Socializing your pet is super important, even if you don’t have another pet. You will run into animals on walks, at the park, or just going to the vet or groomer. It is important that your dog be socialized so they are not stressed out when they do encounter other animals. Another socialization consideration should be people as well. Your dog might be used to your family, but hopefully will be calm and happy around other people as well. A great time to socialize your dog is as a puppy, since this is when dogs learn the most, but if you have an older dog you’ve adopted that needs to be socialized, it is perfectly okay to do so. Here are a few tips on how to socialize your furry pal.
Socializing Tip No.1: Handle with Care
Love on your puppy! This is super hard right? All you want to do is cuddle and squish their little faces! Well, not squish, but pet constantly. This is actually very important, not just to quench your puppy-loving urges, but for your puppy to learn that this kind of attention is okay and welcome.
Keep introducing your pups to new people as well! This will help them learn that new people are not scary, but can be embraced into the pack. Keeping your calm when interacting with newcomers is key; if you’re comfortable with new people, your dog won’t feel uncomfortable either.
Socializing Tip No. 2: See Other Dogs
In order to get your puppy or dog acclimated to other animals, go observe the dogs first. You could go to a dog park, but stay outside the fence. Your dog can watch how the other animals interact with one another before getting in on the action.
If your dog displays unwanted behaviors while watching the other dogs, try not to overreact. Your calm demeanor helps them to stay calm. When they exhibit good behaviors, such as not tugging on their leash and sitting where you tell them, encourage that with a treat.
Socializing Tip No. 3: Go Back to School
There are many different kinds of dog training courses. These range from programs that allow you to drop your dog off for a week while they go through a kind of training boot camp to courses you take your pup to weekly that you also attend, giving you the skills you need to train your dog.
If socialization is your focus, ask your vet what training courses they would recommend to best suit that need. If you want to keep your dog’s social skills in tune, remember that you’ll have to walk them, take them to dog parks, or even board them for the day so they can spend time with other dogs.
Socializing Tip No. 4: You CAN Teach an Old Dogs New Tricks!
Walking your dog daily is good for their health, but it can also help them be socialized, especially if you are trying to socialize an older dog. Dogs love the exercise and walking through your neighborhood gives them a chance to see other dogs. Since they are getting the exercise, they won’t necessarily have excess energy to get extra excited when meeting a new dog.
The key is to go slow. Once a week with an older dog, expose them to a new activity. If your dog is skittish, growls, or barks, consider using a muzzle. The old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”-- not true. It just takes some time and patience.
Want to know more about how you can help your dog to be calm and comfortable in social situations? Call the veterinarians at Academy Animal Hospital for more information today!