Quest Makes His First New Dog Friend

charlie-and-quest

Its been about a week since I brought Quest home to my place in Omaha. I wanted to give him time to get settled before we started to socialize him with other dogs. It can take a dog a few days to a week or so until they reacclimatize to their new surroundings.

Because the Critical Socialization Period is a fear period, it was important to make sure Quest was comfortable and confident before we started exposing him to unknown dogs. Building a confident puppy takes some time and forethought.

Picking the first outside dog for your puppy to meet is pretty important. Pick the wrong dog and the encounter can cause your puppy to loose confidence and start trying to avoid new dogs. That can scar your puppy for life. Take some time and pick a dog that is calmer, listens well and plays well with smaller dogs.

Ideally you want to find a dog who is of a similar size, energy and if possible maturity level. I didn’t know any puppies who fit that bill so I elected to introduce Quest to Charlie, a poodle mix that was surrendered to me after his guardian passed away.

I placed Charlie with my parents and he is about the happiest dog you will ever meet. He was older than I would have liked, but knowing his size, personality and play style more than compensated for his age (approximately 3-4 years).

I started things off outside. Inside can feel a little confined to dogs and puppies and I wanted to give Quest every advantage to make sure the first new dog meeting was a good one for the puppy behavior encounter.

As you can see in the video, Quest was a little bit uncertain at first. Charlie was all revved up to start playing, but I could see Quest needed a little time so I asked Charlie to stand down and stay for a bit.

One tip, make sure your puppy has a lower place to escape to if it feels overwhelmed. A chair, table or other area that can provide a refuge can be just the thing your puppy needs to feel that he or she has control and can get away if they want or need to.

If your puppy does seek out this low shelter, DO NOT PULL THEM OUT. Especially for early socialization interactions like this. You want your puppy to do it on their own time and because they want to; not because you pull or lure them out. Give them time and remember, they are still babies and this is an awfully big world to them.

I kept Charlie in a sit stay for a few minutes while observing Quest. My puppy’s tail is a really good barometer for how he is feeling so I waited for it to come up and his body language to look nice and relaxed.

After about five minutes, Quest started to approach Charlie from behind. The first time it was a quick sniff then he ran away. Because nothing bad happened and Charlie didn’t chase him when he ran away, Quest got a boost of confidence and it was time for the boys to play!

It was great seeing Quest build his confidence pup on his own and then reap the rewards of some serious play time with Charlie. While this may seem like a small thing, this encounter and the way I staged it will go a long way towards ensuring that Quest is confident around other dogs for the rest of his life.

After the dogs had run around so much that they laid down on the grass to take a break, we were ready to head inside.

Because I let Quest take his time and come up to Charlie on his own terms, the change in setting didn’t throw him off a bit. Charlie helped with multiple “play bows” (As shown in the still of the video above). Best of all the encounter went off perfectly which will help Quest develop his social skills when meeting new dogs for the rest of his life.

Based on how well these two hit it off, its a safe bet that they will be buddies for life.

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