While it’s true that each dog is different when it comes to being calm and friendly, in general, most Dachshunds are not naturally that way.
These feisty dogs are natural born hunters prone to anxiety so you have to create a calm, friendly Dachshund.
The way to do that is through socialization and confidence training.
This is a part of dog training that is often overlooked, but it’s one of the most important.
Socializing your Dachshund will decrease the chances that your pup will develop these common behavior issues.
So let’s take a look at what socializing and confidence training are, why they are important, and how to teach them.
What is Socialization and Why is It Important?
The term socialization is a misnomer and, unfortunately, doesn’t accurately communicate what is involved in achieving a “well socialized Dachshund”.
Contrary to how it may sound, socialization does not mean your only aim is to turn your Dachshund into the life of the party.
It does not mean introducing your Dachshund to every dog that you meet on your walks.
Socializing your Dachshund means that you are helping them become accustomed to a variety of smells, sounds, sights, and experiences.
When you socialize your Dachshund, you are building their confidence while helping prevent a fear of new people, dogs, and other things they will encounter in life.
Socialization means gently introducing your Dachshund to new stimuli while ensuring all experiences are positive (ie. rewarding with plenty of treats and never forcing your dog to do something).
A well-socialized Dachshund is generally confident and comfortable in unfamiliar situations.
They will be more flexible and willing to go-with-the-flow.
If you’re someone who likes to travel with your Dachshund, take them on outings, meet up with friends in public places, or regularly have guests over to your house, it’s especially crucial that you properly socialize them.
Socializing your Dachshund can help them:
- Get used to new sights, sounds and smells
- Learn to walk and go potty on different surfaces such as grass, rocks and concrete
- Properly greet and play with other canine friends
- Be friendly toward humans and children
- Become comfortable in new places such as hotels, stores, the car, friend’s houses, etc.
When a Dachshund is confident, they will seem relatively unfazed by other dogs, people, and distractions.
On the other hand, a Dachshund that isn’t confident may be fearful and untrusting of unfamiliar things, causing them to react negatively by barking excessively, lunging, trying to run away, acting in an aggressive manner, or trying to bite.
It’s important to raise a confident Dachshund to help prevent these negative behaviors.
Also, your Dachshund will be calmer and happier overall.
When Should You Start Socializing Your Dachshund?
Socializing your Dachshund before 16 weeks of age is critical.
This is when your puppy is the most impressionable and when they will ultimately become fearful or brave.
If you adopt an adult Dachshund, it’s still possible to improve their socialization skills through repetition and positive reinforcement training.
However, it’s unlikely that a Dachshund who wasn’t properly socialized as a puppy will ever be able to fully overcome their anxiety and general fearfulness.
I’m speaking from experience as I adopted my Dachshund Gretel at 11 months old.
She was not socialized as a puppy and her anxiety level was so high that the veterinarian had prescribed her Prozac.
Twelve years later, while she has calmed down with age, consistent love, and training, she never has fully overcome her anxiety and walks almost everywhere with her tail tucked between her legs.
How to Raise a Well Socialized and Confident Dachshund
There are several techniques that will help socialize your Dachshund and boost their confidence.
Below are the most common and effective exercises for building confidence.
The premise for all of them is similar – introduce the new thing, let your pup explore it at their own pace, and encourage a positive association through plenty of praise and reward (treats).
Exposure to strange dogs and people
While I said earlier in the article that socialization is not forcing an introduction with every new dog you meet, it is important to introduce your dog to unfamiliar dogs and people in a controlled environment.
If your dog can respond to these potential triggers in a supervised setting, they are more likely to respond favorably in other areas of life too.
When I took a puppy socialization class with my Dachshund Summit, we spent time merely being in a room with new dogs and people where she could observe them from behind a fence and a safe distance.
When she showed interest and curiosity toward other dogs and people, she was allowed to meet one or two while the interaction was closely monitored.
Eventually, she was allowed more freedom to play and interact with other dogs as long as neigher dog was showing signs of discomfort or fear.
At the end of each class, with each dog returned to their individual fenced-in “cubicle”, the humans were instructed to do a brief exercise with several dogs that weren’t theirs.
For example, one day we were to feed other dogs treats and speak to them gently.
On another day, we each put something potentially scary on, like a hoodie, hat, glasses, etc, and walked around to all the dogs, praising and giving them treats again to make it a positive experience.
Once your dog is comfortable with interacting with new dogs and people in a controlled environment, you can start cautiously, and with permission, introducing them to other dogs and people “out in the world”.
Dachshunds that have some sense of independence are likely to be confident, less needy, or struggle with separation anxiety.
Independence is taught by slowly giving your Dachshund more and more time away from you (and any other people your dog is attached to).
The primary way to do this is to put your Dachshund in a dog crate (assuming they are crate trained), a pet pen, or block them in a room using a pet gate, and step out of sight.
At first, you will only step away for a few seconds and return to praise your Dachshund, and reward them with a training treat, if they are quiet.
Note: you coming back in the room is a reward, so try to only do it when your Dachshund is calm.
If your Dachshund starts screaming, barking, or otherwise carrying on right away, you may need to backtrack a little in training.
Try only stepping a short distance away where your dog can still see you or reduce the time you’re away.
If your Dachshund is quiet when they are separated from you, repeat the same procedure again to reinforce it and make sure it wasn’t a fluke.
Once your Dachshund is consistently quiet, you can start extending your time away and eventually start stepping outside of the house.
This exercise will help your Dachshund learn to be alone and do what’s called “self soothing”.
Train your Dachshund
A trained dog is a happy one, and working together will help strengthen your bond.
Contrary to what you might have heard, Dachshunds are not difficult to train.
A trained dog is a happy, confident dog, so training your Dachshund will greatly boost their confidence.
When a dog does a trick or listens, it makes the owner happy. When the owner is happy, that energy transfers to the dog.
No matter what you are training, the act of doing so teaches your dog to look for you for queues and teaches your dog to trust you in all situations.
Expose your Dachshund to new stimuli
Part of socialization and teaching confidence is exposing your Dachshund to different sights, sounds, smells, and surface types.
If your Doxie is only used to the smells inside your home, they may be fearful when venturing out in the world.
The same goes for sounds. Unfamiliar sounds can scare your dog.
When Summit was a puppy, I purposely took her outside on garbage day so she could hear the roar of the diesel engine and the loud beep.
Taking your Dachshund outside of the house to see and smell new things will build confidence.
Just be sure not to expose your dog to too many new things at once and start with less scary things and work up from there.
Remember it’s also very important to teach your Dachshund to walk on different surfaces.
I once dog sat a Dachshund who only ever walked on carpet. We had hardwood floors.
I had to position our area rugs into “tracks” so the dog would move throughout the house because he refused to step off the carpet.
Your dog will also need to learn that walking on gravel, asphalt, metal grates, and wood planks is not scary.
Give your Dachshund to new experiences
Give your Dachshund as many new experiences as you can without it being overwhelming.
When Summit was a puppy, I took her almost everywhere in the car with me.
I socialized her before being fully vaccinated by carrying her in a sling bag to the mall and out to eat at dog friendly restaurants.
I took her into the woods, setting her on the dirt and letting her explore.
I took her to the park, sat on the bench, and rewarded her with treats every time a “scary” bike or skateboard went by.
I rode the bus with her around Seattle so she could get used to the sound and motion.
Exposing your Dachshund to new experiences will help them build confidence and be less fearful the next time something new comes along.
Give them undivided attention
I know, puppies are crazy and cute so how can you not pay keen attention to them?
This is a little different though because your aim is to ignore distractions and focus only on bringing your Dachshund joy for 5-10 minutes.
You can play with a favorite toy or combine this one with a training session (as long as your puppy is having a fun time while doing it).
Spending focused time with your Dachshund will increase their confidence because they are learning to value you and your relationship.
The more your Dachshund values you and the bond you two have, the more likely they will be to trust you and look to you for direction when they are unsure, fearful, or anxious.
Signs Your Dachshund Hasn’t Been Properly Socialized
If you’ve adopted an older Dachshund, they may lack confidence due to past trauma, improper socialization, or a variety of other reasons.
Dachshunds that were not properly socialized often exhibit one or more of these undesired behaviors:
- Excessive chewing or destructive behavior when separated from you
- Resource guarding or possessiveness
- Inappropriate urination (like submissive urination)
- Growling or excessively barking at strange people, dogs or objects
- Hiding when guests come over
A confident, well socialized Dachshund is less likely to feel the need to engage in such behaviors.
Keep in mind that not all Dachshunds lack confidence in all situations.
Your Dachshund may be fine around your friend’s dog but bark and lunge at dogs on the street.
Your Dachshund may act calm and relaxed around dogs of all breeds and sizes, but gets scared at the dog park and stands behind you the whole time (too many dogs can be overwhelming!).
It’s up to you to observe your Dachshund to determine whether they lack confidence in general, or only in specific situations, and work to correct that.
If your Dachshund is low on confidence when it comes to a particular situation, you will want to focus additional energy on those scenarios.
Calm, friendly Dachshunds are typically not born, they’re created through proper socialization.
Socialization can build your dog’s confidence and help them to go-with-the-flow in unfamiliar situations.
Socialization and confidence building techniques include exposing your Dachshund to new experiences, sights and sounds, dogs and people, and building a bond through training and one-on-one time.
The number one thing to remember when training and socializing your Dachshund is that this breed may require extra time and patience to get them as confident as they deserve to be.
Make sure to introduce your dog to new items and experiences slowly and reward them with plenty of praise and treats.
As you work through confidence-building exercises, you will likely notice a change in their overall personality.
If you feel like you are not making progress though, it may be time to consult with a professional – a dog trainer or behaviorist.
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