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Socialization and exposure

Voodoo has an excellent temperament for Service Dog work. Nothing spooks him! To help maintain and reinforce that as he went through the socialization “window” we went many different places, he experienced many different sights, sounds, smells, and textures. And we worked on basic obedience and attention on me in all these places. This helps him understand that no matter what is happening around us, I still need him to do as I ask.

My goal on these outings was to have him feel safe and happy. If anything bothered him I never pushed him to explore it, though I did allow him to do so if he wanted and it was safe to do so. This is very important!  It is not about interacting with everything. It is about being able to respond to cues and feel safe in the presence of many different things.  My check list for exposure can be found here: Socialization check list

The following is provided as examples of the sorts of things a Service Dog in training can be exposed to as well as how they should ideally react.

My next pup will have even greater possibilities for socialization now that I’m living in an RV and traveling the country. Every time the door opens it’s a new world!

Intro to a moving surface (exercise egg):

Loud sounds, dog door, and wobbly surfaces:

First time at the lake (wading in the water, rolling down the grassy bank, on the floating dock, exposed to boat engine):

Exposure to well socialized ducks (showing his first reaction, as well as how he learned to ignore them):

Listening to live music (he didn’t want to be still and rest, but learning to do so is important)

Checking out the slow moving train

Near a loud waterfall

His first swim and retrieve from water:

Playing with foil and a balloon:

KY horse Park (practicing settle, smell/sight/sound of horses and hearing an echoing loud speaker)

Fun day at the Lab Club picnic (swimming, water retrieves, long distance recall, play with other dogs, etc.)

At an Italian Festival/carnival (crowds, heat, loud noises, moving rides, etc.):

At Indy Pop Con (LOTS of strange sights! People of all colors (including green, blue, purple, etc.), people with no faces, creatures and costumes of all sorts, even a T-rex! All taken in stride):

At a Celtic Festival (live bands, crowds, outdoors, farm animals, etc.):

Playing at the playground (on the slides and on the other equipment):

1st hike in the woods (showing him getting rewarded for checking in with me):

On a different dock, watching some kayaks:

Playing with Barn Hunt in a new location (Climbing on straw and the ramp, finding rats protected in PVC tubes):

Playing in moving water

At the gun range (walked there from a distance away to ensure he was not getting spooked)

Animatronic life sized dinosaur (no big deal) 🙂

16 weeks old, so “socialization window” is closed, but I continue to expose him to new sights, sounds, smells, and textures and continue training with a wide variety of distractions.

Gardens, petting zoo animals, zip lines, moving bridges, peacocks stalking us and more!

Swimming at the lake with my other dog

Tram tour at the arboretum

Power boat races (he was hot and mostly just bored)

Horse drawn covered wagon ride at Old West Fest (also handled the gun fight in the streets (from a distance) just fine. But I didn’t get it on video because there wasn’t anything to see 🙂

Zoo visit (saw/smelled LOTS of animals, took a sky tram ride, rode a small tour train, handled a crowded indoor presentation with leaping dolphins, and practiced stay for lots of photos).

This is my Malinois protecting us from the corn combine, but you can see voodoo’s reaction to it at :45 and 1:20

First snow (since being a baby in Canada)

Even though he is over a year he continues to be exposed to new things, but very little phases him so they would be rather boring videos. Because we have worked on manners and obedience in SO many places with SO many distractions, his ability to generalize is amazing! Whatever he learns at home, he can do anywhere.

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