There are a lot of great materials available now on socializing puppies and raising puppies so that they have the best chances in life to become adaptable members of their families and their societies. We started using Puppy Culture with our F litter in 2020 and found that it created an outstanding foundation for the puppies. Since then, we have endeavored to expand our knowledge to help our Sloughis to thrive. We also really love the Avidog Puppy Socialization program.
Helping Sloughis to achieve their fullest potential does not end at 12-16 weeks. While many Sloughis will grow into confident, curious adults without special training, efforts to help build their confidence and exposing them to various places, people and experiences is good for every dog and will strengthen the bond between the Sloughi and its owner.
Sloughis are very fast learners and, generally speaking, they are emotionally soft dogs. I have a very good friend, Stephanie, who breeds whippets. She ran into one of our puppies that she had met at 8 weeks of age, with its new owner at a dog show several months later. The puppy immediately recognized Steph, and she remarked to me that Sloughis seem to have a greater memory than most dogs for people that they have previously met. She is absolutely right. Sloughis have extraordinary memories for people and experiences, both positive and negative.
Sloughis have extraordinary memories for people and experiences, both positive and negative.
For this reason, it is imperative with Sloughis that you allow them the opportunities to build numerous positive experiences as they are maturing. Negative experiences, particularly during the second fear imprint period (6-14 months) can have lasting effects. This impact can be permanent if it is not handled properly.
Dogs do not fake fear.
Puppies should never, ever be pushed when they are afraid. Dogs do not pretend to be afraid. If your Sloughi is acting fearful, it is because she is afraid or apprehensive. If you push your puppy who is exhibiting this behavior, and try to force the situation, you will destroy your puppy’s trust in you and you will confirm for her that she is not safe with you.
How do you help an anxious Sloughi? By backing up. If your puppy is nervous in a crowded environment, you need to back up to the last place your puppy felt confident. If your puppy is confident walking around your block but becomes fearful at a playground full of children, begin by walking your puppy around the park 30′ or 40′ or 50′ away from the noisy children. Find the distance at which your puppy feels safe. By safe, I mean the distance at which she is willing to engage you, to take treats from you, to play with you, to wag her tail. The distance at which she is not distracted by being hypervigilant to the stimulus that is causing her anxiety. Once she has spent time at that distance very successfully, quit for the day. At your next session, begin at the same distance and then advance a few feet and make her comfortable there. Repeat until she is happy and comfortable being near the children. Don’t let the children or strangers approach her if it causes her anxiety. The puppy must first gain confidence before she is challenged by the situations causing her to be fearful.
Sloughis remember positive and negative experiences for life and overfacing a Sloughi with frightening experiences can create a chronically fearful/anxious dog.
I recently came across this blog post by the amazing Susan Garrett of Shaped by Dog, and I think it is outstanding advice from an elite trainer with decades of experience.