A socialized dog is more confident, able to get on well with other people and animals, and is generally a happy dog. It’s important to socialize your furry friends so that they live enriched, fulfilling lives. When your dog is well-socialized, he’ll be able to take things in its stride and react well to new situations. Socialized dogs also sleep better, are more content at home, and can even live longer. So, how do you socialize a dog? Here are 7 ways.
Socializing a New Puppy
Socializing your new puppy helps it develop good behaviors. Here’s how you can get started:
- Start Young: It’s easier to socialize dogs when they’re younger, as that’s when they’re more open to new experiences and information. The optimal age for socializing your puppy is when it is between 3 to 16 weeks in age.
- Get Them Used to New Experiences: These include new smells, sights, textures, and sounds. You want to create positive associations with new experiences for your pup. Let them be acclimatized to loud noises (within reason), such as hairdryers, car horns, and birds. Take them for walks on new surfaces and smells (although it’s best to avoid walking your pup outside until they’ve been vaccinated). Take them on short car rides so they can get used to the motion and see the world through the window.
- Introduce Your Puppy to New Friends: Slowly let your pup meet new people. Start off with individual friends and move to larger groups once you feel that your puppy is comfortable. It’s best if you can start with people that will be around your puppy frequently, such as family members or close friends.
- Reward Your Puppy: As your puppy explores the world, encourage them with praise and treats so that they associate these new experiences with positivity.
- Gradually Visit Larger Places: Once your pup is comfortable with their regular surroundings and smaller groups of friends, you can start exposing them to new environments, such as dog parks.
Socializing Adult Dogs
If you’ve adopted an older dog that is anxious around people and other dogs, there’s a high chance that it didn’t get a chance to be socialized as a puppy. While socializing older dogs can take some patience, it’s necessary for your dog’s wellbeing, and is a rewarding bonding experience for you both.
- Schedule Playdates: Invite friends or family members with dogs to your home so that your dog can interact with them in a familiar and safe environment. Once they’re comfortable with each other, you can schedule regular walks and playdates.
- Meet Others: Meeting friendly people and dogs on your daily walks also goes a long way in helping your dog get comfortable. In that same vein, taking your dog to dog parks is also a good way for them to have social interaction.
- Positive Reinforcement: As with puppies, rewarding your dog with treats, praise, and love when they encounter new experiences goes a long way in getting them comfortable with the world around them.