The Doggie Diaries - Does Your Dog Talk to Strangers?

More on PawNation: dog socialization, dog training, doggie diaries, doggiediaries

Pippi at basic-training class picture Anna Westhoff

Each week, Ben Westhoff shares the ups and downs of owning Pippi, the dalmatian mix he and his wife Anna adopted as a puppy in late 2009.

Anna wrote this week's column.

At our basic training class, our teacher often warned the class about allowing our pooches to meet and greet strange dogs that we encounter on walks. She recommended giving any unknown dogs a wide berth, just in case they are poorly trained or vicious. Yet at the same time, she stressed the importance of socializing our dogs properly. Socialization is key, after all, when boarding. This seemingly contradictory advice confused some of us. How does one socialize a dog without allowing it to spend time with new dogs?

Pippi loves going on walks through town, where we often encounter strangers. She loves meeting people -- especially children -- but she is even more energized when she can associate with other dogs. She mounts a full-on charm offensive, wagging her tail and lowering her front legs to show her playfulness, a little doggy smile on her lips and a sparkle in her eye. Fellow owners have remarked on how well she relates to other dogs, even ones who aren't always friendly.

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