We live in a world filled with people and pets, and as such, it’s important for your dog to be able to interact with strangers. Dogs that are properly socialized tend to be happier, calmer, experience less anxiety and are able to handle fear and stress better.
While you can socialize a dog at any age, the ideal age is between two and six-months-old. No matter your pup’s age, don’t fret! Below you will find some basic tips to help you get started and learn what can happen if you choose not to get your dog accustomed to others.
Start Interactions Off Slowly
Social training should be done gradually. Start by walking your dog on his leash and letting him interact with other dogs along the route. Make sure to bring along a small bag of treats to help correct any negative behaviors and praise and reinforce positive ones.
Doggy playdates are another way to introduce your pup to new canine friends. Invite a friend with a dog to go on a walk with you. Leave a few feet of space between them to start to allow them to get acquainted. Let the dogs sniff each other and see how your dog reacts. If all is going well, end at home and let the dogs off the leash in the yard. Pay close attention just in case things go south.
As your dog gets more used to other dogs, and your pup has been vaccinated, it might be time for even more stimulation – like a dog park. Keep your dog on a leash initially to gauge how your dog reacts to having so many dogs and people around. Walk him around the park to get him comfortable. If his behavior seems mild, let him off the leash to run around.
Preparing for New Sights & Sounds
Socialization is about more than just getting your dog used to other animals, it’s also about getting him comfortable around new people and places, too. You want to get your dog used to being around people of all ages – from toddlers who may pull at his tail to your grandparents who may not appreciate getting jumped on. Exposing your dog to people of all shapes and sizes gives your dog a better understanding of when not to jump, lick or bark at strangers.
You may also want to consider his behavior in small groups or crowds – if your pup gets overstimulated easily, he may not be the pup you want to bring to a street fair or have at a party. Take your dog around your neighborhood, around the city, in high traffic and low traffic areas, playgrounds, and local parks to ensure your dog can handle various types of environments.
The dangers of not socializing your dog are plentiful. Dogs that weren’t properly socialized can be:
– Hard to handle
– Noise sensitive
– Nervous or inappropriate around people
– Unable to interact successfully with other dogs
Just like training your pup when you first get him can try your patience, the long-term rewards for both you and your dog when it comes to socializing are well worth it.
Think about the benefits of having a well-behaved dog that won’t jump on your friends and family the moment they enter the house, that doesn’t bark at your neighbor’s dog when you walk out your front door, and that you don’t have to worry about getting too rough at the dog park. Getting your dog comfortable with others can make a huge impact on your overall long-term relationship, so why not give it a shot?
Posted on August 26, 2019