7 Tips for Dog Socialization
Is your dog shy or afraid of strangers? Do they get easily intimidated or even fearful and aggressive around other dogs? If any of this sounds like your situation, then you may need to work on socializing your pet. Dog socialization is a very important skill for your pet to learn.
“With patience and diligence, most owners can play a big part in acclimating their dog to people,” says Heart + Paw’s Found and Chief Veterinary Officer, George Melillo.
Best Tips to Keep in Mind for Dog Socialization
While it is best to socialize your dog while they’re still a puppy, this isn’t always possible. If your dog is older and still needs to work on their social skills with both humans and other dogs, read through the information in the article below to help you get started.
Below are 7 tips that can help with dog socialization:
First of all, make sure you stay calm yourself. If you are nervous around strangers or don’t trust your dog around other dogs, then your dog will pick up on those cues quickly. They may become more distrustful themselves simply because you seem to be afraid.
By keeping yourself calm, you’re giving yourself and your dog both a good chance at a positive interaction. Your dog will mimic your mood in their own interactions with others and will soon learn that it is okay to approach strangers in a friendly way.
Go for Walks
Taking your dog for walks is an excellent way for them to meet, interact with, and see others. They will encounter other humans as well as dogs on their walks, and they will also be exposed to noises from automobiles and events around your neighborhood. This is a great way to socialize your dog with children, too, especially if you don’t have any kids of your own.
Since walks are important for your dog’s physical health as well as their socialization, it’s important to try taking them on a walk at least once every day. Adult dogs can walk up to two hours a day with no trouble, unless you are told otherwise by your veterinarian.
Introduce People You Know
Another tip for dog socialization is to start slowly with people you already know. Take your dog to a neutral place, such as a park or the sidewalk, to meet your friends and extended family members. From there, you may want to practice inviting these people into your own home so your dog can see them on their own turf, too.
After that, you can work on meeting people you don’t know. Whether you are introducing your dog to strangers or friends, stay calm and talk to them in a normal tone—not coddling, but not fearful, either.
Keep plenty of treats with you at all times when you’re out with your dog. This way, you can reward them for every small positive interaction they experience with humans or other dogs. If they sit politely while someone walks past them on the sidewalk, for example, this is a great time to reward them with a treat so they know they’re on the right track.
If you feel comfortable doing so, you can ask strangers who appear friendly toward dogs to hand them a treat as well. Plenty of people are happy to do this, and a positive interaction with a treat reward can help your dog feel more comfortable, too.
Visit Dog Parks and Pet Stores
Going to the dog park is an excellent way for your dog to interact with other dogs. They will learn how to socialize and read the body language of other dogs quickly when they spend time at a dog park, and they will also learn how to interact with the humans at the park, too.
The same is true of pet stores. Taking your dog in a pet store can introduce them to people, dogs, and other animals too, and it can also help desensitize them to sounds around the store as well.
Heart + Paw Chief Veterinary Officer, George Melillo, reminds people that, “it’s always important to be sure your dog is fully vaccinated before bringing them to parks and stores.”
Enroll Your Dog in Daycare
In addition to visiting dog parks and pet stores, enrolling in dog daycare is another great way to help with dog socialization. At daycare, not only will they get used to simply being around other dogs, but they’ll also learn how to play with other pets, too.
Daycare provides the opportunities for your dog to get used to being around other pets and offers a way for them to get rid of some of their energy while you’re away during the day.
Teach a Command
Finally, to help with dog socialization, try teaching your dog a command they can perform easily when they’re feeling nervous. Many pet owners opt for “sit” in this instance, but you can go a step further and teach your dog “look at me” or “touch” when they’re sitting, too. This way, they will have a command they can perform almost like second nature, and it will be a confidence booster for them as well.
Teaching your dog to sit when they greet new people is a good habit, and it can make strangers less intimidated by them as well.
Enroll in Dog Daycare at Heart + Paw to Help with Dog Socialization
By following these tips, you can work on socializing an older dog or even one who is very set in their ways when it comes to interactions with others. Although some dogs may never be fully comfortable around strange humans or other dogs, they can learn how to behave themselves properly in social situations, too.
If all else fails, or if you have trouble working with your dog on your own, consider a trainer instead. A professional trainer can help you teach your dog everything they need to know about spending time with others.
At Heart + Paw, we offer dog daycare services at some of our locations that can help your pet further improve their dog socialization skills. While you should think about implementing the other tips mentioned in this article, you should keep in mind all of the benefits daycare offers for your pet and for you. Book your pet’s daycare visit online now, or call any of our daycare centers to find out more about what Heart + Paw can do for your pet.
Dr. Aty Puentes joined the Heart + Paw team in fall 2022. Throughout her 20 years of…
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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.
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