When we introduce a new dog into our household, we must help our dogs learn how to socialize and respond in a healthy and acceptable manner. Our dogs will be meeting all kinds of new people, animals, places and see things they might have never encountered in the past. These types of situations could be anything from dog obedience classes to a vet visit, to walks at the dog park. This is a good thing. When we make sure our dog is exposed to different situations and environments, it helps our dog to become more confident. It is not important at what age you adopt your dog, you can train them with socialization principles. It is a worthwhile investment as you’ll see your dog become more stable and happy.
Many people think that the way a dog responds to these situations is due directly to the owner’s training, or lack of training, of the dog. It’s true that a puppy will be better off if he receives good training early on but training doesn’t end at adulthood. You’ll have to remind your dog so as to reinforce social skills all through your dog’s life.
NOTE: If your dog is overly sensitive or has behavioural problems, don’t worry that your dog will be missing something if they are not provided with play opportunities with other dogs or people. Dog owners would love to see to it that their dogs have the greatest life possible but adult dogs can still lead a full life without dog parks or off-leash play.
Now for some quick tips to get you started with your dog’s socialization:
1. Start puppies at between around 3 and 12 weeks old. They will be more accepting of new things and less cautious and fearful.
2. Socializing an adult dog is very different than for a puppy. A dog between the ages of 1 and 3 years will not typically enjoy playing with unknown entities as much.
3. Continue to expose your dog to new stimuli during the first year and keep it going.
4. Be aware that it is not always true that a dog who acts aggressively toward other dogs is dominant. No need for punishment if the dog is just stressed.
5. Use positive reinforcement. Make your dog learn to expect a good time in other’s company.
6 Keep it short. Take your dog for a walk, letting him come together briefly with others every so often. Don’t let the dogs investigate each other for too long.
7. Distract your dog here and there with simple commands. Make sure to reward your dog.
8. Keep an eye on yours and other dog’s body language. If either dog seems aggressive, be calm. Interrupt the behaviour and immediately separate them.
Keep good control over your dog during an introduction. It’s important for their safety as well as your own. If you have more than one dog, make introductions one at a time.
Click here to read another puppy tip “Puppy Dog Training School – Sniffing Other Dogs”
See you next time