How to Socialize a Dog
Whether your new furry friend is a two-month-old pup or a fully-grown dog you recently rescued, socializing your pooch is crucial. They say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While it may be easier to socialize a puppy when it is four months old or younger, you can socialize a dog of any age. Follow the tips in this article to learn how to socialize a dog efficiently.
Socializing a dog can be a tedious and lengthy process, but it can also be an incredible bonding time with your pup. With these tips, you and your dog can enjoy the socialization process as your pet gets accustomed to unfamiliar places, other dogs, and new people!
What Is Dog Socialization?
Dog socialization is when you prepare your pet for positive encounters with different environments, activities, people, and animals. It typically revolves around gradually exposing the animal to new situations so that it can become desensitized. The specific approach might depend on your dog’s age, behavior, and breed.
Why Socialize Your Dog?
Socialization is an essential part of a dog’s relaxed life. A canine that has been socialized is generally better at handling stress, more approachable, and happier.
What Could Happen If You Don’t Socialize Your Dog?
When a dog is not socialized, it can become anxious, shy, and even aggressive due to fear. It won’t have the necessary social skills to deal with new people, animals, places, and situations.
When Should You Start Socializing Your Dog?
The socialization process should start as soon as you get your dog. The short answer to when you should start socializing your dog is: as soon as possible.
The most impressionable period for puppies is between their 4th and 5th months. You can begin socializing your dog by showing affection and establishing trust. Regular exercise, feeding, and playtime will show your dog that you are looking out for its best interests.
Are Some Dog Breeds More Sociable?
Even when coming from the same breed, dogs, just like humans, have unique personalities that can vary significantly. Due to the genetics and upbringing of dog breeds, some can be friendlier than others.
Sociable Dog Breeds
Suppose you’re looking for dogs that are easier to socialize with. In that case, the friendliest ones include:
- Boston Terrier
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Border Collie
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Irish Setter
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Less Sociable Dog Breeds
Some breeds might need more patience and time to socialize and train. These include the:
- Siberian Husky
- Chinese Shar-Pei
- Basset Hound
- Afghan Hound
- Chow Chow
- Fox Terrier
How to Socialize Your Dog
Socializing a dog doesn’t happen overnight, and you will need to have patience and allow time for the process. Show affection to your dog, but stay firm when giving instructions. The following are tips that can help with the socialization process.
Reward Positive Social Behavior with Treats
A rewards system is one of the most common methods for dog training. It has even been proven to work on non-domesticated animals! That’s because the idea is so simple.
Try to keep some small treats in a pouch whenever you introduce your dog to a new situation. Reward your dog when it exhibits the proper behavior while exploring a new place, meeting a new person, or playing with another dog.
Go On Daily Walks
Daily walks are not only healthy for you and your dog but also helpful in the socialization process. When you go on daily walks with your pet, it gets to experience new smells, sights, people, and animals while keeping a safe distance. Just remember to leash your pooch!
Dog Park Visits
There are parks made especially for dog socialization, and taking your furry friend there can be both exciting and fun. Initially, you can just let your dog watch others interact at a safe distance. As it gets more accustomed, you can allow it to interact slowly.
Take a Class
Classes for dog socialization and training are led by professionals that will supervise and help socialize your dog. These classes also have a controlled environment to reduce the stress experienced by dogs as they get socialized.
Go to a Pet Store
Going to a pet store is another way you can help your dog ease into socialization. It gets to meet other people and dogs while the environment is supervised by trained and certified personnel.
Join a Rescue/Breed Organization
Owners of certain breeds typically form groups to help one another take care of their pets and get them through socialization. There are plenty of official breed-specific organizations that can help you navigate the particulars of your dog’s breed.
There are also unofficial breed groups that discuss dog care on websites like Facebook. This is also a great place to find rescue groups.
Can CBD Help with Dog Socialization?
CBD has helped countless dog owners socialize their pooches. It calms the mind and eases nervousness, which is the number one obstacle dogs in socialization training need to overcome. CBD is well-tolerated by most dogs, but you can always ask your veterinarian about the best product for your pet!
FAQs on How to Socialize a Dog
Below are some of the most common questions people have about dog socialization. As mentioned, a dog’s age, behavior, breed, and past experiences may require a different approach.
How to Socialize a Puppy
A puppy can begin with the socialization process on its 8th week. Since you’ll be exposing your pet to new people, places, and dogs, you should make sure that it has received the required vaccines as well as deworming to avoid diseases.
How to Socialize an Aggressive Dog
Aggression is one of the first behaviors that should be addressed. Depending on the level of aggression and the size of your dog, you may want to hire a professional to help. For example, it is much easier to socialize a Chihuahua that growls at new people than a Chow Chow that lunges and snaps at every dog it sees.
It may be tempting to use negative reinforcement with an aggressive dog, but it is best not to match your dog’s tone. If an owner yells at an upset dog, it could escalate the hostility. Instead, use positive reinforcement to redirect your dog’s energy. Give the pup more exercise, playtime, and guide its focus away from things that could trigger aggression.
How to Socialize a Dog with Humans
The best method of socializing dogs with humans is a simple daily walk. Your dog might show some anxiety at first, but it will soon outgrow it as it gets more comfortable with the routine.
How to Socialize an Older/Adult Dog
Knowing the past experiences and behavior of an adult or older dog can help socialize them. If you’re adopting an older dog, try to get as much information or paperwork about their previous owners as possible. Socializing a grown dog can require more time and patience, but remember that it is not impossible!
How to Socialize a Rescue Dog
Often abandoned and neglected, rescue dogs typically carry with them years of anxiety and fear. These experiences can make them aggressive and stressed when exposed to new environments. Again, gaining their trust should always be the first step.
The most important aspect of socializing a rescue is getting them used to your home. Allow the dog to explore the house freely, removing any other animals or children for the first few hours. Once your dog feels comfortable in the environment, steadily introduce other animals and family members one by one.
How to Socialize a Nervous Dog
Nervous dogs may have separation anxiety or fear of new people/places. Calming products like thunder vests and CBD can help dogs cope with nervous tendencies. When introducing a dog to a new place, person, or animal, slowly limit their exposure until they can confidently explore new areas.
You can make dog socialization a fun and educational process for you and your dog. Remember that the process works best when both you and your dog go through the process. This encourages mutual respect, trust, and bonding. Simply follow the tips we’ve mentioned on how to socialize a dog and enjoy the company of your furry friend!