Submit Content

The Chew: The Importance of Environmental Socialization

The Chew column banner

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

A few years ago, one of my friends had a rare vacation in which she was unable to take her black Lab, Moonpie, along for the fun. She asked if I could take care of her for the week instead of boarding her. This was before I had a dog of my own and I thought it could be great training for me in becoming a dog owner, something I’d always wanted to experience.

One day, I decided to take her hiking on my favorite trail. When we got to our first manhole cover, instead of walking over it, she detoured around it. I thought it kind of funny so every time we approached another manhole cover, I would observe her behavior. Each time she went out of her way to avoid walking over them.

That night, I spoke with Moonpie’s owner Sonia, and asked about her dog’s little quirk.  She told me, “I know! At some point in time she must have walked over one and maybe it was too hot, or loose or something? Whatever it was, it scared her to death and she thinks manhole covers are the devil now.”

Last year, I was invited to a doggy dip and observed the different ways dogs reacted to a swim in the pool. Some jumped in head first, while others avoided getting too close to the edge. A few clung to their owners in fear. “If a puppy isn’t socialized during the first three months it can increase the risk of behavior problems later in life such as fear, avoidance and aggression,” says veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker.

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we recommend introducing a dog to as many different environments as possible. We work with our clients on having a well-rounded dog and to minimize the development of potential fear factors. While socializing your pup with other dogs is important, we think it’s just as important to take socialization a step further.

Introduce Different Environments

When you bring home a puppy or a rescued dog, expose them to as many different environments as possible. Show them how it feels to walk on grass, sand, gravel, pavement, dirt and mud. Lead them into water so they can experience that sensation. Take them outside when it’s raining or snowing to familiarize them with different weather conditions. Because puppies are more malleable, taking them out in different weather conditions can diminish the likelihood of developing a fear of such conditions as they mature.

Taking your dog to unfamiliar buildings is also important. Introduce them to pet friendly buildings and unusual spaces like pet stores, flea markets and outdoor shopping centers, both crowded and sparse.

Put them in your car and visit family and friends who won’t mind having you and your dog over for a visit. Your presence will help ensure your dog’s confidence.

Environmental socialization may be challenging if you bring home an adult dog that already has certain fears or dislikes instilled in him. However, if you expose your dog to these different environments, you will gain valuable insights and can begin to put a counter-conditioning plan into action if needed.

Every dog may react differently to new environments but widening your dog’s environmental socialization will improve your dog’s confidence and make YOU feel more confident the next time you are out together on a new adventure.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

Recent Stories

As Arlington County continues collecting feedback on the preliminary concept plan to turn Langston Blvd into a “Green Main Street” over several decades, a few disagreements have emerged. Some say…

RSVP to learn about the Forestry and Natural Resources Plan during the virtual open house tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Within the first five minutes of Netflix’s new series Partner Track, Arlington native and Yorktown High School graduate Alexandra Turshen already has her “boss” moment by telling the new paralegal…

The Arlington Art Truck is back this fall starting October 1 with an exhibit focused on Arlington’s birds.

Now you can have fun with your family and friends when deciding where to eat!

Just hop aboard The Lunch Train and set the destination for: breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or nightlife!

– No app necessary. Simply go to the website if you’d like!
– No account necessary
– Use your current location or a desired location
– Add restaurants you’re interested in, invite your friends, and play the game!

Submit your own Community Post here.

Lyon Park & Ashton Heights’ biennial home & garden biennial tour is back. The tour will include contemporary custom homes, older historic bungalows as well as renovated properties. One of the stunning homes on the tour is pictured above.  In addition to beautiful & unique homes, the Villa & Vistas ’22 event will conclude with a festive reception at the Lyon Park Community Center at 414 N Fillmore Street, Arlington VA 22201. What could be better right?

All proceeds from this event will go to the Lyon Park Citizens Association (LPCA) towards our neighborhood jewel & hub, the Lyon Park Community Center (LPCC).

When: Sunday, October 2nd, Noon – 4 PM. 

Where: Meet to get your tickets and the tour map at the Lyon Park Community Center (414 N Fillmore Street) We will have a table with information outside.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved

Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved. Join ACFCU for our Homebuying

Pink Carpet Event Charity Fashion Show

The Pink Carpet Event Charity Fashion Show will feature our fabulous breast cancer survivors slaying the runway! Designers from Baltimore and the Washington, DC Metropolitan area will bring exquisite fashion and glamour to this event. Professional male and female designs


Subscribe to our mailing list