Early socialization is an important condition for a happy life of a dog, which we talked about in the previous blog. Positive experiences during the first months of life in various new situations are crucial for achieving trust and confidence, while insufficiently socialized dogs can suffer from anxiety caused by everything that is unknown.
Dogs have become extremely reliable to humans through domestication, and that includes sensitivity to some of the basic communication signals. As they are often exposed to human speech, especially during play, they have developed the ability to recognize different words and sounds. On the other hand, they read body language very well and visual signals are enough to understand the command.
Before we teach him certain commands, we need to discipline the dog, and you can read about the difference between well-mannered and trained here.
Training is teaching a dog certain skills or behaviors that are important or purposeful to people using commands and signs. That way we can e.g. teach him how to sit down or come on call.
Socialization is an integral part of education that makes him feel safe in our world. The emphasis of this process is on the dog.
The first trials of obedience began in America in the 1930s. At the same time, popular magazines were promoting public awareness of the benefits of keeping a trained pet and the possibilities of training as a hobby. After the Second World War, the growing population in the cities required well-mannered pets.
In Serbia, it is possible to take the socialization test, which consists of obedience exercises, walking on a leash, without a leash, meeting a group of people, cyclists, other dogs, etc. The passed exam does not represent a certificate of the level of training, but it is a necessary precondition for participation in all competitions for working, search and rescue dogs.
From the first records in Ancient Rome about the breeding and training of puppies for livestock, people were searching for the most effective training method, and over time it becomes an academic topic that is scientifically discussed and all methods are observed through results and consequences. Thus, from the use of strangler collar and repressive techniques, through one of the later rules, “be kind to his virtues, and a little blind to his shortcomings.” and operational conditioning on the principle of reward and punishment, there are now more humane methods that emphasize the impact of positive motivation where the pet learns that it pays off to be well-mannered. In modern training, a dog is not physically punished.
More details on responsible ownership can be found here.
Training and socialization in practice
There are pets that we consider family members, but there are also working dogs that are specially trained to perform certain tasks. Together with e.g. police and military dogs, this group includes assistance dogs and therapy dogs.
Service dogs or assistance dogs are specially trained to help people with different types of disabilities, and they are trained to be calm and capable. Some examples are those who assist the blind or people with mobility difficulties. The rules for these dogs depend on the country. In Serbia, the right to move with the help of a guide dog implies free access and movement in public transport, facilities, and areas in public use and in the workplace, as well as in any other space.
Therapy dogs are trained and certified, which means they undergo tests to decide whether they can be included in the therapy or not. They can be a part of a patient’s recovery plan, provide support to the sick or injured, and are frequent visitors to nursing homes. There is currently only one dog in Serbia that is used for therapy.
Animals for emotional support are a relatively young category that was created along with the promotion of greater human rights and freedoms. People with various mental problems (post-traumatic syndrome, depression) can, with the help of their psychiatrist, register a specific animal that will be their comfort and emotional support. This type of pet is not trained to perform special tasks, but the owner feels safer in his presence. After various controversies regarding the registration of any animal as emotional support, today these are mostly dogs or cats. The law in Serbia still does not recognize this group.
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Author: Marina Stancevic