Socializing vs Traumatizing

Maybe now you will doubt my competence when I present you such a title. But let’s take a look at a classic puppy play session.


I have often observed the following sequence of events and my clients have also described it this way (of course, every dog school has small variations).

  1. the dogs come to the field excited (if it is not the first session)
  2. they are leashed to play
  3. sooner or later the excitement level in the game becomes too high and they are separated
  4. exercises are done (sit, down, leash,…) or equipment is tried out
  5. question discussion


Here game and exercises alternate in good schools. It must be said that this procedure already offers important content for the puppy, but often something very unpleasant happens.


If the trainer is not paying attention or is not sufficiently trained (there are actually dog schools that let an owner without training take over this group), the game tips very quickly and becomes stupid for min 1 puppy.

Again and again, you hear: “they do it among themselves” or similar. This leads very quickly to the fact that the affected puppy learns “other dogs mean fear or pain”. For the final social behavior rather counterproductive.

Then there are always puppies who find the procedure scary from the beginning and prefer to hide behind their mistress. This works until another puppy comes too close and the little Fürchti has only the variant attack (usually a short barking to the conspecific). He learns “if I make noise, he goes away and I am less afraid”.

Also very useful for social behavior.

If you wonder why small dogs often yelp… here you have a possible cause.


Another problem is the excitement level from the beginning. The longer the course goes on, the more excited the dogs become. Some start to go completely crazy already in the car at a certain point of the course.

One could now say: “well they are just happy”, which is of course correct. BUT just because the dog is happy, it still makes the driver crazy 😉

Moreover, this excitement can be transferred to the encounter with other dogs in everyday life. This is not a problem with a puppy, but when the bulldog is then in puberty and not every owner wants the contact anymore, 40kg are quite uncomfortable when they tear at the shoulder.

Here we have the main reason for leash aggression in young dogs (frustration).


And then there is another little thing.

The exercises that worked well in the dog park, strangely enough, no longer work at home or in everyday life.


Because they were never practiced there.

The dog associates the exercises only with the place “dog park”. Here it would need super motivated owners, who rebuild the exercises just as small-step as on the field, also in other situations.


The exclusive training on the dog place has then, as if that were not enough, still another crucial disadvantage.

The puppies do not learn any environmental stimuli. Here, some schools then counteract by bringing in everyday objects and helpers. But even here we have the link with the place and we can not bring everything to the place (keyword construction site or public transport).


But then what would be an alternative to the long-established concept?


First of all, let’s take a look at the sequence of events.


At the beginning of the lesson, instead of an exciting game, a relaxation exercise can be incorporated, during which homework and questions can be discussed.

Body awareness exercises with equipment or search games are also a great way to start.


Play sequences can give two-legged participants a great introduction to body language. This way you learn when your puppy needs help, which signals he sends out and how, and which behavior your dog finds good with others and which not.

A breakup always proceeds in such a way that the puppy is accompanied by the breakup into something even more awesome. This can be, play with the owner or a mega snack (the non plus ultra), depending on what your dog prefers.


Relaxation exercises can always follow in between and also at the end.


But the most important thing: the lessons do not take place exclusively in the square.

This is so important because we, the owners, also need support in getting used to new things. In fact, this is so often underestimated and yet it is one of the most important things in dealing with a puppy.

New things should be learned neutrally or positively (depending on how your dog should react to them later). This is not so easy and that’s why the professional should be there, especially in the beginning.


Are you now unsure whether the puppy group in your area meets your requirements? Then just ask 😉 Normally, we trainers are always happy to chat about our courses and content, because this is our heart’s desire.


Have fun with your puppy

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