Socialization
Training happens:

Combine training (teaching specific exercises that your dog performs
dog! Training sessions should be conducted when you are in quiet,
low-distraction settings. Teaching 'foundation exercises' should be
your prime concern. Use positive reinforcement-based training. Work
on keeping your dog's attention around distractions. Teach him from
day one to focus on you in the presence of distraction, other people
and animals. "Leave it", "come", “loose leash walking”, as well as "sit
n' stay" and attentiveness are the things you should focus on most in
the beginning - the foundation exercises. Practice these things at
home with no distraction, then begin to add mild distraction and
change location so your dog learns to behave in a variety of
situations.  Combine training these exercises with your socialization
outings.

Remember: Training is a life-long endeavor! It isn't something your do
TO your dog, it is something you and your dog do together.

The same goes for socialization.







































The following tips and ideas can be applied to puppies and adult dogs –
although pups under 16 weeks are best served by socialization, older
pups and adults need continuous, positive socialization and experiences,
too.  This breed is very active, physically and mentally, as well as
extremely social – for that reason, getting your Pit Bull out in public is
important.

Socialization basics - Before you start:

Socialization for Pit Bulls is of prime importance!  (Remember, the
optimal time for socialization is between approximately 7 and 12
weeks of age.  But ALL dogs regardless of age need socialization!)

Getting your dog around a TON of people, all different shapes and
sizes, as well as in a variety of situations, is important – for puppies,
this is a must.

Pit Bulls as  a breed LOVE people, and are happy to be around them
at any age, especially when they have been taught from early on that
people equal "good stuff" like treats, belly rubs and toys.  Be
preemptive in your socialization efforts – always look to create good
interactions, and never push your dog to do anything he seems
uncomfortable with.  Start slow and work your way up.

Know your dog's body language!  Know what stress signals to look
for.  A great book to help you learn about stress (aka calming)
signals, is this book:  
On Talking Terms With Dogs by Turid Rugaas

Socialization with other dogs is essential, but can be more tricky
given the breed’s tendency towards
‘dog-sensitivity’. If your dog has
not been around other dogs from an early age, or hasn't learned to
behave in their presence, you could find yourself with an adult that
goes nuts at the mere sight of another dog from 4 blocks away.

Socializing with other dogs should be done in a strategic, purposeful
way -- it's not about taking your dog to the dog park and just letting
him run loose!

It is important to avoid physical corrections when
your dog misbehaves around other dogs or people. Instead of
associating the corrections with the bad behavior, the dog could
associate them with the other dog or person -- this can cause fear,
frustration, and agitation, all of which could develop into aggression.
Instead, set your dog up to succeed by being careful how you
socialize, and who you socialize with. If you do find yourself in a
sticky situation, distract your dog, then retreat if necessary until you
have the dog under control. Then try again under less distracting or
stressful circumstances.

Socialization ops:  Take your dog to places where he can have
positive, controlled encounters with new people and other dogs. Visit
your vet's office, even if you don't have an appointment. Take him
"shopping" at the pet store. Go to the local strip mall or busy grocery
store parking lot.

Take your dog to parks where you know other dogs are generally
kept on leash. Are there any dog-friendly stores in your area? Pay
them a visit. Matches (practice dog shows) are also a great way to
socialize. Busy city sidewalks can be a great tool in socialization,
training classes, bring your dog any place that is safe and generally
controlled.






































Socialization specifics:  

It's important during socialization that your dog has only positive
encounters. You don't want him to think that meetings with new
people or dogs will result in scary or hurtful outcomes. Keep a bunch
of your dog's favorite treats on hand whenever you head out
socializing. Reward for good, calm behavior. Attention on you should
ALWAYS be rewarded. Sitting politely for petting and attention from
other people also
deserves a reward. A loose leash (don't tug at your dog!) and
keeping yourself calm and relaxed (slow and deep breaths) are
essential. Don't FORCE your dog to meet anyone or investigate
anything. Let him act of his own accord, when he feels ready.
Encourage him, and praise, but never force; Calmly
encourage/reassure your dog when he is feeling unsure.

Find out why Clicker Training is a great way to teach your dog new
behaviors and help him learn to love new people, animals, and
situations:

http://www.clickertraining.com/node/2184

Dog-to-dog socialization:   

Introducing your Pit Bull to another dog (known for calm behavior and
friendly interactions with other dogs) should be done on neutral
territory. An open area, like a park field is a good place. Take the
dogs for a walk together (each one on leash and held by a different
person - walking parallel). Let them gradually adjust to each other's
presence during the walk while keeping them at a safe distance. It's
up to you to "feel" your dog out -- how reactive is he to the presence
of other dogs? Is he squirmy, wiggly, with a lower-set fast wagging
tail; is he play bowing? He may be interested in a playful greeting.
How about turning to the side, licking the air, or yawning? These
could be signs of nervousness or stress, but a willingness to avoid
conflict -- your dog should be rewarded for such gestures, and not
pushed to greet the other dog. Lunging behavior, high-set wagging
tail, stiff body language, and staring can seem like non-aggressive
behavior, but these can be signs of a dog's preparedness to engage
in fighting behavior. If your dog is behaving in such a way, avoid
running him right up to another dog. Instead, keep him at a distance,
practice some obedience exercises with him, and gradually acclimate
him to the presence of the other dog. If your dog seems indifferent,
don't force him to say hello. Pit Bulls prefer the company of their
humans, anyway. The main goal of socialization is to help your Pit Bull
learn to behave around other dogs, not to teach him to "like" them.

And remember, no matter how well behaved a Pit Bull seems,
ALWAYS keep him on leash -- off lead play sessions (such as in a dog
park) are a big NO-NO!

Calm, polite behavior around other dogs deserves a reward. It is OK
for your dog to ignore other dogs!  It is more important that he is
controlled and well-behaved, then have to interact in a friendly or
playful way with other dogs. If your dog does want to interact, that’s
great.  But be there to keep things safe and sane, and intervene if
necessary.    

If your dog gets pushy or too rowdy, distract him and get him back
under control (lure the dog away from the other dog, and facing you,
then ask for a sit -- you should practice this beforehand), and
when he behaves, reward him by allowing him to again approach the
other dog. It is important to only have your dog around other dogs
that are non-aggressive and generally well behaved. A bad
encounter with another dog could cause your dog to develop
defensive
aggression.

The key to socializing your Pit Bull with other dogs is to prevent
him from engaging in bad behavior in the first place. Even rough,
unruly play with other dogs can later develop into aggression and
fighting behavior. This is why it is important to prevent bad behavior
and reward good, calm, collected behavior.

The optimum time for socialization ends before 16 weeks. However,
socialization should continue throughout the dog's life. Socializing an
adult   Pit Bull with other dogs can be more risky, especially if
you do not know the dog's background, and training & socialization
history. Caution is always necessary, and keeping your dog on leash
is a must.

Very wild, unmanageable dogs may require desensitization and
counter-conditioning. Instead of trying to socialize such dogs on your
own, contact a behaviorist who can teach you how to teach your dog
to behave around other animals.

Remember, there are some dogs that are NEVER going to be "good"
with others. The best you can do with such dogs is teach them to
control their impulses and help them learn "replacement" behaviors
like sitting calmly, and ignoring the presence of other dogs.

Some important information on Nature vs Nurture, and proper
socialization:

http://www.clickertraining.com/node/1690

For a great tutorial on dog-to-dog introductions, see:

http://ourpack.org/files/ourpack_dogdogintros.pdf
Early Socialization and Puppies

The socialization period in dogs ends at around 12
weeks of age.  Anything that occurs after that would be
considered ‘remedial socialization’.  It is beneficial, but
you are basically trying to make up for lost time that can
never fully be made up for.  Early socialization is SO
important!  

Although general practice veterinarians will tell you to
essentially keep your puppy isolated until he has
received a full set of shots, trainers and behaviorists
alike have made a good case for the importance of early
socialization (before 12 weeks of age) – even without a
full set of inoculations.  This is something you must
research and come to your own conclusions on, however
many agree that the dangers of lack of socialization are
equal to or even greater than the dangers of possible
disease contraction.  Considering all the dogs in shelters,
having ended up there due to lack of socialization or
training, this is a strong argument. However, with a
breed such as the Pit Bull, this is an extra tricky situation,
as they are known for having weak immune systems and
being prone to parvo – but also highly in need of early
socialization due to a propensity for being dog-sensitive
(a trait which can easily manifest itself in the form of dog-
directed aggression). All things considered, it may be
prudent to begin socialization prior to 12 weeks in very
controlled settings, around known dogs who have
already been inoculated, and in clean, safe environments.

Early Socialization of Puppies

AVSAB Position on Puppy Socialization
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new people and especially dogs in a controlled, monitored
setting. Take your pup through a class once, maybe even
twice, and as young as the school will let you (usually 8
weeks--up until 6 months of age). It is very important that
the class is run by a savvy instructor, and that the pups are
closely monitored so any problems can be stopped before
they start.

It is important that you work to set your pup
up to SUCCEED and allow him to be only in
situations where he has opportunities to be rewarded
constantly for GOOD behavior – as well as protecting him
from the bad behavior of other dogs.

Mouthy play that is rough and tumble is normal, but be aware
of stress signs in your pup as well as in other dogs.  If your
pup learns that he can bully other dogs and
play rough early on in life, the behavior could escalate.  Same
goes in reverse – if your pup learns that being around other
dogs isn’t fun because he gets hurt and bullied, he is likely to
get defensive and defensiveness can very easily turn into
preemptive aggressive displays.

Locate a puppy k class through one of the following sites:

www.karenpryoracademy.com

www.trulydogfriendly.com

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