People have a lot of expectations these days for their dogs. While the majority of people probably aren't interested in competing with their dogs in dog sports I would bet that close to 100% of people want a dog that has good public manners and is comfortable in most environments. There is a ton of information out there on socializing for puppies but my thoughts are whether we ever really can stop "socializing" our dogs. I don't think we need to do the super vigilent type of puppy socializing but I do think that it is important to regularly challenge our dogs with new environments.
A few years ago I stopped with Riley to run some errands that include some dog friendly spots on a very busy street. He is a very confident dog but he was very distracted and a little bit stressed. I realized then that although I had done that sort of stuff when he was a puppy we rarely did it anymore. Those times had been replaced by hiking off leash on mountain trails in much calmer, quieter settings. I began stopping in strange places and popping out to walk for a few minutes or do some fun training. We had good puppy foundations so he adjusted back to being comfortable within a few short sessions but it was a good lesson for me. That exposure is important for everyday living and has the added benefit of helping our dogs be comfortable in competition environments.
Stella is a very environmentally aware dog. This was something I underestimated when researching the vizsla breed. Vizslas are bred to hunt, point and retrieve so it makes sense that they are going to be always keeping an eye out. Luckily even though she is vigilant she is also quite comfortable and happy to train in new and different environments. We did a lot of puppy socializing but part of her comfort is the ongoing exposure to new places. Our dogs travel with us, go camping and often go along just for a car ride. Living on the west coast means we aren't subject to very many temperature extremes which makes it easier for them to tag along. On our recent camping trip she barked about her observations a fair amount for the first few days but then seemed to settle down into the new routine. She is a vocal dog (loves to roo-roo and talk) and the barking was not in an aggressive manner but she needed to figure out that not everything in the area is her business. Things are also a bit different for her recently with Riley being activity restricted as I think she takes his cues on how to respond sometimes. It sucks that he is restricted but has probably been good for her to have more "alone" time and make her own choices.
Here are a few more pics from our camping trip.