Puppy Socialization: Two Scenarios

by Ellen Landauer

Puppy socialization is seen as an essential part of dog rearing. 

What is really happening from the point of view of a young canine when commonly accepted puppy socialization methods are followed?

You may be VERY surprised to know the truth!

Dogs do not think or speak our words and language. Their language is not that of the intellect as ours commonly is, but always that of the heart, of feeling. Kevin Behan says, 'Dog intelligence is emotional intelligence.'

I am taking some artistic license here.

To help you understand what is really happening in these puppy socialization scenarios, I am giving the pup a voice in our language.


Conventional Puppy Socialization:
First Day in New Home

"I am surrounded by GIANTS! Big ones and little ones. They fascinate and scare me at the same time. Something deep in me is very attracted to them.

"They stand upright on hind legs and make gestures with their front paws. Their front paws have long toes on them that are like hooks - these look a little scary to me. The faces of the biggest ones seem far away - like the top of a tall tree. The little ones shriek in a very agitated way, as though upset or in pain, and they jump around a lot, shaking the ground.

"I am in total conflict - and afraid to be alone. My mother and puppy friends are not here; these creatures are now the only ones I see. I would love to get to know them better. I feel they are trying to connect with me - but they don't know how. It is terrifying. Though I am surrounded by all these warm-blooded creatures, I feel isolated. Since I was very small, I learned that giants also provide food; I am hoping they will give me something to eat.

"The big giants are not sure what to do. 'Be gentle, be nice,' they say to the smaller ones.' They are trying to help, but I can feel they are very nervous about something.

"A big and little giant are both standing over me. They look straight into my eyes with eyes big as saucers, their lips are drawn back showing rows of big square teeth, and they make unintelligible noises at me. This is so scary. They both loom over me at the same time, long limbs hanging down. Huge claws open and surround my body. I nearly go unconscious as their grip tightens; my throat constricts and I can't even cry out. I want to get away, but am scared to struggle in case that might make them bite me. 

"The big giant helps the little one lift me up in the air. As the little one holds me, she squeezes me harder and puts her face very close to mine. Is she going to eat me? I freeze, then go limp hoping she won't bite me.

"The big giants all smile and laugh. 'Oh, look how sweet!' they say. 'They are already bonding!'"

"I hear more screaming and squealing. A whole herd of small giants rushes in and surrounds the one that is holding me up in the air. Terror makes me frantic and I start to squirm and struggle. This makes them all scream louder. A big giant comes over, reaching out at me and saying, 'Calm down, kids. You could frighten him.' But the words have no meaning; I fear the big one's claws. I black out for a moment. When consciousness returns, I find that no one has bitten me. Maybe if I just stay really still, I will survive.

"The creature finally puts me down on the grass. It feels good to have all four feet on the cool, moist, nourishing earth. 

"I still feel very alone. But there, just a little distance away is the smallest of the giants. This one is also on all fours. He is just the right size! I am overjoyed and race over to him. 'Can we be friends?' I ask. 'You smell good.' I start to nibble softly on the creature's arm. He is not afraid, and makes a happy gurgling/giggling sound. Finally I have found a friend!

"But…

"All of a sudden, a big shadow and a booming noise - NO!! One of the big giants grabs me by the skin on my back. I am thrown violently away from my new friend. The whole herd of giants is staring at me and backing away. They are afraid and angry. I feel more alone than ever. The nightmare closes in - the echoing horror of a living death awaits…"


Puppy Socialization the Natural Way:
First Day in New Home

"These new creatures are BIG. They are comfortable to be near; they make happy sounds and sit down on the ground a lot. 

"When they take me out of the car, I am in the little cave (crate). It has a cushion inside and feels safe. At first I am afraid to come out into the big open yard.

"After the long trip, I am thirsty and hungry. The Big Ones have some nice-smelling meat and put a piece in the cave when they open it. They also put water nearby. I eat the meat. One creature puts another piece of meat in and touches me as I chew. The touching feels good - similar to when my Mom would lick me all over when I was a baby.

"The Big Ones sit nearby making soft noises among themselves, not looking at me. I study them carefully until it feels safe to come out. I walk over to the water and drink. The tiniest creature is looking at me and makes a squeaky sound, waving its little paws in the air. He is wiggling and I can't resist - I go right up to him and sniff his knee, then climb into his lap. He smells sweet, almost like another puppy. I sniff him and nibble on his paw. The Big Ones make funny noises - 'ha, ha, ha,' One of them comes over and sits nearby. I climb off the baby's lap and snuggle under the Big One's arm. 

"It's been a long day. I am tired and ready for a nap…"



Lots of Puppy Socialization Scenarios in
'Hunting for Heart'

With all the best intentions, I broke my puppy's heart!

What could my little Kiyla have become had I honored her true nature?

I will never know.

Kiyla, my first German Shepherd, had the best of everything - or so I thought. I studied armloads of books on training. Organic home prepared meals. Lots of time training; we even competed as a high-scoring duo in AKC Obedience competition. Kiyla accompanied me everywhere.

But something was missing...

It broke my heart to see the results of what I had done - even though it was the best I knew at the time.

'Hunting for Heart, Rediscovering Our Primordial Bond With Dogs' is the odyssey of my journey beyond commonly accepted premises to find a better way.




'Hunting for Heart,' the book