Dogs are social animals biologically adapted to operate in a pack for best survival chances. Descending from a common ancestor with today’s wolves, their behavior evolved to fit into a canine family, and more recently a human family.
However those natural behaviors must be nurtured in order to fully develop.
Breeders are the ones that begin the process, by handling and being around the puppies. They also get used to all our human technology from house to TV, other humans and sometimes other pets.
Hypothetically speaking, if you would to steal a few months old puppy from a dog family in the wild, it will likely be fearful or aggressive because of the lack of human socialization.
This also depends on the breed: Catahoulas are naturally more incline to be suspicious of strangers, so they need more human interaction to avoid aggressive or over-protective behavior.
The breeders socializing part is only the foundation: the owner will then have to follow-up with education and training to have the perfect pet.
So let’s focus today on the owner’s part of socialization, the one that is useful for those that got their puppy Catahoulas from a breeder, but also for those that rescued an adult Catahoula from a shelter.
Every human being on the planet is different, some are big, others are thin, some are small, others are tall, some are black and others white, etc
We also have an infinity of personalities: some get angry quickly while others stay calm for example.
Plus, to make things more complicated we happen to wear different clothes depending on the season and Catahoulas are a breed that are sensitive to those little things.
What to do ?
Ask a friend to come at your house with a cowboy hat: this is not a regular human being for your Catahoula and he will be suspicious.
The key is to accustom your Catahoula to a ton of different human sizes, shapes, colors, clothing, personality and accessories.
You can do that by asking friends and family to present themselves in a unique way and giving a treat to your Catahoula Leopard Dog so that he understands he doesn’t have to be overprotective over this kind of people.
Another solution is when you know strangers will come to your home (like the postman for example), get yourself ready in advance, attach your dog or hold him and reward him with treats when he tolerates the postman.
Do not reward him if he barks, unless you want him to bark every time someone passes by …
Catahoula Curs are excellent family pets but first you have to make them experience a variety of ages and personalities: boys are often agitated and girls scream a lot, plus a toddler won’t poke repetitively your dog as your 5 year old kid might.
Stay aware of your Catahoula’s stress level around children. If you see your dog is uncomfortable around a child or a group, help him out.
Things can escalate quickly and somebody might get hurt.
Have you ever noticed than when you go out a lot you tend to be a lot more outgoing than when you live like a hermit ?
Well, it’s the same with your Catahoula: tolerance and adaptability can and always needs to be trained.
In the months of winter my Catahoulas tend to see few people and when spring comes along the cautiousness towards other humans made it’s way back.
Living in the city is good to avoid this situation but don’t forget to visit the countryside from time to time, as physical training is also very important for your Catahoulas to thrive!