Coton de Tulear Socialization

by Shellie
(Coeur D Alene, Idaho)

My Coton was not socialized as a puppy. I brought her home when she was 6 months old. Before that she had only been around other animals.

She runs and hides from anyone but me and then sometimes will not come to me. My teen daughters are so hurt by her behavior. We have been taking her out when possible to socialize her. Is this typical of Cotons? I read they are loyal to their families but she doesn't seem to want to bond to the family. What do we do?

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May 10, 2011
by: Shellie

Thank you for the great advice. I will try all the suggestions and get back to everyone.

Mar 15, 2011
by: Anonymous

The cotons I know are very social so this does seem unusual.

I think Victoria Stilwell recommends having treats around so when someone walks in the door, they can toss a treat to the dog so the dog learns new people mean nice things. Newcomers should not make eye contact with the dog as this can be interpreted as confrontation. People shouldn't grab for the dog but sit quietly and allow the dog to approach them and then quietly give them a treat.

I make treats with turkey hot dogs cut VERY small and microwaved to the texture of jerky. My sister-in-law is a dog trainer and she says it's not the size of the treat but the taste. Every dog I've introduced to the turkey dog treats has loved them. And if you cut them up really small you can give the dog a lot of treats without filling them up or making them sick.

I cut one turkey dog (NOT the fat-free kind - they burn) into four quarters longwise and then slice thin to make 2-3 dozen treats per hot dog. Then spread them out and microwave them 3-5 minutes until all the moisture is out of them and they are like jerky. Store in a plastic container or bag. They won't spoil before you use them up if you get all the moisture out.

Mar 10, 2011
Socialization Issues
by: Jill

Gale - great advice!

Shellie -

I too adopted a 10 month coton who hadn't been socialized well - only with animals and men. We have 3 daughters under 10 who desperately wanted to bond with our coton and it just takes time. Use the techniques Gale spoke of.

Our oldest did training and it worked great. But Dexter only bonded with our 8 year old after December - 7 months after adopting him. It does take time to build that trust. Stick with it - it's SOOO worth it. Unfortunately Dex is still not fond of our 6 year old - she's too loud and energetic for him. I have faith it will turn around, too. She is now in charge of feeding him.

I have also found that putting him on a leash helps when I know someone will be coming over. This helps to keep him from barking and hiding under tables. Dex also runs in circles around the table amnd barks when the girls come home from school or someone comes through the door. Trying to anticipate what makes him anxious, then putting him on a leash settles him down a lot. He knows I am in control of him and he is safe. Follow up with a reward/treat.
Good luck!


Mar 08, 2011
Socializing an older dog
by: Gale

I don't think it's typical behavior of a Coton; they thrive on interaction and attention. I think it's typical behavior of dogs who aren't socialized at an early age.

I know it can be heartbreaking to see your dog afraid and anxious instead of happy and content. It just takes extra time and attention, but you can definitely turn it around.

Group obedience training is a great way to train your dog and get her used to being around other people and animals. Training is so important with fearful dogs because it lets your dog know that you are in charge and taking care of her. She definitely needs to learn basic commands like sit, stay, come, etc. Later, more advanced training can help her build trust and confidence.

When she runs and hides it's important not to run after her or yell at her to come back or she'll just get more afraid. It's a slow process of building her trust.

Using rewards often works. When she does come to you on her own, reward her with gentle praise or a treat or her favorite toy. She should always associate good things with being around "her people". Eventually it will be automatic.

I've seen rescue dogs who'd been severely neglected learn to trust and feel safe again, so with a little time and patience I think you'll see great results.

Good Luck

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