Socializing your dog is an essential component of your dog's health. One of the first requirements at Bark ATL’s cage-free dog boarding facility is that your dog must be socialized. When a dog isn't properly socialized, it can cause risk to the dog's health, pose injury to others, and many other complications. Here are a few tips that you can apply when socializing your dog.
The longer you wait to socialize your dog the more difficult it will be to socialize him. It is much easier to train a puppy rather than an adult dog. As soon as they’ve been fully vaccinated, try to start socializing at dog parks or on walks. Most daycares allow puppies to start visiting once your dog has finished all three rounds of their puppy vaccines or the first round of adult vaccines. Starting early can be a great, safe way for your dog to make lots of furry friends.
When your dog has bad experiences at an early age, it can cause future negative interactions. When you take your dog out in public, learn how to identify stress signals to avoid emotional trauma to your pup. Things like a stiff tail (even if it’s wagging) and raised hair on the back can indicate that a dog is nervous and a nervous dog can lash out defensively similar to an aggressive dog. Try to remain aware of your actions when your dog is social with other dogs. Owner anxiety can rub off on an impressionable puppy. If your dog is too afraid to meet a new dog, you can encourage the meet and greet but don’t force it. If your dog is struggling to have a positive experience away from home, arrange an in-home visit with more familiar dogs of your family and friends to reinforce the social behavior in an environment that your dog will feel more secure.
A simple daily walk is a great way to socialize your dog. Even just a 20-minute walk can be enough to release any nervousness or pent up energy they may have. Taking your dog out in public will help him become more open to people and new experiences. Pay attention to how your dog reacts to strangers and their dogs while leashed as a strong, negative reaction could indicate leash aggression.
Dog training classes are also an excellent way for your dog to meet other dogs and socialize. Training helps your dog learn how to be obedient and interact with other dogs. Puppies have a natural socialization period from around seven weeks to around three months where they will more readily accept new species, humans, and other dogs. Take advantage of this period with puppy training classes where both you and your dog will learn how best to keep your puppy obedient and happy. If your dog is already too old for puppy training, that’s okay. All dogs can benefit from obedience classes, no matter their age.
Last, but not least, teaching your dog how to be alone will help socialize your dog. Dogs should be able to tolerate being by themselves for a brief period. Once you train your dog how to be alone, it will also reduce the risk of your dog having separation anxiety. If your dog shows signs of separation anxiety when you leave, avoid any instinct to reassure your dog physically and verbally which can reinforce the negative behavior. Going and coming home without making a big fuss will help show your dog they don’t need to get worried when you leave. Crate training can also be extremely beneficial for anxious dogs. Positively reinforcing that the crate is a happy, safe place for your dog is very easy. Find reasons for your dog to want to be in their container, like feeding times or when they get their favorite treat or bone and reward them when they’re quiet and relaxed inside the crate.
All in all, exposing your dog to a wide variety of people and places is the best thing you can do. When you do this your dog will become more confident and comfortable interacting with others.