A happy dog is a well-socialized dog. The ability to take your dog to a public place without fear or anxiety should always be your goal. However, this is true for both dog and owner. Socializing your dog means you’ll both need to train how to interact properly. Here are good tips on how to accomplish the task.
Socialization in the canine world starts at birth. Mothers teach their puppies early on what is and is not acceptable behavior – as do their litter mates. Socialization problems often begin after the dog is separated from the mother and the litter and later isolated by a well-intentioned owner.
If you want a well-socialized dog, it’s best to start early on and keep the flow going right from birth. Waiting until a dog is two or three years old (or older) to teach it how to behave properly in only complicates the task.
Frequent, Safe Exposure
The best tip for socializing your furry companion is the expose the animal to other dogs and people as much as possible and as often as possible. Using common sense and safety zones in the early stages of training are always advisable.
In the beginning, expose your dog to controlled, family situations outside the home with other people and animals known to be friendly and well-behaved. This will help instill the right behavior in your pup from the start. After you feel comfortable in a number of controlled social settings, progress to other public environments for more interaction.
Seek out a dog park with a good reputation. Ask friends, family and co-workers for personal recommendations on parks they have visited. Then scope out the parks without your dog for the first visit. Look at the condition of the park and watch the interaction between the dogs and the owners. If frequent scuffles break out, move on to the next park until you find one suitable to introduce your dog to the rest of the world.
Address Problems, But Keep Your Cool
A good rule for public appearances is to start with a vigorous walk without interaction – even at a dog park. Chances are your pup will be excited about the outing and this will give them an outlet to work off a little bit of energy or anxiety before the have full-on play time with others.
Most important, whenever you’re out with your pet, always be the pack leader – let the dog and the other dogs around you know what’s acceptable and what’s not. If there are signs of aggression brewing, a stern “no” is in order.
Just as important, however, is to keep your cool and not let your anxiety, fear or anger infect your dog or the others around. Correction without emotion is key. Be vigilant, yet patient with your corrections and you’ll reap the rewards of being able to watch your beloved animal interact and have fun with others.
However, if any environment starts to turn potentially volatile, it’s always a good idea to quickly and quietly remove your dog from the situation. Common sense and safety should rule each interaction.
Follow these tips and you should be well on your way to a happy, well-socialized dog and you will be able to take just about anywhere to enjoy quality time together.