When most people think about dogs, they envision a happy companion who is friendly and welcoming to all. As pet parents, it is important to know that proper socialization is the key to helping your dog be the best little canine citizen possible. The socialization process can begin for dogs as early as eight weeks old and should continue throughout their lifetime.
Ease Anxiety – Dogs who are not socialized well can develop a fear of new situations, circumstances, and people. This can make it difficult to have people over, take trips to the vet, and visit dog-friendly places.
Promote Good Health – Dogs who interact and exercise with other dogs tend to lead healthier lives. With proper socialization, potential stress can be decreased and the increased activity will help burn off those extra calories. In aging dogs, regular exercise with other furry friends can keep the “pep in their step.”
Develop Confidence – Socialization teaches your dog new, good behaviors to help them become a well-rounded furry friend. With positive reinforcement during socializing interactions, your dog can gain confidence. This can be beneficial when on an outing or when visitors come over.
Keeps Them Happy – You probably wouldn’t be very happy if you were secluded and never got the opportunity to see other people. Often times, your dog feels the same way! Allowing them to play, exercise, and make friends keeps your pup happy and tires them out.
Socialization does not just involve meeting and interacting with other dogs. Any act where you expose your pet to new environments, people, dogs, and other stimuli is considered part of the socialization process. However, overwhelming your dog with a ton of new experiences can result in over-stimulation, which could make them withdrawn and fearful. It is important to find a proper balance and know when enough is enough for your pet. Socializing Includes:
Handling Your Puppy – Handling your dog from an early age can help in a variety of situations, such as going to the groomer or clipping their nails at home. Teaching them to accept being touched in all the different areas of their body. If you expect your dog to be around kids often, desensitizing them to being touched can avoid them getting scared.
Exposing Them to New Situations – In as controlled of an environment as possible, introduce your dog to new situations, places, people, and pets. For example, visiting a park early in the morning can eliminate the distraction of a ton of activity, since a few other people are likely to be there at that time. When introducing your dog to other canines, choose a neutral environment so nobody feels the need to get territorial. When exposing your dog to new environments, make sure your attention is on them and reward them for good behavior to create positive associations.
Be Mindful of the Environment – As mentioned, an overwhelming environment can have negative side effects for your furry friend. When introducing them to new places, be mindful of the activity in the area. Fairs and dog parks may sound enjoyable to you, but they can be too much for your pup. Get your dog used to the leash and less intense stimuli before taking them someplace busy. Though you may love bringing your pet wherever you can with you, accept the fact that some places may not be best for them.
Encouraging Exploration – Allow your dog to explore a bit, but keep close supervision to ensure they are safe. By sniffing out and navigating their environment, they become more comfortable with their surroundings, in turn making them more relaxed.
Investing in a Professional Resource – Sometimes the best way to help socialize your dog is by investing in training programs and doggy daycare. In both cases, trained professionals are leading and supervising, able to teach or correct any negative behaviors. Your dog will be able to learn the correct socialization skills under watchful and experienced eyes. In training programs, in particular, you can also learn skills to help keep your dog comfortable in different situations.
Looking for training or doggy daycare services in the Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem, PA areas? Choose Leader of the Pack Canine Institute for dog training and daycare options that help to improve or maintain your pet’s socialization skills. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today.