Third Thursday's Training Tips & Tricks - Socializing Your Dog
Socializing your dog is an important part of training! Just like people, it's important for a dog to be able to "handle" different social situations and be comfortable around other people or animals. Ensuring they're socialized will make them much safer in day to day life. Every Furry Friend is unique, so they're each going to require different socialization training!
The basics, though, are all the same. Before introducing your pet to new people or animals, you want to make sure that your pet feels safe, comfortable, and positive at all times.
The 3 Key's to Pet Socialization
Make sure your pet feels safe. Be sure your pet has the ability to freely leave and return to the experience. If they're new to socializing, a great first step is to take them to the park and allow them to watch other dogs play, at a distance. This is observational learning and help's "break the ice" in the world of other animals! When you take the next step in introducing them to other animals, be on the lookout for them becoming overwhelmed. Every animal has a threshold and you want to take them home before they get overwhelmed. Be on the lookout for signs of discomfort like panting and licking of the lips.
They need to be comfortable. If your dog is sick or in pain, he is not comfortable enough to socialize. This will strain their patience and lead to unhealthy socialization. Illness, upset stomach, injured feet, arthritis, and fleas can all contribute to discomfort.
Socializing should be a positive experience. Using treats to ad your pet's socialization is a great tool! It helps make the experience very positive. However, the best tool is time and your dog's only curiosity! Let them decide when the experience should end. If you see them heading to their escape rout, the experience is no longer positive. So try again when they are more comfortable and relaxed.
Your dog takes almost all of it's cues from you. So remain calm and positive in all socialization exercises. And, most importantly, be patient and have realistic expectations.
Most dogs don’t love everything and everybody, and they shouldn’t have to. The goal should be that your dog can be comfortable enough to feel safe and handle experiences that will need to happen throughout their life, such as vet checkups and seeing other dogs while leashed on walks.
Puppies are the easiest to socialize! The first 3 months are crucial times for socializing. Introduce them to new sights, smells, people, and other animals as soon as you can. You can have them in puppy classes, take them to the park, involve your family and more! Just be sure you still keep an even pace and a positive attitude.
For "Aggressive" Dogs
The thing to remember about socializing your dog is that your dog must be comfortable, feel safe, and have a positive experience. This means if your dog is fearful or aggressive around other dogs you do not want to socialize him by enrolling him in a group training class or by forcing him to be around other dogs in any way.
Aggression or fear in a dog needs to be addressed before you try to socialize them. Private training lessons are available or start small by "social distancing" and going on frequent walks to get them exposed to the world more often.
It's important to remember that an aggressive dog has probably had a hard life before you rescued him! Use extra patience and care in the process.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you need anything or have any questions!