You might be putting in your best efforts to take care of your new companion: Feeding the appropriate foods, housetraining, going over your budget to getting all the right equipment for the comfort of your dog. Yet, there might be one thing that you have inadvertently overlooked: socializing your dog.
Socialization is the process of familiarizing your dog with varying situations he’s likely to experience. It is an essential part of the emotional well-being of a dog. Gradual exposure to people, dogs, places, and situations a dog is likely to encounter, acclimatizes it to deal with such novel experiences calmly. Thorough socialization helps to create a confident and well-rounded companion. On the other hand, paying no attention to socialization can create an anxious dog who has separation anxiety and indulges in destructive behavior. You might end up needing a high anxiety dog crate if things go that route. But we are going to ensure things do not go that direction by socializing our dog appropriately.
But socializing your dog doesn’t require you to cram his days and nights with social opportunities and experiences. Here are six simple ways to help your dog become a happy, well-adjusted pet. Ideally, socialization should start when your dog is a puppy. But it’s never too late to start.
Tip 1: Safety first
If your dog is a puppy, make sure that the other dogs he encounters are as nice as he is. Taking your pup to a well-run puppy playgroup filled with pups of a similar age and size is a fantastic and safe way to begin the socialization process. Neighborhood dog parks aren’t the same thing as a play group and should be avoided until your pup is older. Introducing him to adult dogs who are aggressive towards him will negatively impact the socialization process.
Tip: 2 Let your puppy take the lead
It is recommended that you let your puppy set the pace during doggie meet-and-greets; if you do otherwise, you might set him up for a bad or even traumatic experience. Don’t force your pup to make contact with a person or dog if he looks nervous and don’t be pushed by someone who insists ‘it’s OK, all dogs love me!’ Instead, let your dog decide if he is comfortable with making friends with a new dog.
Tip 3: Vary your pup’s experiences.
Meeting other dogs is a crucial part of the socialization process, but don’t forget about sounds, smells and textures. Socialization of your dog is simply not an endless supply of dogs to become friends with. For example, if your floors are carpeted, try bringing your puppy to a location that has slick floors, and help him get comfortable with them. If your house lacks stairs, bring your little darling to a home that has some, and help him learn to use them. Let him hear the sound of a baby crying, children squealing, and car horns blaring. All these experiences will help your puppy learn that the world is an exciting place and to become comfortable with these experiences.
Tip 4: Enjoy yourselves
There’s no need to be compulsive about socialization: just do as much as you reasonably can to provide your puppy with engaging new experiences – not only during puppyhood but throughout his entire lifetime. Socialization is a muscle that needs to be flexed throughout your dog’s whole life. If you simply involve your dog in whatever activities you are doing, it helps with their socialization.
Tip 5: Sometimes less is more
Even with socialization, there can be too much of a good thing. There is no need for rigid socialization program where you plan too much and force your dog. If your pup is overtired and punchy, it’s best to call it a day instead of forcing him to go through mandatory socialization requirements for the day.
Tip 6: Let the professionals handle it
Although you should be involved in the majority of the socialization process, many dog owners do not have the luxury of time. If you are not able to find time for it or having difficulty socializing your dog, you can let the professionals take care of your dog’s socializing needs. Your dog would be in great hands at a puppy training school where a structured program for dog socialization helps him/her make rapid progress.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the importance of socialization for a happy and well-adjusted pet. If you could put in just a little bit of extra effort towards it, you could have a dog that is capable of handling various situations, dogs, and people gracefully.
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