The Importance of Socializing Your Dog
Posted on Feb 28, 2014 , 0 comments
Our pups are our family. Being able to take your dog with you on errands, trips, or just on walks in the park is one of the joys of dog ownership. However, for dogs that have not been properly socialized, these outings can be stressful for both dog and owner. For that reason, it is very important for owners to socialize pups with new environments, dogs, and people.
The goal of socialization is essentially desensitization: the dog becomes accustomed to new sights and sounds. A well-socialized dog can be brought to new places and meet new people and dogs readily and eagerly. In contrast, a poorly socialized dog is anxious and scared in new circumstances. When a pup is anxious in an uncommon environment, it can result in fear-based aggressive behavior, including snarling and biting. Socialization reduces the risk of your pup becoming aggressive or fearful in novel circumstances.
Teaching your dog obedience commands or, enrolling both of you in an obedience class, is the first step in socialization. Through these lessons, you will create a lasting bond between yourself and your dog. Your dog will learn to trust and listen to you as he is being socialized in different environments. The next step of the socialization process is to take your pup with you wherever you go; to the extent possible. Bring healthy treats and reward him when he curiously sniffs around new environments. Allow non-threatening strangers to approach and pet him. When he acts calmly, reward him. Ignore any negative behavior (i.e., barking) and reward him only when he has calmed down. The success of your socialization will depend on how many places you bring your dog. The more places you take your dog, while incorporating these training cues, the better socialized he will become.
Socialization with other dogs is also important. This type of socialization will teach him how to behave around other dogs, which in turn will decrease chances of dogfights caused by his fear or anxiety. A great benefit of obedience classes is that you can socialize your pup with new dogs in a safe and controlled environment. Having doggie play dates with friends whose dogs are well behaved is also a good way to socialize your dog.
Finally, socialize your pup with people. Have as many trusted friends, family members, and non-threatening strangers pet or handle your dog. Try to socialize your dog with as many different types of people as possible, including men, women, children, and adults. If your dog is shy, give the person a treat to give to your dog, and reward your dog when he approaches. In addition, it’s great to socialize your pup with friendly strangers who want to meet him.
Socialization is a long-term goal. Everyday is a new opportunity to teach or reinforce your dog’s socialization skills.