A Great Way To Socialize Your Dog

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Even big and small dogs can enjoy each other's company

My dog needs a boyfriend, or a girlfriend…I really don’t care!  NO I am not looking to breed her, I am looking for some quality social interaction for her.

She is a bundle of energy and the older I get the more often I reconsider my affinity for living with such difficult breeds and dogs!  NAH, I still love my difficult dogs, I just have to reconnect with the ways of  how to get them the resources they need and those I need to stay sane!

I recently moved from the warmth of GA to the cold of VA and in doing so I also left my friends and those I saw as family behind.  I had a prominent career training dogs, some exotics, and pet sitting.  My days were full of a plethora of other dogs, all shapes, sizes, ages and personalities, and most were at my disposal for dropping in for fun.  This gave me a unique ability to socialize my dogs with other dogs that I knew and could easily control!

I do not have this infrastructure in Virginia, yet!  As much as I try building my career in a tiny town (no Wal-mart for 30 miles!!) in winter it is difficult and my puppy is beginning to reach adulthood.  Pups under 6 months are much easier to socialize than those over 6 months, and she is going on 9 months now.  She is also a breed known for its propensity toward dog aggression, so the bricks are stacked against me!

I am forced to face life and training as a regular “non-dog trainer” person (the horror)!  So I brainstormed what to do:

I could take her to doggy day care, but I am not familiar with the ones in my area

I could try to find a dog park, but it’s cold and they have their draw backs too

Or, I could run a “personal” add on Craigslist

I did the latter.  “Gorgeous, 9 month old pup seeks friendship, play and relationship with a like minded, wild hearted dog of similar abilities!  Enjoys walks, hikes, geocaching and dips in the lake”

I have also found it difficult to find human conversations outside of my family here in Virginia, so the idea of finding a friend who is also a dog lover was very appealing to me.

I know what you are thinking…isn’t that dangerous?  I suppose it could be, but I don’t divulge my address or phone number until I have gotten to know the person.  I also made a female owners only stipulation so I am not meeting random men, with possible “other” intentions and I take my fiancée with me the first few times to make sure we are comfortable.  Be sure to always leave a note as to whom you are with and where you went not only as a safety feature for whom you are with but also because sometimes hikers get lost!  I also make sure to check vaccination history just like a boarding kennel would before any interaction takes place.

I control the environment by picking a walking spot and I make sure dogs meet on a leash and enjoy each other’s company before any play time takes place!  I only want my young dogs mingling with well behaved, social dogs!

Not all dogs like the company of other dogs, and many people misunderstand this!  If you have a dog that shows aggression, or severe anxiety chances are they do not desire the bond or relationship of other dogs!

But, some dogs love to interact with other dogs and can play successfully for hours together!  Dog on dog play can be some of the most physical exercise your dog can get!  I love an exhausted dog!  A tired dog is a good dog, and it requires little effort from me on days I am not feeling like taking her for a  run!

Safety first!  Know the risks and make sure you are as safe as possible, but if you want some interaction for you and your dog, run an add and see if there is someone else in your area who wants to form a friendship and get together with you and your dog!

I am grateful for the friendships I have made and my pup is enjoying playing with others!

 

There are 27 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Hello Minette. I have a question about dog socialization. My dog gets regular socialization with other dogs which I’m very glad for. He’s a young dog with a lot of energy so during these times of socialization he burns off a lot of energy which is great. Its the same group of dogs however that he socializes with. My question is should I be trying to socialize him with other dogs that he’s unfamiliar with? He gets along well with the dogs that he plays with and has been non aggressive with any new dogs he meets so far.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    It really depends on his age, young dogs and puppies are forming “opinions” about their world and they need socialization with lots of other “good” dogs so that they can generalize “all dogs are good” but once the dog is mature and likes other dogs this generalization has hopefully already formed and you don’t need to continue to socialize with unknown dogs.

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  2. Martha says:

    You mentioned that some dogs like the company of other dogs. We rescued our Chiahuahu/Terrier mix (18 lbs) when she was 22 months old. She exhibited intense fear aggression toward humans AND dogs. She’s over 3 years old now and has settled in with humans quite nicely, thanks to our loving home, regular relaxation massages and gradual exposure to dog-doting humans. I took her to a doggy day care in the beginning to try to socialize her and it didn’t go well. I think it was too stressful for her so I stopped. When we’ve taken her to the dog park and have boarded her two times at the same doggy day care place, she didn’t interact with the other dogs at all (I could watch her on the closed circuit TV from our vacation home’s computer). I feel sad that she’s an “only child” and doesn’t have fun around other pups. I’ve been wondering about trying her at the dog park again now that the weather is improving, but should I assume she’s one of those anti-social types and leave it at that? I don’t want to undo the balance she’s already achieved with humans by putting her in a situation that reactivates her fears.

    [Reply]

    Harley Harrington Reply:

    Hi Martha, Harley here,

    I have been training dogs for over forty years and I must tell you that it has been my experience that all dogs can change, as soon as their owners change. I want to point out a couple of things I noticed in your comment. The first thing I want to bring to your attention is how you speak about feeling sad about your dogs situation. While feeling sad for something or someone is a very compassionate and human thing to do, in the dog world if you try to approach a dog feeling sad about them they will only experience a negative energy, and see you as weak,and will not respect you as a leader and protector. You can not help your dog to move forward when they are being influenced by any human emotion,such as,anger,fear,and sadness.My suggestion would be to become educated on what it takes to be your dogs leader, when you learn to use calm and assertive energy, and understand your dog’s body language, you will be in better shape to help them move forward.

    One last piece of advice. As far as your dog being anti-social, it is my belief that there is no dog that don’t want to be with other dogs. Dogs are a pack animals,and are very social by nature, and thrive in the pack. The dog park however, is a very unstable and chaotic place. It is not a good idea to take an already unstable dog to the dog park. In most cases, instead of being a calm and social experience it is just the opposite. A bunch of unstable dogs running around doing what ever they want, and their owners are the ones doing the socializing, talking on the phone, chatting with other dog owner, and not paying attention to their dogs. Learn how to be the Leader, and when you can make your dog understand that even when surrounded with unstable and chaotic dogs, she must remain calm and submissive, then you can take her to the park. If you have any questions, or want more information, just click on my name and you will be taken to my Dog Training Tips Community. There you will find, pictures,videos,and valuable information about dog training and understanding their behavior. Get a free e-book about how to be the Alpha and Stop your Dogs Problem Behaviour

    I hope I have helped

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  3. Doreen Braverman says:

    My 2.5 yr. old Fox Terrier loves 2 big dogs in our family and socializes well with them but, recently, has started barking at other dogs when I am walking her. I think she is afraid of them or trying to protect me because the hair on the back of her neck stands straight up. Any suggestions?

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    paul Reply:

    Fox terriers do have a tendency to be willing to challenge and scrap with any dog any size that it is not familiar with. If you have the opportunity to greet another dog, pause for no more than about two seconds and move on before the curiosity ends and challenging begins.

    Having had two fox terriors growing up I can assure you that she is not afraid and she’s not protecting you. Part of the problem is some dogs just don’t socialize well when on leash so the best thing you can do is anticipate the behavior prior to the hair standing up on her back, and prior to before it escalates to the point of embarrassmnet, and redirect the dog in direction or attention or both.

    Your problem is also more complex than this one issue. You need to enhance your leadership skills and perhaps find a local trainer that makes housecalls.

    [Reply]

    Harley Harrington Reply:

    Hi Doreen, my name is Harley Harrington and I have been training dogs, for a long time. I would ask you a couple questions, first, Do you eat before your dogs eat? Do let them sleep on the bed with you? Do you think about them in terms of being human, for example do you talk to them a lot? If you answered Yes to any of these questions, it is quite likely your Fox Terrier sees herself as pack leader. If when walking her you let her walk in front of you at any time, see will see you as a follower,and feel like she has to protect you from the approaching dogs. I would recommend that you learn what it means to be the Alpha in your family. You see your dogs view your family as their pack, and there is a ranking according to status. If you need some help, the man that owns this site is very qualified. You can also visit my Dog Training Tips Community, you will find answers to your questions, plus a lot more. I hope I wasn’t to forward, best of luck

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    Doreen Braverman Reply:

    Harley, I am guilty of some of the questions that you asked me. I don’t eat before the dog eats and I take her for a walk right after she eats. She “heels” well but I do let her “break” because I want her to “go potty”. She usually walks beside me on the grass. She does sleep on my bed but I don’t think of her as a human. I try to use commands that are consistent with training her. Thanks for the advice. I have one more at-home training for her. Then I will attend training classes because I think she needs to socialize more.

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  4. christine says:

    I also have a specific question in reference to socializing our own 6 month old pup we found as a very sick and starving 9 week old on December 1st. I had just rescued and rehomed a beautiful young male border collie after figuring out I was not up to having two dogs since I already had a 3.5 year old pitbull/hound mix pound rescue with fear aggression issues (lessening with time and patience), certainly no role model. So during the new pup’s rehab weeks the 2 dogs were kept in different areas of the house and only met briefly with one or the other behind a fence or in a crate. When Cookie first saw herself in a mirror she went into a focused attack that in a pup so young was almost comical, except I understood the possible ramifications and instead I was mortified. however, after about six weeks and her completed set of vaccinations we were ready to meet and greet. her first response to meeting new dogs was a defensive attack, lucky she was still a baby! but I made sure the only dogs she met in the earliest days were very good, very tolerant dogs and when the response was mostly indifference she was at first surprised, then possible relieved to realize she was no longer forced to fight for her survival. And after numerous similar meetings, she’s as eager to meet any new dogs we might come across. She does seem to have enough canine intuition to understand when a dog isn’t interested or may be problematic however there is this one dog. A small pistol of a dog who Cookie runs after and menaces by biting at his heels and barking incessantly. Once he took after her, but it only seemed to exacerbate her annoying interest in aggravating him and while I’m attempting to intervene, the owner always says ‘they’ll work it out’; ‘you don’t trust her?’ ‘just let them deal with it themselves’ to which I respond that my preference is to teach her when she is behaving badly she is going to stop even if it means we leave the park. He and other owners think I’m acting like a hovering cheerleader mom and maybe it’s true. Everything I read tells me I’m doing the right thing, but all the other owners have dogs that are so much easier than mine so what’s my problem?

    [Reply]

    Harley Harrington Reply:

    Hi Christine, Harley here, let’s beging by taking a look at your dogs behaviour, when dog’s see themselves as the leader of the pack, then any behaviour outside of what they deem to be acceptable, is quickly brought under control, and they do this by chasing, biting of heels, and vocalizing their displeasure ie, barking whining, growling. Cookies issues began the moment she saw her reflection in the mirror, and began to assert her dominance to the sight of “that” dog. You were right to be concerned about the ramifications of what was to come. Cookie is ok around calm and submissive dogs because that’s what pack leaders like, calm and submissive,and they in no way represent what she saw in the mirror,,which was a dominant dog asserting dominance( so much so that she attacked it)..however when she is around dogs, like the “pistol” you described, Cookie sees this as a threat to her leadership, and is doing what dog’s do to maintain the right to lead, she is asserting her dominance through physical touching,(biting of heels) This kind of behaviour can get cookie hurt, by older and larger unstable dogs, who will also assert their dominance and right to lead, by attacking her,and perhaps even kill her. To solve your problem you must learn how to present yourself to Cookie and every dog you meet that you are the pack leader. No one gets to hand out any dicipline except you. When you assert your dominace in a calm but firm way, Cookie will begin to see that you are in charge and will protect her from any threat, even from her own reflection in the mirror. You see, unfortunate as it is..Cookie has not felt like you are the leader and she must protect herself, but don’t worry, you can change that. Right now Cookie does not trust you to protect her, and I don’t say this to be unkind, I believe in telling dog owner’s the truth, and provide help to become educated on what you can do to earn your dog’s trust and respect. I have a free e-book over in my dog training tips community, it is a valuable resource that explains what it means to be a pack leader and the steps you can take to take charge of your dog’s problem behaviour..I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about what makes your dog tick and how you can learn to communicate with Cookie in a way she can clearly understand. Just click on my name and you will be taken to my site, you can find the e-book easily. Take a look around while you are there. I have many tips and ideas that will help you in your learning experience. If I can ever be of help, you only need to ask.

    P.S. My advice to the owner of the “pistol” would be to tell him that it is never a good idea to let two dominant and unbalanced dog’s work “it out themselves”,this will always end badly.

    Thank-you

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  5. Gale says:

    I am the organizer of a weekly frolic… The local Cavalier King Charles Spaniels get together at a fenced in park every week for an off leash play date where the dogs get their “bare bum” time, and owners get to talk about problems, boasts and accomplishments, or things like the food recall.

    I instigated a monthly in home winter frolic. We take turns hosting it, and it has helped a lot of dogs learn manners at other people’s houses.

    The local owners love it. We used to meet every 2 weeks, but if it rained, the dogs wouldn’t meet for a month. Weekly is good because if you have a problem or commitment one week, you can go the next week, and the dogs won’t miss out on much.

    When we meet outside at the park, we bring some of our tunnels and jumps, and have the dogs go through and over.

    They love it so much that as we are driving there, when we get within a couple of blocks, the dogs get really excited and antsy to get there. There is a long path to the field, and most of us can just let go of the leashes and the dogs run into the park and stay there.

    [Reply]

    Gale Reply:

    I forgot to add that other dogs and breeds see the Cavaliers frolicing and they run up to introduce themselves. Really good experiences for all dogs.

    [Reply]

  6. That was definately a good read,however I must disagree with the statement that not all dogs like the company of other dogs. Dogs are pack animals, they thrive in groups,thus are very social by nature. If a dog has developed aggression or anxious behaviour, it is because their human owners did not understand how to help them,and they got “stuck” in a very unstable state of mind. Learn how to communicate with your dog in their language, and you will be surprised to find out what they are telling you,no matter how old the dog is.

    [Reply]

  7. Miriam says:

    Greetings,

    I have two dogs. One is a Boston Terrier two years old and the other is an Irish Jack Russell. I have socialized them by bringing them to the doggie park many times. The only problem is that my Boston Terrier sometimes gangs up on a particular dog when my Irish Jack is around the dogs. He does not bite but barks and gets too excited. My Irish Jack loves to bark at every dog and it is an embarrasment. If he is in the car and someone gets near the window, he barks and barks. Then my Boston Terrier will join in the barking. I am moving from a house to an apartment and I am afraid that the barking will disturb the neighbors. They will also bark at any sounds they hear outside or when they hear other dogs barking in the neighborhood. How do I get these dogs to stop barking? I own a shock collar but feel bad using it.

    Miriam

    [Reply]

    Frank David Reply:

    I dont belive in the notion of training dogs to read roads signs, and understand english completely but I believe Dogs and Cats can be trained to live harmoniously with humans.

    in your case, your Dogs can be socialized and make them behave. I don’t guarantee you success but it worth a try, I did and it works for me.

    1. Understand that a dog is a dog and will remain a dog, even the names we give them are mere sounds and if they could speak, they would not be able to tell their name as you know it.

    2. The dogs has animal need that must be met: feeding at specific times of the day and not irregular will help reduce the noise.

    3. Take the dog out for walks at specific times of the day: this serves two purposes: burns the excess energy and also trains them to wait and look forward for that time.

    4. During heat periods, when they become very restless, take them out for a lot of exercise. when you return home give them water then food.

    in a nutshell, the noise is because your dogs are holding too much pent-up energy inside making them restless. the more programed they are to exercise, the less the noise

    [Reply]

  8. Karleen says:

    I think running an ad for like-minded dog owners is a great way to make new friends for both you and your dog. Fortunately, I have a lot of friends whom I could call to walk dogs with, but if I were to move to an area where I didn’t know anyone, I think this would be a great idea! Thanks for the post!

    [Reply]

  9. Mike Stidham says:

    How do I get my pups to stop digging in the yard?

    [Reply]

    Trelle Reply:

    I am sure the owners of this site have plenty of info on digging, but things I tell my clients to consider is:
    1. 100% supervision
    You can’t expect the dogs not to dig if you are leaving them (espeically as untrained puppies) in the yard by themselves. Dogs will be dogs (as someone above mentioned) and dogs will bark, dig, pee on things, chew on things, etc because it is perfectly acceptable for a dog to do. It is up to us to teach them how to be a dog in a human’s life. As Dr. Ian Dunbar (www.dogstardaily.com) says,”If you want your dogs to follow the rules, stop keeping the rules a secret”.
    Make sure you give your dogs lots of information, “leave it” for off limit areas, and lots of hearty praise and food rewards to let them know when they are playing in a more appropriate area. You can also tie off Kongs and other toys to set up these appropriate areas.
    2. Consider chicken wiring off the “off limits” areas of your yard temporarily. Yes, yes, your zen garden will not be so “zen-like” for a while, but it is a great way to manage it until your dog learns appropriate behavior.
    3. Clearly section off a small section of your yard that your dog CAN dig. One of my dogs LOOOOVES to dig. When we are at the beach, he knows he can dig. We will even encourage it by putting it on cue “dig it”, and bury balls for him to dig up. Your dog will have fun helping you dig up this section of your yard (clearly demarkated with rail logs, etc). Then, when he isn’t looking, bury something VERY awesome and have him come over to inspect. Cool things to bury include stuffed Kongs, real bones from the butcher, and other toys your dogs love. They will probably start burying themselves soon. And, why go anywhere else? This is the spot where all the cool stuff is?
    Hope this helps, Mike.

    [Reply]

  10. Beth says:

    Another great way to find socializing events is to check Meetup.com – I live in the Cincinnati area, and there are FREE groups for small and larger dogs! Check it out – there are all kinds of dog-centered groups all over the country.

    [Reply]

  11. jean talcott says:

    I have a nine year old mixed terrier named Nellie. She is a very sweet dog and has gone to the dog park over the years. She seems to like almost all dogs. A few years ago some very large dogs got very rambunctious and rolled her in the dirt a few times. This apparently upset her quite a lot because now if any of the big dogs get to close and bothers her in any way she snaps at them and they don’t know what’s going on as they look at this dog that is half their size. I would like to see her be more sociable with the big dogs, but it’s as if she has a chip on her shoulder. Otherwise she is a very goodnatured dog who loves people and seems to like all other dogs that we encounter as we do our long walks. Any thought???? Jeanie T

    [Reply]

  12. Wynette says:

    Hello Minette (BTW, my nickname is Minette too, to avoid confusion I better use Wynette. LOL)

    I have 5 Labrador Retriever dogs at home. The male dogs smell the female’s vagina, but the female dogs also smell each other’s vagina. What does that mean… are the females going to be in heat soon? The female labs just missed their heat in March this year…. Or are they just trying to be friendly with each other?

    [Reply]

  13. Anthony says:

    I have a bloodhound and goes absolutely crazy at the sight of another dog, he just wants to play with them, but he is alot bigger than other dogs. I got him just over a year old, i really want to socialize him, which i have done with one other dog but it snapped at him, i am worried that he may bite back if another dog does it to him. He is not in any way aggresive, i just want to socialize him safely, Any thoughts??
    Anthony M

    [Reply]

    Trelle Reply:

    Anthony, socializing an older dog can be tricky. Not that your dog will be a problem, but having help from a professional who uses positive reinforcement only, is a great start. Go to:
    http://www.apdt.com
    and search for a trainer in your area. Chances are, they hold some sort of socialization class. You just want to be careful to set your dog up for success in the very beginning. I have helped socialize many dogs over the age of 6 months very successfully (I am a dog trainer), even ones with severe fear issues. They are now playing confidently and happily. The dog who snapped at your dog possibly didn’t mean anything. Allot of dogs have to set ground rules, and their rules can change as the members of the play groups change and the venue changes. It is very dynamic, never static. Other things to keep in mind is having your dog already well exercised, no food or toys int he beginning, etc. Give the above site a search. Having a professional help, even for one or two private lessons can give you allot to go on in reading body language in dogs, and how it can be very contextual…if that is a word! :) For example, people who don’t realize reading body language can be contextual may think, when they see my dogs playing, that they are being very aggressive…but, they know each other very well and play fight with each other…they too, can read body language very well and know not to take each other personal. Hope this helps, Anthony.

    [Reply]

  14. Bobby Aucoin says:

    I have A doberman 16 months old …I am having A problem with him meeting other dogs …There are no dog parks around and really all other dog owners are scared when they see my dog barking furiously at their dog …my brother was over with his poodle ..we let them mingle and after all the barking had ended , about 30 mins , they got along and could handle being around each other without being held back …I have talked to A friend that has A 2 year old rothweiller ..He has agreed to have our dogs meet but don’t know if we should have them restrained or just let go on neutral ground and hope for the best …I am reluctant to just let them go because I really love my dobe and wouldn’t want it to turn bad on me and have either of the dogs get hurt …When I walk my dog down the street and meet other dogs , he barks at them uncontrollably but doesn’t really show signs of agression , just seems like he’s trying to scare the other dog but as we approach , he shows no sign of wanting to bite or anything like that …Just wondering if anyone can shed some light on which way to approach this …I would like my dog eventually to be able to meet other dogs without barking and remaining calm …help please !!! Bobby

    [Reply]

  15. Patsy Abila says:

    I posted on my FB wall about the giveaway

    [Reply]

  16. Savanna Donlin says:

    Hi!

    I rescued a black lab/great dane (I think) puppy who is now 9 months old, his name is Bo Bradley. He had been going to off leash dog parks from the age of 2 months to 7 months. Up until 2 months ago we have moved twice to two different cities where he only went swimming or played with his roommate dogs. At 3 months he was run over by a car and had a fractured pelvis and had to be in his crate for 6 weeks with no play. After the accident he was a different dog but still listened to me and could play with other dogs off leash.

    He is incredibly energetic and if he is left alone or not had enough play he will let it out on my sisters house so I take him to the beach off leash (with no other dogs around) once a day to swim and run and a bike ride or walk at night. Up until recently he has been acting like a totally different dog. I took him to the dog park and he started attacking other dogs, like he is dominating them which he has never done, when my mom took him with out me he was perfectly fine. I took him to another dog park with his dog friend and there were atleast 15 dogs around and before we walked in (on leash) he went NUTS, I brought him inside the dog park (on leash) and acted the same way. He is a pretty large dog right now and is really strong and can be difficult for me at times. I don’t want to let him off leash anymore incase he tries to hurt another dog.

    He is pretty good on a leash, he gets pretty distracted but doesn’t pull too hard or anything. I take him on bike rides with me while he has a leash on and he doesn’t try to throw me off of a bike. He is also crate trained and loves to be in his crate. He is incredibly calm and relaxed in his crate.

    He just recently started peeing in the house again even though he knows to use a bell when he wants out. He also will NOT listen to me anymore, If I call his name he refuses to listen or even acknowledge that I am saying his name and just goes about whatever he is doing. I feel like he doesn’t like me anymore and wants nothing to do with me. I give him new toys and new bones all of the time and feed him really healthy food. I bring him with me almost every where I go. I try to make sure he is happy all of the time and since he loves playing with other dogs I try to get him to the dog park but he can’t even walk outside of it with out freaking other dog owners out.

    He also get into this mood once in a while and will start biting all of your body parts and the only way to get him to stop sometimes is to put him on his back and even then once you let go he will go for more!

    Is there any advice you can give me. I would never give him up for anything but I also will be living in a town where everyone has a dog and you need to have a dog who will be off leash and get along with others. I am desperate, anything will help! Thank you so much!

    Savanna and Bo Bradley

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Is he neutered? If he isn’t he needs to be.

    He is hitting sexual maturity and things change at this age, they go through a stage and stop listening and start challenging and stop wanting to socialize with other dogs.

    If he is intact this will be much worse. However even neutered dogs still go through hormonal and sexual changes and get mature.

    I would go to your vet and see how much pain he is in.

    I would NEVER make a dog with a fractured pelvis run next to a bike. Swim yes, run at the beach on his own terms yes, but not structured running.

    AND playing with other dogs jumping on him could seriously HURT.

    Could you imagine having a fractured pelvis or a broken bone, and even if it was healed mostly having someone tackle you to the ground and stomp on you?

    Dog parks are full of rough play and he may not be able to be a part of that anymore and he may not be able to be off leash.

    Not all dogs can be safe off leash, and if they might attack other dogs its not worth the risk.

    Imagine of someone who knew their dog could be dog aggressive let their dog off leash and it attacked you or your dog. You’d be furious.

    Instead you might have to keep him on a leash and teach him coping mechanisms like eye contact and focus etc.

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/feel-pain/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/eye-contact-focus-behavior-broken/

    [Reply]

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