Dog Socialization 101 

If you’re a dog owner then you’ve probably heard the term dog socialization or puppy socialization. But what does it really mean? 

Here’s what it doesn’t mean: putting your dog in a giant group of other dogs and hoping they get along. 


That’s not to say there’s no value in getting together with other dog owners and allowing your dogs to get acquainted and play together. Of course, you want your dog to get along with other dogs and be well trained, but that’s not what socialization is all about. 

You want your dog socialized to your life. If you travel and want your dog to travel with you or take them in stores with you often, then you need to familiarize them with those situations and practice navigating them. Getting your dog used to every life, like garbage trucks, delivery drivers, and trips to the vet are more valuable socialization skills. 


“Socialization is teaching your dog how to be a part of our social life.”

-Michael J. Soler, Master Dog Trainer 


Your dog is your companion, what places do you commonly visit? What is the activity level in your home? In other words, what environmental stressors is your dog likely to encounter as your companion? 

Do you live in a townhouse that has a noisy garbage truck that can be seen and heard from your front door? Do you often have friends over or participate in group gatherings? These are situations you should socialize your dog for so that they aren’t stressors and possible points of conflict between you.  

Some common areas for socialization: 

  • Vet Visit 

  • Dog Park 

  • Public areas like a park or a store 

  • Vacuum 

  • Visitors 

  • Mail/Delivery Person 


Dangers to avoid when considering : 

  • Doing too much too fast. 

  • Not listening to your dog’s body language

  • Not being consistent 


Take things slowly, especially at first. Make the first step very simple and build on each success until your dog is behaving how you want them doing in whatever social setting they are in. 

Watch body language, if it changes and you reward that behavior without noticing it, then the wrong behavior is reinforced and can become more problematic later. This happens often with jumping, owners don’t mind being greeted by their dog jumping on them but expect them to not jump on others. Which is why consistency is so important. 


What to do: (as restrictions ease)

  • Start taking your dog on car rides 

  • Visit the vet, groomer, overnight facilities 

  • Maybe a brewery or whatever you like to do, even the park

Car rides help get dogs used to going somewhere. If the only car ride they ever have is to go to the vet who gives them shots and scares them, then they avoid getting in the car. If they take regular car rides where you drive around to stop, let them walk around, and earn a treat, then car rides mean fun one on one time with you. Stopping by the vet office for a friendly visit where they get a treat a wave means the vet isn’t always scary and it’s not something to be avoided. Do the vet stop like once a month, take a car ride once a week. 

Make the first visit to a park or a brewery brief. Let them sniff around, give them a treat and if they seem nervous, let that be it and come back again in a week or two. Gradually lengthen the visits based on their reaction. 

Pay attention to your dog’s body language and what they are telling you.  

Remember socialization is getting desensitized to everyday stresses. 

If you want to take your dog to large gatherings in the future, visit malls, and shopping areas while they aren’t crowded to acquaint them with the concept, so later it’s not as overwhelming. This applies to anywhere you will want to take your dog in the future…try to get them familiar with the places now without anything happening. 


What are your 2021 plans? 

Once life is more ‘back to normal’, will you want your dog to go camping, travel, visit crowded places, see more people? 

Think about what your next year is going to look like and start getting your dog socialized for those situations now. With limited crowds in most places, it’s a great time to introduce your dog to a new venue without the added stress of lots of people. 

Don’t get careless – just because your dog seems to be perfectly trained in your living room doesn’t mean that training can hold up to stressors in the outside world without practice. 

Get our Puppy Socialization Guide for FREE 


Track behaviors and progress and follow best practices to get your pup socialized properly with our Puppy Socialization Guide! 

Use code DOGTALK at check out to get it for FREE (shipping not included) Get your copy here.


Keeping your dog on a routine.

Routines are important to dogs, it’s how they naturally interact with the world around them, they like to know what’s happening and know what to expect. 

The recent COVID-19 measures have brought drastic changes to the lives of many of our pets and then as more of us have been going back to work in person and daily routines are changing again. 



Stay consistent.

During this season of uncertainty and change, find a routine for your dog that can be maintained in a similar fashion regardless of where you are working or what else you are doing. Consistent walking and feeding times along with consistent wake and sleep times are ways to help your dog know what to expect every day no matter what it might look like. 

If you have more time at home during remote work, but don’t normally, perhaps save the extra walks for the weekends, mornings, or evenings so that you can either maintain these new routine elements or gradually ease them away. 


Date your dog. 

That’s right, your dog and you share a relationship and like any relationship, it needs nurturing and individual attention. Pick once or twice a week, or more, whatever fits your schedule, and have a date with your dog. Be sure this is a time you can maintain no matter what your work schedule might look like or how active your social life might become. 

Not only will this help your dog know what to expect, but it will also give you both a chance to deepen your bond with one another. 


Training is playtime. 

Keep training and playtime consistent as well. Just because there aren’t as many outings to dog parks or as much pent up energy or anxiety to deal with doesn’t mean training should stop. Our motto here is to never stop training. Training gives you both something familiar to work on, and in times of uncertainty, that can bring a sense of comfort. 


Make the most of your dog’s routine and playtime with quality dog training at home! Our Dog Owner University offers virtual training that you and your dog can work through at your own pace. Get more information here.

Remember, dogs are wonderful companions, and if you’re in a situation where you can’t be very social or even see a lot of other people, take comfort that you’re never truly alone when you’re a dog owner. Especially when you have food, haha. 


Welcome to Dog Owner University

It’s finally time! 


We’re excited to bring you a completely new experience in dog training. After a lot of hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm, we are proud to announce our long-awaited virtual training option, Dog Owner University, is now available and open for enrollment! 


What exactly is Dog Owner University? 

Dog Owner University Programs are available virtually, so you never have to leave your house to use them or participate in them. 

What are the benefits of training virtually?

By training virtually you’ll never have to worry about scheduling conflicts, commuting, or changes to recommended activities due to a pandemic. You will have high-quality dog training RIGHT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. 

  • Train on your own schedule. 
  • Train where it makes the most sense for you. 
  • Train at your own pace. 
  • Get all of the equipment and support that you need to succeed!


Train on your own schedule. 

Life can be crazy, and now it’s even more unpredictable than normal. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to train when it’s most convenient for you and your dog? Dog Owner University makes that possible! 

Train where it makes the most sense for you.  

Most of us are staying home a lot more now, training at home or in a local park might make more sense than in a training center. Dog Owner University can even go on the road with you!  

Train at your own pace.  

Dogs sometimes need more work to really learn certain commands, while others breeze right through. With Dog Owner University you can spend extra time on something in particular when necessary and work quickly through other skills if that makes more sense. 

Get all of the equipment and support you need to succeed!

Dog Owner University is about more than giving you the instructional tools you need to give your dog high-quality dog training. We will also have packages available that include all needed equipment and packages that include one on one time with a professional dog trainer.  

Pro tip: If a dog trainer is the person who introduced your dog to the consistency of the training process, then your dog has never learned to break the rules with them as they did you. Your consistency, as your dog’s main trainer, makes them realize that taking advantage of you, does not get them more of what they want.  

So often we hear about how great a dog is with the trainer but as soon as they go home, their behavior slips back into old habits. Using our training modules online with Dog Owner University not only eliminates this issue, but it enables the dog trainer to observe the dog in their home and the behavior they resort to, helping the training provide the proper guidance to you, the dog owner.  


What programs are offered?

We are currently offering our Puppy Platinum Program and our Coaching Unleashed Program but will be adding more in the future. (Have a request? Let us know!) 

The Puppy Platinum Program has three options:

  • Puppy Platinum Program 
  • Puppy Platinum Program Plus 
  • Puppy Platinum Program VIP


Puppy Platinum Program – $397 

You get access to our virtual puppy platinum training program which mirrors our popular puppy training program that teaches your puppy foundational commands that you will utilize throughout your dog’s life. Some of these commands are Sit, Down, Come, Loose Leash Walking, Wait at the Door and Name Recognition! This program includes 6 months of online access to all training modules. 


Puppy Platinum Program Plus – $497 

Includes everything in the Puppy Platinum Program


All necessary equipment for the program will be provided and mailed to you.


Puppy Platinum Program VIP – $997

Includes everything in the Puppy Platinum Program Plus

You also get the VIP treatment:

One on one coaching time with master dog trainer Michael J. Soler.


Coaching Unleashed – $397/month

Have a specific training issue or special situation? Get exactly the training and expert advice you need for your dog and specific training needs with our Coaching Unleashed program. You’ll get:

  • Unlimited coaching emails and conversations with our master dog trainer Michael J. Soler.
  • 2 hours of coaching calls per month
  • Video recording of coaching calls
  • Homework Assignments



How do I sign up?

Register now with the form below for our Puppy Platinum Program and receive 10% off!  


Dog Owner University Early Access

We’re Growing!  

We have exciting news! 


The Blue Line K-9 family is growing! Please join us as we expand the Blue Line K-9 family and training resources to North Carolina!  

Blue Line K-9 Raleigh is located just outside of Raleigh, NC, the team there serves Raleigh and the surrounding areas: Clayton, Auburn, Garner, Apex, Cary, Morrisville, Knightdale, Wendell, Wake Forest, Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, and has been working with dogs and their families 2015.


What does the Blue Line K-9 name stand for?

We believe in helping to keep dogs in their homes, have fun in their homes, build great bonds with their families, and live their best life! We are committed to making each training experience fun and effective while keeping it safe and easy. 



dog training, Raleigh, Blue Line K-9, dogs

Meet the owner: 


After serving as a police and K-9 officer for 23 years, owner Jeff Malzahn retired in order to pursue his passion of helping dogs and their owners build better relationships full-time.

Jeff is excited to pursue his goal of passing his knowledge and experience to dog owners in Wake and Johnston counties and the greater Raleigh area in North Carolina. He currently owns a Belgian Malinois, Luther, a pitbull he found at Tractor Supply named Zoey and a Chihuahua named Tito. Jeff lives in Johnston County with his wife  Allie Malzahn who was also a police officer for 20 years.  Allie’s love is all things fitness-related including running and Crossfit.  They have 3 wonderful daughters Olivia, Ella, and Sophia. They stay busy with their daughter’s basketball, volleyball and soccer games.

dog training, dog trainers, Raleigh, Blue Line K-9

Growing to give more of the same quality dog training to more people and their dogs.


Blue Line K-9 Raleigh is teaming up with Michael J. Soler and Blue Line K-9 Maryland to offer quality dog training that clients have come to appreciate and expect from the Blue Line K-9 name, expand and better our programs to be able to offer more high-quality training to more people in more places, like offering our new online training options with Dog Owner University to further build the relationship between owners and their dogs. 

A  passion for dogs is at the heart of Blue Line K-9 dog training and the Raleigh team demonstrates these qualities in everything they do. Working with dogs can be the most rewarding experience and we are excited to grow and continue to pursue the rewarding work that helps enhance the lives of dog owners and their relationships with their canine companions.

With a focus on building bonds and teaching people how to be champions for their dogs with our education-based systems, we’ll be offering board and train programs, private lessons, and new platinum programs, along with online training options through Dog Owner University. (coming soon!) 

Know someone in the Raleigh area looking for dog training? Send them over to the newest member of the Blue Line K-9 family.

Want to join the Blue Line K-9 family? We would love to have you! Contact us to learn more about teaming up to offer more education-based options for quality dog training from any location. 


What’s your dog trying to tell you?

Our beloved canine companions speak to us in many ways without ever using words. Maybe you’re one of the many who prefer communicating with dogs over humans because of that. We’re not judging, don’t worry. Since dogs can’t say words to us, they find other ways to communicate and barking is a small fraction of how they let us know what’s going on. 

Body language is the most significant way dogs communicate with each other and with us. You can learn a lot from watching your dog’s body. However, one particular movement or posture might not tell the whole story. It’s important to watch the entire dog and to also consider the situation and context. Over time, you’ll learn what your dog means with each gesture. 

Some of the most common body language gestures to notice: 

  • Tail Wagging 
  • Tail Tucking
  • Raised Heckles 
  • Posture
  • Facial Expressions

Tail wagging is generally understood as the universal sign of a dog’s happiness. To be fair it can often mean just that, but not always. What it does mean is that a dog’s feeling emotions, that excitement could be related to happiness, but it could be related to frustration or even aggression as well. This is one of those times when context is very important as well as any other body language cues. 



Alternatively when a dog’s tail is pointed down or between their legs it means they are stressed and probably scared. 

Raised heckles, when the fur on a dog’s back is standing up means a dog is aroused and likely on high alert. It doesn’t always mean aggression but indicates a dog is very interested in something. 

Posture is how a dog holds their weight and says a lot about how a dog is feeling. A cowering dog who is hunched down is stressed and probably very afraid, it’s an attempt to make them appear smaller and pose less of a threat so as to not provoke whatever it is they are scared of. 

However, a dog shifting their weight forward in a sort of lunge like fashion shows a dog trying to get closer to something, a position we often see depicted of dogs hunting and showing their owner where the prey is. It can also be a sign of aggression as it make the dog appear larger and more fearsome to any perceived opponent. 

Another posture is the play bow or the downward dog as it’s called in yoga when a dog puts their chest on the ground and their rump in the air. This means they want to play. 

Paw raises or the “shake” gesture can be misunderstood. In certain situations it can indicate where there is nearby prey, but most of the time it means a dog is unsure about what’s happening or feels insecure. 




Just like with people, facial expressions allow dogs to communicate to others how they are feeling. Except their expressions don’t always mean the same thing ours do. Dogs might yawn when they are stressed rather than tired like us. Yawning can help them calm down. Like people dogs can also “catch” a yawn too, so if they seemed stressed, yawn so they will too and it might help calm them. 

Dogs also lick their lips after a meal like we humans do, however, they also lick their lips when they are feeling anxious. 

Dogs also smile, though it can look quite unsettling when they do because it looks a lot like when they barr their teeth which is a warning to back off or they will attack. Usually barring teeth into a snarl comes with growling and teeth on full display. The rest of the dog’s posture will be tight. When a dog is smiling teeth will be showing but not on full display usually and the rest of the dog’s posture will be loose and even wiggly. 



Dogs are amazing creatures who tell us so much if we are willing to pay attention to their behavior and body language. Getting to know your pup’s personality and common behaviors will lead to a lifetime of love in one of the most rewarding relationships you’ll ever have. 

We offer great training programs to both help you learn your dog’s body language and how to train them so that you both can live your best life together. Check out our programs here



Stuck at home? Make the most of it!

Recently, many of us have found ourselves spending a lot more time at home thanks to a certain health crisis we won’t bother naming again here. There’s a lot of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety for many reasons. 

You know one of the best ways to conquer anxiety? Spending time with a dog. It’s more than an opinion, science proves this as well

Though the situation isn’t ideal, our dogs are the real winners, they get to have their owners home with them so much more. With all the worry and uncertainty, let’s take that small token as a gift in all of the craziness. 



Now that you’re home with your dog, what can you do? Sit on the couch and watch Netflix? There’s certainly that, but when you and your dog are ready to stretch your legs and get some healthy movement, take a walk together, or better yet, tackle some training. 

Build training time and exercise into your day while you’re at home. Teaching basic commands and practicing them is a great way to make the most of the time while deepening your bond with your dog and giving them (and you!) some valuable playtime. Go for a walk and enjoy each other and find the little things to be grateful for. 

Getting in some playtime is especially important if you’re working from home. Regular breaks will help keep you healthy and focused and help fight anxiety. Your dog will be calmer because you are too. It’s a win-win. 



Not sure how to train at home? We’ve got you covered. 

Take a look at our training guides available here. Some of the best commands are the simplest ones though, we recommend practicing the following until you and your dog can execute them perfectly together. 

  1. Sit 
  2. Down 
  3. Come 

If you happen to be working from home during this time and need your dog out of your hair, perhaps consider our board & train program. You drop off your dog and we get training started while your dog stays with us. Then, we work with you and your dog together to further training so your furry friend’s newfound skills can continue to be used and expanded with you at home. 

In addition to getting in training time with your dog, we recommend taking this health crisis as a reminder to take care of you and your dog’s health by increasing your supplements to make sure you both are getting all of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. 



Not sure where to get safe supplements for your dog? We recommend Nupro supplements, available in our shop. While you’re there browse some of our items for awesome toys for your dog, like the Indestructibone, which is always popular among dogs and owners alike. There’s also great gear available for you to wear and more. 



This might be a stressful time for everyone, but there’s always a silver lining, we’re sure your dog views this time with you home as a great thing, and we hope that can help ease some of the stress. 

We have several items in our shop to help with training, and we’re always available to answer all of your training questions at

Stay safe and be healthy out there! 

Good Dog Training Doesn’t Just Happen

Luck. We all want to be lucky whenever possible, but we don’t recommend leaving your dog’s training to luck. When it comes to your relationship with your furry companion, there’s no replacement for good dog training, not even if you’re lucky.

We’ve all heard someone say how they were so lucky to have gotten such a good dog, how their dog listens and they didn’t even train them. Some dog parents think how in the world did that happen? And why couldn’t it have happened to them?


All dogs have the capacity to be good, obedient dogs. The fact that some are with little effort isn’t luck. It usually has to do with the breed, but more so, it has to do with training that took place without the owner realizing it was happening. 

There is no getting lucky, you can’t replace good dog training with hope and a prayer. When owners believe they didn’t train their dog and that they are just naturally well-behaved, usually they have been training their dog without realizing it. This leads to potentially stressful situations in the future as deliberate training with specific commands never took place so the owner actually has no idea what commands the dog follows or why. That makes it tough to replicate the command out of a specific context. 

Dogs are smart and they learn what we want them to do in certain situations. But if a dog always sits before being fed, they don’t actually know the sit command, they know to sit to be fed. Then later when the owner tells them to sit without food, the dog has no idea what they are talking about. 


There is no replacement for good dog training. We believe every dog and every owner deserves the benefits of great training. We use positive reinforcement for our training programs, which not only brings the benefits of obedience training, but it also makes training fun and deepens your relationship with your four-legged best friend. 

When you think about it though, we’re all pretty lucky because we have dogs in our lives to love us. Who else is going to be that excited when you walk into a room? Exactly. 


Treat yourself and your dog to one of our training programs to celebrate your companionship. 

Learn more about our programs here: 

There’s a reason why they call it puppy love.

Puppies are amazing. Cute, soft and full of silly antics, there are few people who don’t melt at the sight of a puppy, even the hardest of hearts can cave when a tiny warm tongue licks their cheek. 

However, puppies don’t stay sweet, cute, fluffy puppies for very long. Soon they are awkwardly bigger and unaware of their size and into E V E R Y T H I N G and likely chewing on whatever they can find, including your favorite pair of shoes. Housetraining can feel like a nightmare where your house smells like dog urine all the time. 


This rather quick transformation is often the culprit for why many dogs are rehomed. 

Don’t be a victim of puppy love, turn those early cuddle-filled days into a lifetime of beautiful companionship with the right training for you and your sweet pup.

Like any relationship, the one you have with your dog has a honeymoon period and then for it to remain fulfilling and healthy, it takes work and communication. The trouble is, dogs don’t speak human and well, we don’t exactly speak dog. That doesn’t mean we can’t understand each other though. It simply means we have to put a method of communication into place and that is done through positive, consistent training. 



The good news is puppies learn fast and love it! Training is playtime and what could be better than play for a young puppy?  Training your puppy early means less frustration for both of you and more fun. 

There are many options out there for training, ranging from stay and train programs to hands-on collaboration courses, to do-it-yourself guides. There are advantages to each, but in the end, you’ll have to take an active role in training. After all your puppy is your companion and loves you the most. 

We offer many training programs and firmly believe you never stop training. It’s better to think of training as a means of communication and play with your dog and you never want to stop doing either of those. 

Don’t let puppy love get the best of you and your new pup. Put the time and effort into a real, thriving relationship from the very beginning and invest in puppy training. 



Check out our Introductory and Puppy Programs here: 

Check out our Puppy Training Made Easy guide here: