For years, I’ve found myself in conflict with our claim that dogs need socialization.
I know you’ve been told your dog needs socialization. You’ve read this all over the internet and it’s in every “how to train a dog“ book.
But, what if we re-framed the “need” to say, dogs are social and they need connection?
Might you become an advocate for them in a different way?
Might you stop taking them to the dog park?
Might you visit your dog’s daycare and bear witness to the actual experience your dog is having with other dogs?
Is it one of connection?
Think about it in this way: Dog’s need food. Are you the kind of dog parent who sees food as the vehicle by which your dog receives nutrition and optimal health, or is food merely the means of survival?
In other words, might you consider what goes into your dogs food?
We can look at connection in the same way.
Is the goal of socialization to expose your dog to as many dogs as possible? (keeping in mind the nature of the experience to some degree)
Is your goal to allow your dog to develop a deep connection with another dog? One in which both dogs can be vulnerable, experiential, playful, experimental, and so deeply connected that they grow with one another throughout life: in being, in experience, in friendship, and in connection?
In one scenario, the way we perceive the dog’s need to interact with dogs continues to amplify risks of stress, anxiety, and fights / conflict.
In the second scenario, the dog is perceived to be as complex, emotional, fragile, as intelligent as we are. And, their need for interactions with other dogs can be protected to provide deeper meaning.
It is from our perception of their needs that we create their reality.
At Doglando, we view dogs as social beings. So it becomes quite simple for us to focus all our creations on the infinite possibilities for them to form deep connections with other dogs, big or small; regardless of age, breed or size.
This is referred to as Social Groupings Enrichment – it’s one of the 8 Spheres Of Enrichment.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.