you see dog friendly businesses, you’ll take a moment to thank them. Because early, happy exposures to a variety of people leads to happy, confident dogs.
And they might even save a life.
To learn more, read We Don’t We Adequately Socialize Young Puppies With People by Ian Dunbar.
Best City For Pet Travelers
Charleston is in round 3 of the Best City for Pet Travelers brackets at Go Pet Friendly. Woo hoo!
And now we’re ready to crush Tampa, Florida. Yep, the city where after the indigenous people who lived there got wiped out, no one wanted to live there for over a century.
Here’s one: do you really want to see dog wrestling?
Because Tampa is a big location for WWE. And to see photographic evidence, just google “WWE dogs.”
Can’t you see puppy body slams and pile drivers? And don’t even get me started on dressing dogs up in such humiliating costumes.
Update: Charleston won Best City For Pet Travelers 2016! Hooray!