One of the top questions we often get asked is How Do I Socialize My Dog?
Before we begin to explain just HOW to socialize your dog, it’s probably best to start with the why. Dog’s, like many of us, are creatures of our upbringing. By socializing your dog you’re allowing it to learn to behave properly and adapt comfortably to any situation. For example, a dog that isn’t socialized young, when it is a puppy, is often not as good or comfortable around any kind of anomalies (other dogs, humans, chaotic environments, etc.). It is through proper socialization, particularly as a young pup – that a dog develops the skills and comfort needed to be relaxed in many different environments.
How Do I Socialize My Dog?
The Following is a List of 10 of the Best Ways to Socialize Your Dog:
- Puppy Playdates: Socializing puppies with other dogs is crucial for their development. Organize playdates with other puppies or friendly adult dogs to help them learn social cues and behavior.
- Dog Parks: Visit dog parks regularly to give your dog the opportunity to socialize with other dogs in a controlled environment.
- Group Dog Training Classes: Group training classes not only help dogs learn obedience but also allow them to interact with other dogs and people.
- Doggy Daycare: Daycare facilities offer a great opportunity for dogs to play and socialize with other dogs under supervision.
- Walks: Regular walks are a great way to socialize your dog with different people, sights, sounds, and smells. It’s also a great way to expose them to new environments and experiences.
- Pet Stores: Taking your dog to pet stores can expose them to other dogs, people, and animals, and can help desensitize them to new environments.
- Car Rides: Take your dog on car rides to new places like parks, hiking trails, or even to visit friends and family. This will expose them to new experiences and people.
- Dog-Friendly Events: Attend dog-friendly events like fairs, festivals, or charity walks to socialize your dog with different people, animals, and environments.
- Grooming Sessions: Regular grooming sessions can expose your dog to new people, scents, and sensations. This can help reduce fear and anxiety around strangers.
- Visits to Friends and Family: Taking your dog to visit friends and family can help socialize them with different people and environments. This will also help them learn to behave politely around guests.
How To Socialize Your Dog – Additional Things to Consider
How Do I Socialize My Dog? – Start Young
In addition to SIMPLY making sure you’re taking your dog through novel experiences, there are a few additional items to consider. First, it’s important to understand that socialization EARLY is very important. The younger you can begin socializing your dog through activities like those posted above, the more likely and more easily those experiences will anchor in your dogs mind and be reflected in proper behavior.
How Do I Socialize My Dog? – Start Slow, Make Them Comfortable
Start slowly, and simply walk the dog around the park. Get them used to the smells and the sights and the other dogs being in the vicinity. You don’t have to rush your puppy into the park with other dogs day one. You want them to be calm and comfortable. Then, as they begin to acclimate to the particular scenario, then begin introducing them into more chaotic environments. For example, at my local dog park, I made sure my dog had gone around the outer park a number of times through leash walking, and then once a little tired, but completely calm and relaxed, would guide him into the actual dog park areas. Another thing to note is I would physically make sure my dog always obeyed me BEFORE entering the park – I would enter first, command him to sit, and only after he sat comfortably and calmly, would I allow him in – this communicates two things – first that’s the kind of calm submissive behavior expected of him in this area and 2nd – since I’m entering first and ALLOWING him in – it communicates I own this space.
How Do I Socialize My Dog? – Use Tools to Manage Behavior
While in a more chaotic environment, considering having tools on hand to correct and form positive behavior traits. For example consider having a small bag of snacks to continue to have your dogs attention, or, in the case of a dog park, consider getting a shock collar to make sure that if a scenario breaks out for which you’d like to correct your dogs behavior, you can do so quickly and immediately even when you’re not physically close to your dog. Most shock collars are completely harmless (often only letting out a sound close to their ears to distract their attention) which is all that’s required to adjust behavior quickly.
If you keep all of the above scenarios in mind, along with the bigger picture, you and your dog will have a wonderful time growing and learning to become more social.