Wet weather — finally! In addition to being good for our water supply (though still a drop in the proverbial bucket), this also presents a fantastic, albeit, slightly goofy socialization opportunity for you and your puppy or young dog. Before you slide on your galoshes, let me explain. Dogs who grow up without being exposed to much can develop fears. A fear of rain is one of them. Other common fears include car rides, stairs and vacuum cleaners, even certain types of people such as men, little people and people with deep voices, facial hair or people riding bikes or skateboards. So, your job is to expose them to all these things and people at an early age and help your dog develop confidence and comfort through familiarity. You can start this weekend by taking a walk in the rain with your dog. Make the outdoors your training lab this weekend. Take your pup in your yard while it’s raining and do something fun. If she has a favorite toy, play a game of fetch and praise her more than you normally do when she retrieves. If you don’t have a yard, take a short walk with her on leash. Give her treats during the walk, practice the “sit” command when you reach street corners and offer a lot of “good girls” when she obeys. The idea is to make the game of fetch or the walk the most fun she’s ever had. Once you do this with her a few times — multiple outings over the weekend or a short period of time are ideal — your dog won’t associate rainy weather with negative reactions like hesitancy or fear. You can apply the same idea to other things that elicit fears. Then, you won’t have those situations you need to work around, which can be slightly annoying to life altering.
Scott oversees PHS/SPCA’s Adoption, Behavior and Training, Education, Outreach, Field Services, Cruelty Investigation, Volunteer and Media/PR program areas and staff from the new Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion.