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Papillon Topic of the Month

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This Month's New Topic is:
Socializing Your Papillon

Many Papillon owners have heard of the word socialization in regard to dogs; however do not understand what they need to do.  What is to be expected of an owner?  What are the training steps that must taken to have your dog properly socialized?  What does this really mean and is it really so important?

Our new topic will be Socializing Your Papillon.  We will discuss just what this term means to you and how this relates to your little pal.  

We will also uncover what exactly the steps are to socialization and how to determine when or if your Papillon is successful in this endeavor.  Let's get rid of the mystery of this term and understand what it really means to you and your dog.

Socialization is how your dog reacts to their environment.  This covers many elements:

•    People, of all age groups
•    Places
•    Other dogs and animals
•    Sounds and stimuli
At What Age Do I Begin Socializing My Papillon?

Socializing naturally begins when a puppy is about 3 weeks old.  At this age, a dog is just becoming aware of their surroundings.  A pup will learn the comfort of their mother's warm body.  A puppy will learn how to fight with their brothers and sisters to get to Mom's milk first and they will learn the pleasure of play.

When a puppy is about 8 weeks old it will be time for the owner to step in.  From 8 weeks to 12 weeks, a puppy will be weaned from the mother and become so much more independent.  However, many dog owners bring adult dogs into their family. A dog of any age should and can be socialized.  In many instances, an adult dog will not be properly socialized and their loving owner must train them. This can happen when a dog had a previously neglectful or careless owner.

People

Being trained to interact with all sorts of people is a huge element of socialization for a dog.  It is quite easy to teach a dog to behave well around people that they are familiar with; it is another thing to have a dog behave well around strangers.  For example, when you bring your dog to the vet, you will want your Papillon to not only behave appropriately and nicely to the veterinarian, but also to the receptionist and the other pet owners.

It is best if you try to introduce your Papillon to a new person at least once per week.  This can be done while taking your dog for a walk, running an errand to the store, etc.  You do not need to spend an hour speaking with someone; simply stopping and allowing your dog to sense the presence of someone is all that is needed.

If your Papillon attempts to jump up onto someone or they bark, bring them 2 or 3 feet away from that person, give a stern "No" and completely ignore them for a minute or two.  While ignoring your dog may seem a bit unkind, one must remember that in the long run, both dog and owner will be much happier. Dogs most love attention. When the are ignored, they quickly get the message that they did something that was not acceptable. This teaches a dog faster than any method…and yelling or “punishing” your dog does nothing.

When an owner does not take the time to socialize their dog, it causes that dog to be in situations that are stressful to them.  Stress in small breed dogs may cause physical symptoms, including hair loss and decreased appetite.

Particular People

Some dogs behave like perfect angels except when faced with one certain type of person.  Do however, keep in mind that this advice is not for Papillon and children, since this breed has a low tolerance for young children.

For this example, we will say that an older person wearing a long coat triggers your dog to become out of control. This may happen because of a past abuse; this may also happen for no apparent logical reason.  The key to resolving this problem is desensitizing your dog.  This can be done by slowly and calmly introducing your Papillon to the very element that is causing a negative reaction.  When you do so, by showing a result of a positive and pleasant feeling, your dog will learn appropriate behavior.

For this example, you would invite 1 or 2 elderly friends or family members to your home and ask them to wear long coats.  As soon as they enter your home, they would give your dog a treat. Then, you would sit down and allow your dog to hear happy banter and see that there is no threat.  If it appears as if your dog is becoming nervous, anxious or otherwise, that visitor would give your dog another treat.  

Always offer your Papillon happy and proud words when they are behaving properly.  Each time they are not behaving, leading them away so that they feel that they are missing the “action”and ignoring for a minute or 2,  will eventually teach your dog that life is much happier and interesting when they behave.

"Ahhh-rumpfff, rufff, ...arf, umphf!" Translation: "Hi! Before you finish reading this, if you like what you've read so far and think it's interesting...And if you like this website, please share it before you read on!"
  


Socializing With Other Dogs

You must show careful consideration when thinking about socializing your Papillon with other dogs. While there are many examples of large dogs being best friends with small dogs, you will want to take care that this may be entering a dangerous situation.  It is best if your Papillon plays with dogs in the same weight class.  It is suggested to set up play dates.  Allow the dogs to become used to each other and separate them if any aggression is shown.

Even though you are your Papillon's best friend and a dog does not need another canine in order to be happy, you will want your dog to behave appropriately around other dogs, cats or pets.  When you have visitors stop by with a pet, you are in a dog park or you are thinking about adding another dog to your family, you will be pleased that your Papillon is already familiar with other canines and animals.

Do be careful of allowing your female Papillon near any males dogs when she is in heat.  In addition, when you are walking your dog, stop and allow your dog to say hello to another dog.  If you see a dog approaching that you feel would turn into a confrontation, cross the street.. There is no need to enter into a situation that is foretold to be tense or dangerous.

Locations

Just as a person may trigger a negative reaction in a dog, a certain place may do so as well.  Your Papillon may be calm and relaxed at home and then be out of control when you bring them to the ballpark.  Desensitizing will work in this situation as well.  Bring your dog to that park when it is quiet. Then work your way up to going at times when there are more and more people and stimulus.  Reward good behavior and follow the guidelines for your actions regarding negative behavior.

A vital key is to remember that your Papillon is going to partially base their behavior on your actions and your behavior.  A dog will pick up on the smallest of signals that you may not even realize you are showing.  For example, if you are at a ball field and you tense up each time the batter is up, your Papillon may sense this tension and it may manifest as negative behavior such as barking uncontrollably or jumping around wildly.  The tone of your voice, your body language and how you react to environments and situations are silently teaching your dog how to feel.  

To Sum It Up

Dogs instinctively wish to please their owner and they will look to you to show them how to behave.  Once given guidelines, with enough repetition, they will obey them.  When an owner does not take the time to properly socialize their dog, they are hurting their dog in several ways.  When a dog is not taught how to react, interact and behave they will be constantly thrown into situations in which they are unprepared.  The dog will become confused and act out.  Doing so, will cause stress and stress can and does lead to physical problems.  Stress can result in fur loss, urination accidents, nipping and biting among other issues.

Teaching your Papillon about the world, the people, places and animals that exist in the world and how to behave will lead to a well adjusted and happy dog.  Without socialization, a dog can be a very frightened creature. Acting out because of fear, that dog may then be wrongly interpreted as being "bad". 

It will be your job to show your dog how to cope with all of the stimulus this world brings to us.  You will know that your dog is successfully socialized when can confidently depend on them to behave, no matter what the situation.