Social flooding leads to K9 social etiquette at Alden’s Kennels

Sakura, a miniature Schnauzer, center, learns some social skills through a 'social flooding' lesson at Alden's Kennels.

Some dogs are more attuned to the finer social graces than others. But, some dogs are a little less accustomed to the nuances of interacting within K9 society. At first sight of another dog they erupt into barking and/or growling. Some bounce and jump. Others cower.

Rolando Salvador, one of the expert dog trainers at Alden’s Kennels, 6810 Barnard Mill Road, Ringwood, has a little insight into how these dogs feel as he’s worked with dogs since he was 10. He knows that many dogs suffer bouts of insecurity and anxiety when they meet other dogs. He also knows how to relieve dogs of the fear of these social encounters.

Recently, Salvador helped a miniature Schnauzer named Sakura take the first tentative steps towards overcoming those fears. He had Sakura’s owner put her on a down-stay in the middle of almost a dozen unfamiliar dogs.

“The system is called ‘flooding,’” Salvador said. “You flood the dog with stimuli.”

In the process, Salvador said the dog learns there’s nothing to worry about. However, it’s not just as easy as sticking a dog in the middle of other dogs. For instance, he said it’s important not to correct the dog for the wrong reasons.

“If the dog breaks because it’s not comfortable being with the other dogs the last thing you want to do is correct the dog for something it’s afraid of,” he said. “That just confuses the dog.”

Salvador said the key is to correct the dog for breaking a behavior it’s familiar with. In Sakura’s case, when she tried to sneak out of the circle of dogs, she was corrected for breaking a down-stay.

“Over time, you do that repeatedly, and the dog is like, ‘It’s not so bad being around these other dogs,’” Salvador said.

He added that it’s critical that the trainer is in charge. Not only with that help to avoid any violent interactions between nervous dogs, it also comforts the dogs. It reassures them that nothing bad will happen.

Sakura did well with her first experience in social flooding. She only broke from a down-stay a couple of times. A few more sessions and she may be ready for K9 high society.

To learn more about dog training at Alden’s Kennels, click here:

About aldenskennels

Hi, I am the President of Alden's Kennels Inc. in Ringwood, McHenry County IL. I have been in the pet industry for over 25years. I am your pets vacation planner, why leave your pets at home when they can have the vacation they deserve, in McHenry County IL. We board and train and have field trips to the best pet places.
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