The information contained in or provided through DOGICA® site is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site and any information contained on or provided through this site is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties or pay. DOGICA® Cookies Policy and Regulations
Where, How, Why & When to Socialize Puppies 44 Ways to Socialize Dog & Puppy How to Socialize an Adult Dog? How to Socialize a New Puppy? Interactive & Printable Puppy Socialization Checklist How to Socialize a Dog during Coronavirus Quarantine When to Socialize a Puppy? Tips, Tricks & Techniques for Dog Socialization Help and Manuals for Puppy Socialization Is it ever too late to socialize a dog? How to socialize your dog with other dogs? 16 Reasons to Socialize Your Dog How do I socialize my dog with other dogs? How to Socialize an Older Dog? How to Socialize Your Dog with Other Dogs Step by Step Guide - How to Socialize a Dog How to Socialize Your Dog with Cats How to Socialize Your Dog with Kids When Puppies Meet Adult Dogs Dog Socialization Mistakes Video Manuals for Dog Socialization Dog Socialization Restaurant How to Socialize Dog for a Park? How to Socialize a Rescue Dog How to Socialize your Dog with Vets How to Socialize a Puppy during COVID-19 How to Socialize an Agressive Dog? How to Socialize Shy Puppy How to Socialize Fearful Dog? What Age Is Best for Puppy Socialization? Dog Socialization vs Desensitizing How to Socialize a Nervous Dog? How to Socialize an Anxious Dog? What is Puppy Socialization? Puppy Socialization Myths Early Dog Socialization What does it mean to socialize a dog? How long does it take to socialize a dog? Puppy Socialization with Sound Socializing your Adolescent Dog Puppy Socialization Training Classes Puppy Socialization Classes Socilize the Puppy in Kindergarten Puppy Socialization: How to Socialize a Puppy How old does a Puppy have to be to Socialize? Socializing a Puppy before Vaccinations Puppy Socialization During Quarantine Puppy Socialization Training Classes Desensitizing Your Dog Proactive Exposure Training Puppy Socialization Checklist How to Socialize a Puppy During Social Distancing How to Socialize a Puppy During the Pandemic Can you Over Socialize a Puppy? Puppy Socialization Window
Socialization means learning to be part of society. When we talk about socializing pet puppies, it means helping them learn to be comfortable as a pet within human society - a society that includes many different types of people, environments, buildings, sights, noises, smells, animals and other dogs.
Socialization is not an "all or nothing" project. You can socialize a puppy a bit, a lot, or a whole lot.
Never leave the puppy unattended, even for a moment. Never Force a Scared Puppy!
Socialization is essential for helping your puppy develop into a happy, fun and safe companion. "Low and slow, short and sweet" is the best way to condition your dog to new things!
The dog is aggressive around people, dogs, and other pets.
The dog backs up, and his hackles rise when a person or another dog approaches him.
The dog is unsettled and nervous of loud noises and unfamiliar sights when out on walks.
The dog is very shy of people and other dogs.
The dog becomes so overexcited around other pets and people that he causes them to be anxious.
WHAT IS SOCIALIZED DOG? Dogs that are comfortable meeting and being around a variety of people of all ages, other dogs, and even other types of pets, especially cats are considered well socialized. Being relaxed and receptive to new people and pets is not something that comes naturally to every dog, any more than it does to every person. Some dogs are extroverts and others are timid. Some dogs are naturally comfortable with people, but take a bit more time getting used to another dog or cat. A socialised dog is a dog that can read other dog's body language and can respond accordingly is a pleasure to own. A well socialised dog has the skills to offer calming signals and gives the nervous dog space, it does not rush over to bundle the dog wanting to play causing the scared dog to bite through utter fear!
WELL-SOCIALIZED DOG? A well socialised dog is everything you no doubt pictured when you got a puppy or dog. A game of chase is requested by another dog and your dog can oblige without playing to rough, or bundling in with wild exuberance causing possible injury. He is not the constant chaser always pinning other dogs to the floor to then writhe all over them in wild excitement, nope not your dog! Your dog is safe and calm around small children, they understand they are not chase and play objects but little people to be calm and well mannered with when around. Your well socialised dog can play fairly, it will chase but also take to turns to be chased. Play between two well socialised dogs is equal and a pleasure to watch.
A well socialised dog has impulse control within its skill set. This means that the dog never becomes so over aroused by things in its environment that it loses the ability to communicate effectively. This is achieved by correct socialisation and applying reward based training methods and teaching impulse control. People often think this is an unachievable goal when that bundle of crazy comes home but it is achievable. You do not need to be a dog genius, but you do need commitment and a good understanding on how to guide your puppy or dog on that right path.
AN OVER-SOCIALIZED DOG? These dogs do not pay attention to other dog's signals, everything is fair game. They have one thing on their mind, they go rushing over to bundle and play with all dog's or wanting attention from people and that is OK? I mean he just loves everyone and that is what you want from a dog right? Wrong, this type of dog is often the cause of more arguments and bite incidents than an aggressive dog. An over socialised dog has never learnt impulse control, it believes that all the fun and excitement comes from other people and dogs. The most common phrase used when these dogs are rushing over despite the calls of the owner is "It is OK he is friendly, he just loves everyone". Ok, but what if the other dog is on the lead due to being fearful and it is not OK with that?
Would you be OK with a stranger running at you, waving arms and then grabbing and hugging and jumping and screaming with excitement in your face? - no? So why should our dogs? An over socialised dog will bounce, pull and lunge on the lead to get to the object of its desires, despite the other dog giving very clear signals it does not want to participate. These types of situation can lead to a heated exchange of words between owners, fearful Fido growling, barking on the lead and making its feelings clear as it becomes more stressed and fearful, the owner struggles to not let the fear spill into a bite situation and over the top Fido ignores these threats and continues to try and bundle the dog, we can see how bites happen and how people get so frustrated.
UNDER SOCIALIZED DOG? It is not normal for young puppies to be timid or scared, at a young age puppies should approach things with intrigue and curiosity. An under socialised puppy can be down to genetics, or a lack of suitable experiences starting as early as 3 weeks. This is why if buying a puppy from a breeder it is vital you get a good ethical, reputable breeder dedicated to providing positive experiences with sounds, people and objects and enrichment within its environment. Shy puppies have different sensitivities, and some are more difficult to socialise so working on changing this as soon as possible is vital.The biggest mistake people make with shy puppies is forcing them to continually face their fears in the hope they will learn it is OK and will get over the fears.Shy puppies should not be put in situations where they become overwhelmed.
This only leaves the puppy with a negative feeling and it feels relieved the threat has gone away and further reinforces the fear.Allow a shy puppy the freedom and time to make friends at their own speed. Do not allow your puppy to be bundled by other puppies or dogs or stroked and handled if people are the cause of the worry. If someone approaches your puppy and your puppy backs off, ask the stranger to stop, drop a treat on the floor and give distance. Giving your dog experiences that they can cope with and leave with the feeling they have not been pushed over threshold will get you the best results quickest, continually pushing a nervous dog over threshold often leads to fear biting this is not how you want your puppy to respond when scared.
Do you want a dog who is friendly and trustworthy around both people and other dogs? You might think all you need to do is adopt the right breed, and your job is done. Puppies who are not socialized can grow up to be fearful of other dogs, people, and just about anyone and anything outside of their routine and that fear can lead to aggression. Studies show that poor socialization is a major factor for dogs with aggressive tendencies. If they have lots of positive encounters with other dogs, all kinds of humans, and new situations during that developmental window, the are far more likely to grow up to be a confident, relaxed, and friendly dog.
There is a "Golden 12" rule so that you won't miss anything. According to it, during the habituation your puppy should:
Get to know 12 different places: A Lake, River, Meadow, Forest, Beach, Other People's House, Staircase, Elevator, Car, Veterinary Office, Nursing Office.
Also, leave them home alone 12 times a week - away from the family and other animals, for 5 - 45 minutes.
Get to know 12 different people: Children, Elderly People, Adults, The Disabled, A Person in a Hood, Hat, Glasses, etc.
Get to know 12 different surfaces: Paving, Wood, Parquet, Carpet, Grass, Linoleum, Tiles, Sand, Mud, Puddle, etc.
Get to know 12 different objects, which made of different materials, of different structures and shapes - Metal Keys, Cardboard Packaging, Plastic Bags, Wooden Objects, Paper Items, Plush Toys, Ball, etc.
Get to know 12 different noises: Doors Opening, Intercom, The Sound of Children Playing, Storm, Rain, The Barking of Other Dogs, The Sound coming from TV, Washing Machine, Vacuum Cleaner, Driving Cars & Motorcycles, etc.
Get to know 12 different fast-moving objects: Cyclists, Skaters, Skateboarders, Cars, Runners, Cats, Squirrels, Horses, Cows, etc.
Face 12 different challenges: Staircases, Puddles, Cardboard Tunnels, etc.
Get to know 12 different types of touch: Petting the Head, Chest, Touching Ears, Nose and Paws, Checking Teeth, etc.
Taste the food in 12 different dishes: Plastic or Metal Bowl, Pot, Pan, Cup, Mug, Plate, etc.
Taste the food in 12 different places: Living Room, Bedroom, Kitchen, Bathroom, Laundry Room, Garage, Backyard, Home of Others, etc.
Get to know 12 different dogs - playing with not dangerous dogs!
Get to know 12 different accessories: Braided Collar, Leather, Muzzle, Braces, Long, Short, etc.
WITH YOU !
Before you undertake any socialization exercise with your dog, be advised that your own behavior and reactions to situations and encounters influences the outcome. If you routinely tighten your dog's leash at the first signs of an approaching dog, your dog will sense your anxiety and associate it with the other dog. Now he wants the other dog to stay away and achieves this by growling and barking and straining against the leash. Tightening the leash also robs your dog of his "flight" option, which in turn serves only to intensify his "fight" option. Keep him leashed certainly, but control him with a loose leash and calm demeanor, never yelling: he may surprise you and imitate your own calm. Keeping a loose leash, except when a situation arises that requires tighter control for his safety and the safety of others, gives your dog the opportunity to exercise self-control.
Why Is Puppy Socialization
Well-socialized puppies usually develop into safer, more relaxed and enjoyable pet dogs. This is because they are more comfortable in a wider variety of situations than poorly socialized dogs, so they are less likely to behave fearfully or aggressively when faced with something new. Poorly socialized dogs are much more likely to react with fear or aggression to unfamiliar people, dogs and experiences. Dogs who are relaxed about honking horns, cats, cyclists, veterinary examinations, crowds and long stairwells are easier and safer to live with than dogs who find these situations threatening.
Well-socialized dogs also live much more relaxed, peaceful and happy lives than dogs who are constantly stressed out by their environment. Most people find it easier and more enjoyable to live with a dog who is relaxed with strangers, gets along well with dogs and adapts easily to new experiences. Puppy and dog socialization is an important endeavor for pet parents. In the end, the goal is to have a socialized dog that you can take places and introduce to other pets and people without concern. With a socialized dog, you can avoid causing a scene and, of course, escape subsequent embarrassment.
Be Prepared! Always take some clean water and a bowl when you are taking little Fido to the park, beach or wherever. Have a spare leash on hand, and be sure that he is wearing his ID tags too.
Be Responsible! Also have on hand a "baggie and scooper" of some sort to clean up any little messes your pooch may make. Dog owners need to be responsible citizens and not leave any trash or "poop" in public places. Non dog owning people and other dog owners do not want their environment spoiled by carelessness.
Be aware! If you own a guardian breed, or one subject to breed specific legislation it is important to remember that your dog is an ambassador for it's breed. A well mannered, well socialized dog with a responsible owner can do much to improve the public perception of individual dog breeds.
Like any new experience with your dog, it is best to control whatever you can and keep the element of surprise to a minimum. Before you start socializing your puppy or your dog, there are a few things to consider that will help increase the chances of a successful socialization process, including:
Health Make sure your dog is up to date on all of their vaccines. If your pet has been ill recently, it is probably not the best time to have them interact with other, less familiar dogs. And, while it probably goes without saying, you should also avoid interactions with dogs who were recently sick or injured.
Safety When you start socializing your dog, you want them to have positive experiences as they encounter different people and new pups. Try to arrange interactions with other dog-friendly pups or dogs you are already familiar with. Simple interactions that can produce fairly predictable results will reduce the likelihood of aggressive behaviors and injuries, from scratches to bites.
Places Try to make sure your dog does not get overwhelmed. Places where there are lots of activities, sounds, smells, movements, and so on are not the best places to socialize your pup. At least early on in the socialization process, try to avoid parades, fairs, outdoor concerts, and other places where there is a lot going on. Again, socialization requires positive experiences and sensory overload is not going to help get the job done.
The Dog Park A trip to the dog park where your dog gets to run around with their canine comrades should be considered an end goal. Dog parks are, of course, for dogs. Socialized dogs who already know how to interact with each other. Dog parks should not necessarily be avoided during the socialization process, but full-blown immersion in the often-chaotic environment is best reserved for a later date.
Puppies Should Learn
From Mom A puppy will begin to socialize on their own as soon as they are born. Sometimes when we adopt, we do not really have a say in how long a dog can spend time with their biological family. But if you have the option, do not take a puppy away from their mother and littermates before eight weeks of age. Interactions with their moms and siblings teach young puppies a lot about getting along with other dogs. If you take your puppy away from their canine family too early, you may do permanent damage to their social skills.
What Age Is Best
for Puppy Socialization? There is a window of socialisation when your puppy is between 3-16 weeks old. Usually, this window starts to close between 12-20 weeks, with 16 weeks being the average age. However, in some breeds it can start closing as early as 8 weeks old, so do not delay! From about 12 to 18 weeks old the opportunity to easily socialize the puppy ends and with each passing week it becomes harder to get the pup to accept and enjoy something that he is initially wary of. After 18 weeks old, it is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to teach a dog to like something new, or help him become comfortable with something he finds frightening.
the Socialization Process From his littermates, the puppy acquires additional socialization skills for how to interact with members of his own species. Through their play, puppies learn about dominance and submission, get an introduction into mating behavior, and receive a wide range of stimulation for the development of their senses and physical abilities. Puppies that have no littermates or come from litters that were split up at too early of an age, typically have difficulty interacting with dogs later in life. Not knowing how to react when confronted by a member of their own species, they tend to be either overly shy or aggressive. These pups often have difficulty living in multi-dog households.
Make Your Dog A Part
Of The Family Almost all dogs want to be a part of their pack. You and your family are that pack, so include your dog in as many activities as possible. It should go without saying, but let your dog live indoors. There are no good "outdoor" dogs. A dog who lives in the home with their human pack all around them will be more comfortable with people and the bustle of the household, and they will be much happier, too.
Automatic Defense Reflex Pups need to have many different environmental and situational experiences such as riding in the car, going to the groomer and playing at the vet's office. The more positive interactions a puppy has in these environments, the more resilient his brain becomes and the better he will cope with novelty. As with tiny puppies, these positive experiences also affect an older puppy's brain growth, and the more varied the experience, the more the physiology of the brain is shaped appropriately. The thicker the dog's cerebral cortex, the higher the concentration of vital brain enzymes associated with transmission of information to and from various parts of the brain will be. This not only helps a dog learn but also gives him the ability to solve problems and control impulses in domestic situations without being prompted. Positive social experience creates a more socially acceptable dog.
Some pups have an automatic defense reflex when a hand comes towards them or extends over the head. When a puppy is very young, this reflex is not under conscious control, so it is vital to desensitize the puppy to accept being touched by an approaching hand and to have people lean over them as they do so, as a leaning position can be threatening. Target or touch training - teaching a pup to touch a human hand with his nose, and pairing an approaching hand over the head with something that the pup likes, helps build a positive association with the action and body position. This is one of the most vital social lessons a puppy can learn because human invasion of space and the "hand over the head" scenario is going to happen many times throughout the dog's life.
WHEN TO SOCIALIZE
YOUR PUPPY? The critical time to socialize a puppy is during the first 3 to 4 months of its life. While curiosity and the ability to learn don't have expiration dates, young puppies have an important behavioral "sweet spot" between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks. During this critical period, your dog builds her impressions and attitudes about what is normal and acceptable. At this time more than any other, positive experiences with the world around her build a solid foundation for the rest of your dog's life.
The First Fear Period The first fear period occurs around eight to 10 weeks of age. If a puppy does not have positive interactions with other people and pets, he or she may develop fear of them as she develops into an adult. Likewise, if a puppy experiences something very frightening during this period without any type of behavioral assistance, they may develop a severe fear for the rest of their lives.
The Second Fear Period Puppies experience a second fear period that can occur anywhere from six to 14 months of age. This period can be difficult for dog owners as their dog may be acting as a friendly, outgoing and active adolescent at the time it occurs. Owners can be caught unawares when their seemingly normal pup suddenly becomes fearful over a person, animal or event.
Experiences Most people interpret socialization to mean teaching a dog good interactions with other dogs or humans. And while these are the essential tools to nurturing a well-adjusted dog, proper socialization also means introducing young puppies in a safe and positive way to all of the possible sights and sounds that will be part of their world. For city dwellers or anyone anticipating regular visits to a city during the 12+ years of their dog's life, this may include busy streets and car noise, loud buses and skateboarders. For travelers, car rides and a crate, bodies of water, and escalators are important. For families living in more rural environments, farm animals and loud machinery may make the cut. And do not forget children of all ages, disabled people whose canes or wheelchairs can form a frightening picture, and men particularly those wearing hats, hoods, or sunglasses.
Introduce New Situations
Gently and Positively The key is not to overwhelm your puppy upon first introduction. It is natural for a puppy to be frightened the first time they experience something new. They may show this fear by shaking, whining, tucking their tail, yawning, lip licking, or trying to hide or run away. Be sure to keep the experience as pleasant as possible by talking to your dog through it and rewarding them with tiny tidbits of delicious food. If your dog is concerned, move farther away from the object of socialization or to a less intense version of it - for example, try a less busy street if a main drag is too noisy for your pup on your first try. If your dog is not fully vaccinated yet, be careful of group dog situations. However, most puppies can be easily carried in a bag or simply in your arms. In public places, your puppy can join you as long as you put a blanket or towel on the ground first. Keep puppy on leash so they do not go beyond the boundaries of the blanket.
Socialization is not just about exposing your puppy to new things. It is also about carefully monitoring these interactions to ensure they are positive ones. Though puppies can seem precociously unflappable, especially when they are gnawing your ankles - they are sensitive souls who can easily become overwhelmed. Your job is to gauge the tenor of a situation by reading your puppy's body language. Be sure to monitor the humans in this equation, too, especially if they are not very dog savvy: Something as simple as holding a puppy incorrectly: letting his legs dangle without supporting his bottom, for instance can make him feel unstable and unsafe.
Never Force a Scared Puppy! Almost inevitably, your puppy will encounter a situation or person that frightens him. The answer is not to force the puppy to "deal with it," but rather to give him the space to come to terms with his fear on his own. If a puppy is running from a tall man wearing a hat, do not put the puppy in the man's lap and say, "He has to get over it." That is overwhelming. But if you put the puppy on the ground, and the puppy chooses to go over and say hello - that's a better tactic. When a puppy is startled or concerned, some trainers advocate ignoring the fearful behavior and not comforting the puppy, lest you reinforce the reaction.
At this age, always relieve the pup before entering a public place. This prevents accidents.
Choose one exposure at a time in the beginning by just picking one new thing: things that move, new smells, new sounds, new strange objects.
Be patient and confident. Let the puppy move at their own pace.
Give the puppy strong leadership. Be confident and effective with the redirection and praise.
Keep the exposures short and positive. Slowly add time to the outings as the pup continues to mature and remain comfortable and confident in public.
Do not be afraid to take a step back or try again. If the pup becomes too excited, scared, or overwhelmed remove them from the situation and try again.
Never leave the puppy unattended, even for a moment. Puppies are not 100% reliable! They can get up and cause problems, be stolen, or have a negative experience.
Never leave the puppy in the car unattended, regardless of the outside temperature, how long you are going to be gone, if the windows are down, etc.
Take the time with a puppy that is overwhelmed or scared so they become comfortable. Allow the puppy to observe and become comfortable with the exposure at their own pace.
Allow the puppy to observe from a distance if they stop walking or try to leave the situation.
Use consistent, calm praise to reassure the pup. Praise any movement toward what is scaring them.
Always observe the puppy's body language and take note and respond to any changes. Puppies like to observe and explore before they are fully comfortable with something new. Some take just a few seconds while others need more time to observe before becoming comfortable.
Avoid reinforcing poor behavior, redirect it! Do not coddle, pet, or reassure a puppy that is acting afraid. Allow them to observe at their own pace, but coddling them will reassure this fearful behavior.
If they do become frightened calmly move away from the exposure and wait for the puppy to become comfortable again. Motivate or distract them by practicing verbal cues, interactive play to improve their confidence, or just letting them observe.
Allow the puppy to set the pace of the reproach. Do not force them to investigate if they are not ready.
Praise the puppy when they become comfortable and want to explore.
Socialization is the process of teaching your dog about his world and what acceptable behavior is. It is also about making sure he listens to you when necessary and giving him the confidence to handle any situation without being fearful or aggressive. It is not just taking him everywhere, making him do things that scare him, and meeting people who overwhelm him. It must be a thoughtful process that takes his personality, fears, and current level of confidence into account. Socializing can be a fun process that will allow you and your dog to bond in a manner that is not possible just hanging around the house, but it does take time. Why is it so important? It will affect everything else you do with your dog for the rest of his life. If your dog is calm and confident, it will help in all these areas.
Dogs are inherently pack animals, much like their wolf ancestors. Research shows that this mindset is deeply ingrained in Canis Familiaris, so to withhold such a thing from them would not only be a sin against that individual dog, but it would be a crime against nature itself so to speak. Science has actually proven that dogs need socialization in order to be happy and healthy.
1. Build Confidence Just like people, the more varied a dog's experiences, the better his confidence will be when dealing with new situations. While you never want to force a dog into situations where he cannot get away if he is scared, he should always have the opportunity to check out that weird noise, strange flooring, or new person. As his caretaker, your job is to help him feel safe exploring new things. The safer he feels, the more confident he will be in new situations.
2. Better Vet Visits All pet lovers have seen the "humorous" pictures of dogs who are afraid of going to the vet. Unfortunately, it can be a serious problem. The staff at the vet's office, by nature of their jobs, must get close to your dog, invading his personal space. That does not even take into account the possibility of an uncomfortable vaccination. If your dog is fearful at the vet, he could lash out, possibly biting someone. Just as bad, he could become so fearful that it is a traumatizing experience for him, tainting all future interactions. If your dog is properly socialized with strangers and new places, his less likely to have an agonizing fear of going to the vet. If you take the time to socialize him at the vet's office, before he actually has to be examined, the chances of a frightening experience are even less. Your dog will need to visit the vet on a regular basis for his whole life. Preparing him to visit the vet is one of the most important tasks you will ever do for your dog.
3. Exercise If you are lucky enough to live on an acre of fenced property, you probably are not as worried about this one. Unfortunately, most of us do not have a fenced yard large enough to give our dogs adequate exercise. You need to be able to take your dog for walks or to the dog park to get adequate exercise. If you dog has been socialized, this will be much easier. You will not have to worry about the path you walk or how many other dogs or strangers or children you see. You can confidently take your dog anywhere for exercise and companionship.
4. Better Relations
With Neighbors Who does not hate the neighbor's dog that barks all night or body slams the fence every time someone walks by? It can be annoying or even frightening. With socialization, you can calm a dog's overprotective behavior that causes them to bark at anyone approaching or encroaching in their territory. If they feel safe with others, they will have less of a reason to react, and a little additional training can quell the unwanted behavior. Besides, you really want your neighbors to like your dog. If they do, they will feel comfortable rounding him up if he ever escapes your house or yard.
5. Better Kennel Boarding We do not want to do it. We want to be able to take our dogs everywhere with us. However, sometimes we just do not have that option - they need to stay in a boarding kennel. It is our responsibility to ensure that they have the best experience possible. This starts with making sure the kennel is a reputable one with an understanding staff who recognizes a nervous or scared dog and knows how to handle them. It is also our responsibility to have helped our dog develop confidence in new situations. They may not be happy staying at the kennel, but they also should not be overly afraid. If you have helped them learn that new people and places are not scary, they will settle in the kennel and with the staff with minimum fear and anxiety.
6. Travel The inverse of better kennel behavior is appropriate travel behavior. If you have an RV, the best of both worlds is to take your dog with you on trips. Along with all the other steps for safe travel, good socialization will make the trip much more pleasant. A confident dog will be easier to take on potty breaks in strange places. They will also settle down at night more comfortably even if there are strange nighttime sounds outside the RV. Your dog will be able to enjoy exploring the new surroundings as much as you do.
7. Mental Stimulation Like humans, dogs have a better quality of life when they have opportunities for mental stimulation. This is certainly obtainable in the home. You can teach them games, have toys they have to think through to solve, or have daily training sessions. However, if you are able to take your dog out to experience new places, smell new scents, and meet new people and dogs, their life will be enriched. You will find that they are happier when they are at home - they will probably sleep better at night and they will live longer.
8. Bring Your Pet to Work The holy grail of dog ownership is being able to bring your dog to work. The benefits of pets at work include reduced stress and even improved productivity for their owner, but how many of our dogs are really ready to do it? Would he settle down at your desk and be quiet while you are on the phone? Would he welcome people stopping by, or would he bark at the invasion of "his space"? Would he not beg for bites of your coworkers' lunches? If your dog is already socialized, then you could say "definitely." When that amazing job came along, you would be confident that you and your dog would shine in your new company.
As recently as 30 years ago, trainers and owners did not talk much about puppy socialization. But today, most people know about the importance of making puppies well-rounded little Renaissance hounds. One of the most valuable lessons you can teach your puppy is that the world is a safe place with kind humans and friendly dogs. Socialization is the learning process through which puppies become accustomed to being near various people, animals, and environments. We think about walking joyously through the park with our perfectly socialized pal, stopping to chat with friends and their equally well-behaved dogs, and then heading off to the dog park where our little buddy can join the rambunctiously pleasant pack. But the reality does not always reflect our expectations.
1 - Gain Your Dog's Trust! When you first bring a new puppy home, make sure to spend a lot of time with him. Play, nap, and do other things that will help you both bond. This will start teaching your pooch to trust!
2 - Meet Other Dogs Soon after you bring your puppy home, it is time to start his socialization training. It is important to expose your pup to different dogs at an early age so that he learns to get along with them. Puppies who are not socialized sometimes never learn to "speak dog" and have fear or aggression problems. It is very important to only pick safe dogs to interact with your puppy so that she has positive experiences.
3 - Use Controlled Environments: Invite friends and family over. If your puppy is not allowed out, bring the people in! Ask them to remove their shoes before coming into your home just in case they have stepped in something that can spread harmful bacteria.
4 - Do not Bring Your Puppy Near Random Dogs This is especially important when you are at the vet. Dogs who visit the vet may be sick. If you let your puppy greet them, you could be exposing him to a contagious disease. Carry your young puppy into the veterinarian's office, and keep him in your lap or in a crate until his immune system is protected.
5 - Meet Other People: Pick different people. Puppies should be exposed to people of different genders, ethnicities, ages, shapes, and sizes. The more variety you introduce, the quicker he will learn that variety is the spice of life!
6 - Avoid Negative Interactions All socialization is not good socialization. Bad experiences at an early age can make negative impressions for years to come. Sometimes, certain situations are just too much for your puppy. If he is having a good time, he will look the part. Ears will be up, eyes will be bright, and he may wag his tail or whole body and actively seek interaction. If your puppy is not enjoying himself, learn to recognize signs of stress to avoid causing emotional harm, including: Cowering or Clinging Ears Down and Back Lip Licking Tail Tucking Yawning Turning the Head or Body Away from People who approach Sleeping - all young puppies take frequent naps, but if you find your puppy sleeping a lot when you have her out or at a busy event, she may actually be shutting down
7 - Enroll in Puppy Kindergarten So your pup can engage in some structured social interactions with pals around the same age and socialize through play. For busy pet parents, doggy daycare is also a great way to socialize your puppy.
8 - Do not be afraid of a Little Noise Let your pup hear a variety of household sounds, such as the vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, hair dryer, dishwasher, and so on. These sensory experiences can help your pooch get comfortable around foreign sounds, often ones that are loud and unexpected. Acclimate your puppy to lots of different sounds, being careful not to overwhelm him with too much noise too fast. Expose him to kitchen sounds, telephones ringing, children playing, sportscasters yelling on TV, radios playing, buses moving by, and so on.
9 - Visit the Pet Store Doggie visitors are sanctioned in most of them. This is an excellent opportunity for brief encounters with other dogs and people.
10 - Handling Young puppies should be cuddled and handled daily by as many different people as possible. Keep the contact gentle and pleasant for the puppy. Hold the puppy in different positions, gently finger her feet, rub her muzzle, stroke her back and sides, look in her ears.
11 - Food Bowl Exercises Teach your puppy to enjoy having people approach her bowl while he is eating. This will help to prevent resource guarding, which occurs when dogs feel anxious about others approaching their own valued resources. Walk up to your puppy while he is eating her food, drop an even tastier treat into her dish, and walk away. Repeat once or twice during each meal until your puppy is visibly excited about your approach. Then walk up, physically pick up her dish, put in a treat, give the dish back, and walk away.
12 - Teach your Puppy to be Alone Puppies should learn to tolerate being completely separate from other people and animals every day to avoid developing separation anxiety. Leave your pup alone at least once a day. This will help break any attachment that could lead to separation anxiety. Part of raising a healthy and happy dog is making sure that they have the ability to be comfortable in multiple situations.
13 - Prevent Puppy Aggression There is no need to show the dog who is boss or try to dominate him. Confrontational approaches like pinning your dog down or scruffing him frequently backfire and create the aggression dog owners seek to avoid. Focus on rewarding correct behavior and preventing undesirable behavior to teach your puppy human rules and build a trusting relationship.
14 - Prevent Biting Provide appropriate toys to redirect your puppy's biting. When your puppy bites too hard during play, making a sudden noise "Ow!" and end the game to help him learn to use his mouth gently. Never squeeze your puppy's mouth shut, yell at him, or hold him down. This will frighten him and likely make biting worse. Note that while puppies under five months tend to explore the world with their mouths, dogs past this age are considered adolescents and should no longer be play biting.
15 - Road Trips From a young age, you will want to get your pup out on short car rides. This will help them get used to the motion of being in a car and will help you avoid car sickness. Even if you can not afford to spend the night somewhere, take day trips to new places like a nearby beach, lake, or popular hiking area. Research first and be sure dogs are welcome. Please, try to make sure your pup is not at high risk of injury when traveling. A dog crate, barrier or harness is a wise investment. In addition to riding in the car happily, we also want to socialize our dogs to traffic noise and start early attention work around cars to prevent car chasing. Dogs are predatory creatures and their instinct to chase is high. It is crucial that they are taught early that chasing cars is off limits!
16 - Vets Vet clinics are always a good place to expose your pup positively to. Most vets don't mind at all helping socialize a young puppy, in fact, most vets love it! Bring your pup in and practice weighing them. Let them get a cookie from the receptionist and vet tech. Work some handling exercises in the waiting room. Help them realize the vets is a great place to be. When you have an actual appointment, be sure to bring loads of treats and make it a positive spot to be! The bottom line is, the vet will be a part of your dog's life and you want them to be comfortable there.
17 - Different Surfaces Walk Probably everyone knows a dog who is afraid of walking on metal manhole covers in the street or grates on the sidewalk. Or dogs who won't step on wet grass to go potty. By exposing puppies to different surfaces when they are young we can greatly decrease the likelihood they will be afraid of walking on a variety of surfaces later in life. This exposure to different surfaces is something that can easily be started by the breeder, especially since the sense of touch is well developed, even at birth.
Walking on Metal Surfaces: If puppies find yummy treats on metal surface and readily climb on. With repeated practice they will have no problems standing on a metal scale or metal table at the veterinary hospital.
Exposure to Water and Wet Grass: The best simulation is a little infant pool with water and fake grass. This will help accustom the puppy to the feel so that he do not grow up to be sissies who can't go out to potty when the weather is rainy and the yard is wet. You can use wet sod or mud instead.
Exposure to frost or snow: Corgi puppies live in Alaska so they are receiving exposure to the cold early on. They run on the frost and play in the cold like it is normal for them, because it is. Imagine what housetraining would look like if these guys did not like going outside in the cold weather!
18 - Socialize Puppy to Children To puppies and dogs who have never seen kids, children can look like little aliens. As puppies mature, children can also start looking more like toys or things they should chase because they scream and run and flail their arms like injured prey. If the breeder does not have or know children whom the puppies can interact with she should at least play sounds of children and babies from a sound CD. The new family should also be told that the puppy is lacking in this experience and that they should make a special effort to provide good interactions with children.
19 - Watch for Signs of Fear During socialization watch for signs that your dog is fearful or scared. Look to be reassuring but never force your dog to approach anything that frightens it. Do not crouch to comfort it - it will make you look nervous. Stand tall and offer it a treat to distract it from whatever it may be frightened by. Remember, you are there to guide and reassure. Your socializing efforts should be rewarding for both of you !
20 - Take Your Dog to Work See if you can talk your boss into letting dogs come to the office at least once a week, on casual Fridays for example. At work your dog not only gets to be with you all day, but can meet a lot of new people.
21 - Community Events Be on the look-out for any events that happen in your community where dogs are welcome. Does not need to be a pet event - a lot of art in the parks, charity walks and even some summer movie events allow dogs to come. These are great events to take your dog to if they are pretty well-adjusted and just need more social time. These are probably not appropriate for a dog with a lot of fear or anxiety, as you may be a disruption.
22 - Sound Socialization In addition to exposing your puppy to a variety of experiences, people and environments, we also suggestion exposing your companion to various sounds. Since sounds are often the source of fears in dogs, getting your dog used to some noises will help prevent him from being scared of them later. How to accustom your dog to life sounds? Use the socialization sounds playlist!
23 - Watch TV with your Dog Let your puppy watch television with you. You may set a special DOG TV programs for this purpose as well.
24 - Moving Objects Play with your dog with moving objects: Blow Bubbles, Fly Kites, Watch Flying Flags, Play with Balloons - just as with kids, dogs need close supervision with balloons!
25 - Pick the Right People Make sure that everyone you choose to interact with your puppy knows how to do so in a positive manner. If children cannot hold or pet your puppy correctly, they should not interact with him. Remember, a negative experience during this critical time can make your puppy afraid.
26 - Getting Used to Being Touched Your puppy just came from his own dog family to your house. Now he is surrounded by so many people and not used to being touched by these weird fingers that we have. A puppy should be comfortable being gentlly pet on his sensitive ears and paws but you will also have to prepare him for unexpected handling like a kid suddenly pulling on his tail. The vet will need to examine your puppy and you want him to be prepared for that. Things, like lifting up his tail or clipping his nails should be okay with him.
27 - Invite safe, friendly Dogs to your Home If you have friends who have friendly, healthy, vaccinated dogs, invite them to come meet your puppy at your place. Embrace the herd mentality and introduce your puppy to lots of different dogs and people. The more people and pooches they can encounter, the more likely they are to become socialized and comfortable with new experiences.
28 - Visit those Friends' Homes This is safer than letting your puppy walk in a public park or in a neighborhood where you do not know the dogs who have been there. Be sure to carry your puppy from the car into your friend's home.
29 - Explore Your Home & Backyard When you first bring your fur baby home, let him explore. And do not rush this process. Let his paws walk on and feel the difference between carpet, tile, and hardwood floors. If you have a backyard that unfamiliar dogs do not romp around in then let your unvaccinated pup experience the grass, dirt, and pavement. Let him sniff around. Watch him closely as he explores all of the new smells, sights, and sounds.
30 - Get Vaccinations Do not expose your puppy to other dogs or public places until he is had vaccinations. Most puppies will not get them until they are 15 to 16 weeks of age. You may be wondering: If the ideal window for socialization is 7 to 16 weeks, how can you safely do so?
31 - Front Porch Whether you live in a neighborhood or apartment complex, if you have a front porch or veranda then consider it a great socialization tool for your young pup. From a distance, let your puppy watch the world go by. Let him see your neighbors walking the sidewalks or working on their cars. They may see kids whizzing by on bicycles. Plus, along with the sights, your puppy may hear cars starting, bells ringing, music playing. When your puppy sees or hears something new and has a positive reaction then give him a treat and lots of praise.
32 - Visit Dog Cafe This is a nice place to get puppy meeting some other dogs. Just be sure to control the situation to prevent unnessesary accidents with another visitor's pets.
33 - Walking on the Beach If you live by the sea then this is generally considered safe as any contaminated material is likely to have been washed away. It is also a great fun place to play. Getting your dog outside and around water especially during the summer time is not only great exercise but a great exposure activity for them. Bring them around things like: Pool, hose and sprinkler, beach or lake, rain and bath time.
34 - Feeding Time To help prevent guarding of the food bowl, approach your pup while they are eating. Try to do this a few times while they are eating to prevent them getting into a habit of feeling anxious about others approaching their food.
35 - Other Animals Your pup can benefit from being socialized to bigger and smaller animals such as: Cats, different sized Dogs, Horses, Rabbits, Birds and Chickens.
36 - Puppy Socialization Party When organizing a puppy socialization party, the most important consideration is to watch the puppy's behavior and have control over the situations he is exposed to. HOW TO ORGANIZE PUPPY SOCIALIZATION PARTY
37 - The Park Try a daily walk to your local park, or your nearest dog park if your pup has a reliable recall - the dog "comes" when called. You can even "catch both rabbits", by sitting on the ground or on a bench near where children are playing. Feed Fido tasty treats while he watches the kids run and play, and hears their shouts and squeals. This will help him build positive feelings about being around children.
38 - The Great Wild Outdoors Try a short hike through your local woodlands, nature park or nature reserve. The sounds of the birds, twigs snapping and all the fascinating scents will keep Fido enthralled.
39 - Sport Events Big professional sports events are not generally dog friendly, unless you have a service animal, but local, high school and youth club sports games are. Sports events are a great opportunity for puppy socialization. The talking, cheering, shouting and all the action on the field, provide a great opportunity for puppy socialization. The suggestions above are just a few of the possibilities. When you are taking your puppy out and about use your imagination and make the most of your particular environment.
40 - Small Pets Be particularly careful when socializing a dog with a small pet, such as a rabbit or guinea pig. Start by allowing the leashed puppy to see the animal inside its secure cage, while rewarding for calm behavior. If the animal is scared or your puppy is too excited, remove him and try again another time. Over time, you may be able to gradually lengthen these meetings until eventually, the animal can be out of the cage, but the dog is still on a leash. Continue to reward calm behaviour. Ii is only when the dog has shown he is not going to chase or behave aggressively towards the animal that you should consider removing the leash. Keep in mind that some dogs may never be trustworthy around small animals. Those with high prey drives, in particular, might always chase the animal. You should also remember that this process could be terrifying for a small animal! If you see any signs of stress from either your dog or your small pet, stop the interaction. Never leave your dog alone with a small animal, even if he has not shown any signs of aggression towards your other pet.
41 - Play Socialization Games:
Pass the Puppy Divide your puppy's meal of kibble into small plastic bags, one bag for each person visiting. Before starting the game, explain to everyone how to properly hold the puppy by supporting her rear end. The first person then picks up the puppy and gives her a piece of kibble. The person touches one of her paws, gives her a piece of kibble. Touches another paw, gives a piece of kibble. Touches her ears, gives a piece of kibble. Touches her tail, gives a piece of kibble. Looks at her teeth, gives a piece of kibble. Then the person passes the puppy on to the next person, who goes through the same routine. This game teaches your puppy that it is rewarding to have people handle her.
Puppy Recalls Divide your puppy's meal of kibble into small plastic bags, one bag for each person visiting. Have everyone sit in a circle on the floor, with the puppy in the center of the circle. One person calls the puppy to come and holds out the piece of kibble. When the puppy goes to the person, she gets the kibble and lots of petting and praising. Then someone else in the circle repeats the routine. This game teaches your puppy that it is rewarding to approach people.
42 - Canine Sports Dog sports are a lot of fun when you find one your dog loves. Is your dog a runner, a herder, a ball fanatic, a swimmer, a jumper, a mover, a groover, a sniffer or a retriever? There are so many different types of canine sports, and participating in the right one can help your dog become more confident by flooding their brain with wonderful chemicals during the fun. Those feel-good chemicals get associated with the things in the environment that your pup is nervous about, like other dogs or people - helping your dog feel less nervous. Canine sports also stimulate your dog's brain, exercise their body, require focus and a relationship with you and broadens their experience, all of which can be good for a nervous dog. The two of you may never step into the ring for competition, but because of your training, your dog will be happier and more confident, and your bond will strengthen.
43 - Handling It is easy to teach your puppy to become comfortable with handling. Try to do this exercise every day for the first month. Then do it a few times a month until they are an adult. It works best after some playtime or exercise, right before they are ready for a nap. Start by sitting on the floor next to your puppy. Pick them up and gently lay them on their back in your lap. Be careful of their back when you flip them. You want to make sure your puppy feels comfortable and secure. They will probably try to flip over but do not let them. Talk calmly to your puppy and pet them to help relax them. Once they have relaxed in your lap, start to touch them in different places. I provided a list below of places to touch them but do not do everything every time you do this exercise. Pick a couple of spots to focus on each time. Remember this is supposed to be a positive experience. Stop if your puppy is really struggling and try again later. If your puppy really does not like this exercise try giving them a treat to distract them. If possible have other people you know and trust to perform the exercise as well. That way they will learn to be handled by a variety of people. HANDLING SOCIALIZATION CHECKLIST
44 - Keep up your
socialization effort for the
first year of life!
You may not manage to include everything in your first month together. Do not stop. Learning is a lifelong process and the first year is still a great period to target, it is just not quite as easy as in the first 3 months of a pups life.
PUPPY SOCIALIZATION RESOURCES & MATERIALS VIDEO TIPS & GUIDES This information courtesy of WWW.PREVENTIVEVET.COM
Socialization is a big project. It requires exposure to the types of people, animals, places, sounds and experiences that you expect your dog to be comfortable in later in life. Your puppy is constantly learning about the big wide world, and it's important to provide them with positive experiences with a variety of sounds, people, animals, surfaces, and handling while they are young so they have less fear later on in life.
This is called Proactive Exposure Training or Socialization. Start "low and slow, short and sweet" when beginning this process with your pup, meaning low volume for sounds, further distance from people or other animals, and slowly increasing the duration of the interaction depending on your dog's reaction. Being able to read your dog's body language can help you evaluate how they are feeling about what is going on around them.
Early Puppy Socialization Advice, Research, and Power Tips
Socializing a Puppy I Meeting other pups
Socializing a Puppy II Meeting an Adult Dog
Socializing a Puppy III Meeting a Children
Socializing a Puppy IV Meeting & Loving a Vet
Socializing a Puppy V Meeting a New People
Socializing a Puppy VI Teaching your Puppy to Love Being Handled
Socializing a Puppy VII Teaching your Puppy to Wear Muzzle
Socializing a Puppy VIII Conditioning your Dog to Nail Trimming
Socializing a Puppy IX Counter-Condition Grooming \ Desensitizing
In addition to exposing your puppy to a variety of experiences, people and environments, we also suggestion exposing your companion to various sounds. Since sounds are often the source of fears in dogs, getting your dog used to some noises will help prevent him from being scared of them later. How to accustom your dog to life sounds? Use the socialization sounds playlist! The audio clip below contains a variety of sounds your dog may hear during his life: car noises, thunder, lawnmower, baby crying, etc. By having your puppy regularly listen to this sounds playlist, it will gradually become accustomed to certain noises and will therefore be more confident when having real encounters with these noise for the first time.
Here is how to use the socialization sounds playlist: Play the audio clip below at a very low volume to get started.
After a few play, gradually increase the volume, never going highr than the puppy can easily cope with.
Do not leave the puppy alone while the noises are playing. Play with him and feed him treats to ensure a positive association with the noises.
Play the sounds playlist everyday until your puppy is able to accept the noises played at a volume comfortable for humans. Then continue to play the playlist once a week until your puppy is 1 year old.
Start by introducing your puppy to other humans in a comfortable environment. Your own home is ideal so that your dog is not overwhelmed by new people and a new environment at the same time. Start with family members or other people that your dog already feels relaxed around. Get your dog used to calmly going up to someone with words of encouragement like, "Go say hello to dad!" Keep repeating this exercise and be sure to reward your dog with a treat when they obey. However, do not reward actions such as jumping up on other people, barking, or any other undesirable behavior.
It is a good idea to start your puppy socialization program by aiming to meet one new person two or three times a week. Dogs are not very good at generalization, and your little guy won't necessarily recognize a very tall man with a hat as being of the same species as a short lady wearing a dress! Someone who looks different to the other people he is used to seeing, may be perceived as threatening or scary. Make sure your pup has positive experiences with all of these:
Children (including Toddlers & Babies if possible)
Teenagers and Young Adults
Handicapped People & Equipment
Men with Beards, Mustache or Facial Hair
People Wearing Hats
People with Different Color Skin and Complexion
Men with Deep Voices
Women & Children with High Voices
Women, Girls with flowing Skirts
APPROACHING YOUR PUP When people approach your puppy, it is essential that they do not bend over him, as that could be very frightening for a tiny pup. Also, do not allow people to pick the puppy up and cuddle him. That could be a very scary experience for a young puppy, especially if he is shy. Always allow your puppy to approach other people, not the other way around. Watch for signs of anxiety in your puppy such as avoiding eye contact, backing away, or clamping his tail to his backside. A happy puppy will always stand upright, probably with their tail wagging! Try not to use food when you introduce your puppy to new people as he could learn to associate people with food and may begin to scrounge or jump up.
SOCIALIZING TO MEN,
WOMEN AND CHILDREN
A good rule of thumb is to allow your puppy to meet 100 men, women and children by 16 weeks of age. Meeting the same person repeatedly does not count as the puppy will only socialize to that particular individual. Be sure to make allowances to meet different ethnic groups, different sizes and shapes and different ages of individuals. It is relatively easy to socialize a puppy to women as women are much more likely to walk right up to a strange puppy and coo and coddle him. Men are more likely to admire an adorable pup from a distance and children can sometimes be hard to find. Below are some clever places to go to find those elusive men and children. When you get there, proactively ask the men and the children to meet your puppy - now is not the time to be shy!
Children Linger in the parking lot or close to the entrance and bring treats that the children can offer to your puppy. Bring one or two small plush toys to put into the puppy's mouth while he is greeting the children to prevent him from accidentally mouthing a child.
Across the Street from any School when School is Starting or Ending
Ice Cream Shops
Entrance to Movie Theaters
Playgrounds - keep puppy at a safe distance!
Athletic Fields and Courts
Men Home Depot or Lowe's - Visit the contractor entrance early in the morning to see uniforms and lots of trucks too!
Hotels linger by the Entrance
Gyms linger by the Entrance
Sporting Goods Stores
Car, Bicycle and Motorcycle Stores
Downtown for Morning, Lunch Hours or Evening Rush Hour
People of all Shapes,
and Nationalities Open Air Shopping Centers
Outdoor Cafes and Coffee Houses
City Parks that allow leashed dogs
Hotels linger by the Entrance
The Parking Lot or Entrance of any Grocery Store or Mall
Schools and Churches - be across the street when school or church lets out and let puppy watch all the action and meet and greet the people.
PAIR PEOPLE WITH TREATS
1. - Recruit as many family members, friends and dog lovers as you can to help you.
2. - Working one at a time, have someone toss treats to your dog from a distance your dog is comfortable with whenever they are being quiet or calm. Have the person ignore your dog - other than tossing the treats, while they do this.
3. - When your dog is completely comfortable with the person at the current distance, have the person toss the treats slightly closer so that your dog must come nearer to them to get the treats. Go slow with this - gauge your dog's reactions. Avoid encouraging your dog to approach too closely before they feel comfortable to avoid any potential fear biting.
4. - When your dog willingly goes up to the person, even without the person tossing food to lure them in, the person can have your dog perform commands or tricks and reward them for their obedience with the food.
5. - Once your dog is comfortable with one person, move on to another friend and have that person practice the same training, starting from the beginning again. Your dog will need to warm up to multiple people gradually to learn that all people are safe.
6. - In general, you can also offer your dog a treat while they are calm around people they spot in public - walks are common examples of this. Keep enough space between you and the other person for your dog to be successful and remain calm. Keep your attitude calm and confident, too.
PAIR PEOPLE WITH FUN
1. - Use toys in place of treats as a reward for calm behavior around people.
2. - If your dog loves to play fetch, have a friend play with them, but you be the one to take the ball from your dog and hand it to your friend to throw again until your dog is completely comfortable with the person.
3. - If your dog enjoys walks, have a friend go on a walk with you. At first, have your friend stay far enough away for your dog to relax around them. Keep the walk structured, and reward your dog for calmness and focus on you. When your dog becomes comfortable around the person at the current distance, decrease the amount of space between your dog and the other person gradually over time. Expect this to take several sessions before the person can walk within 5 feet of your dog.
4. - If your dog has a canine buddy, let your dog watch the other dog interact with your friend. Have the other dog perform tricks and commands for your friend, play games, like fetch, with them, and go for walks with them while you follow behind with your dog.
5. - Teach your dog commands like "Say hi" and "Touch." Practice those commands with people your dog knows and have those people reward your dog heavily for obeying the commands. Once your dog can perform the new commands with friends and if your dog is only mildly shy: practice the new commands with a calm person your dog does not know. Have the new person stand still and stay calm while your dog performs the command. If your dog has any aggressive tendencies, do not practice these up-close commands yet.
Kids and puppies have lots in common: They are inquisitive, impatient, and easily excited! Puppies change as they grow up, and many puppies grow into adult dogs who are wary of children. Over 60% of dog bite victims are children! That's because dogs do not view children as miniature adults. Many dogs view children as unpredictable creatures with loud voices, jerky movements, and melodramatic emotions. Many dogs do not know what to make of children. Another scary statistic: 76% of dog bite injuries to children under age 10 are bites to the face. That's tragic. To keep your dog and of course a child, from becoming one of those statistics, you have to socialize him with children. Not only as a puppy, but as he grows through his teenage months, and on into adulthood.
Create a Safe Environment Part of socializing your dog with children means making sure all parties have a safe and calm environment. Start by prepping your home to accommodate your furry, new, family member! We have tons of tips on puppy-proofing your home and making sure it is the ideal setting for introductions and socializing.
Educate your Children Adopting a new pet into the home often means a transition for the whole family. Make the transition easier on everyone by having a conversation with your kids before bringing home your new pet. Discuss any responsibilities your children may have and teach them how to respect animals. Kids should learn about the right way to approach a new dog and how to behave around a new dog.
Socializing your Dog with Children Training your dog to be kid-friendly is a must for any pet owner, whether you have kids or not. A good rule of thumb is to always work on socializing your dog with children when everyone is in a good mood. Do not attempt to force a meeting with cranky, tired kids or dogs. Let the kids know that a dog's crate is their safe place, and that they should let the dog retreat to their crate when they need space. Overall, it is important to keep the experience a positive one, and to allow the dog the come to the children when the dog is ready.
Always Supervise! Small dogs and toy breeds are good companions for kids, but they can easily get hurt during playtime. Conversely, larger dogs are sturdy and can handle rougher playtime, but they can unintentionally hurt a child. A prime rule for socializing your dog with children is: always supervise children during playtime and never let your child pick up a small dog without your permission or supervision. Even the most gentle dogs can become stressed or scared by loud noises, sudden movements, or the occasional temper tantrum!
Take Things Slow It is important to go slow when socializing your dog with children. Even if the dog you will be adopting has lived with kids in the past, you should still make introductions slowly. The best way to socialize a dog with kids is to start early. When adopting a puppy, you can begin by training them to not jump up and to learn basic commands. This will set them up for a lifetime of good behavior.
There is much difference between infants, toddlers, preschoolers and "kids" - generally over age five. Here is how to divide up what you will allow with your own puppy:
Infants: I have to admit that I have been guilty of stalking other people's infants. It just seemed infinitely easier than having to have another baby of my own. I like my puppy to be able to see and hear babies and think nothing of them because he is busy doing something with me or just relaxing and taking in the world. I do not let him stare or get close enough to investigate the baby, of course. The baby is there - the puppy is here, all is well in the world.
Toddlers: Again, in the name of honesty, I will disclose that I avoid them like the plague if they are on the move and likely to charge at my puppy. Just the other day, I had my puppy sitting by my side watching the goings-on at a busy park path when out of nowhere, a toddler rushed us, "I am going to touch that dog!". I stepped in front of Teddy and blocked her path just as her mom scooped her up and carried her away, "You need to stop and ask! Do not rush up to dogs!". Around toddlers, my puppy gets marked for noticing them - "Yep" or click, followed by a treat and probably more click or treats as he walks away with me. Running, screaming toddlers? No big deal, let's go.
Does this sound weird or over-protective to you? "But he has to get used to toddlers so he is okay with them later! Is not that what socialization is for?" Think about it for a minute. There is nothing I want a toddler to do up close and personal with my puppy. What are the chances a 16 month old baby has a good idea? I think there is far more risk of sensitizing a puppy to being wary of toddlers if you keep rolling the dice and hoping nothing scary happens. Plus, why should toddlers be allowed to physically explore and experiment with dogs? They can have more opportunity when they are developmentally able to be successful.
Preschoolers: I like my puppy to watch preschoolers from enough distance that he is comfortable and still able to eat treats and be attentive to me. In real life, mostly you want your dog to let preschoolers do their own thing without care. Usually, puppies need at least a little bit of foundation training so they can be around exciting activity without needing to join in so I look at preschoolers as that sort of impulse control training opportunity. Do I let preschoolers "meet" my puppy? Maybe. I draw my line at the point where a child can have a reasonable conversation with me. If it is, "Doggie, Doggie, Doggie!" then it's "No, No, No!" from me. These are the very kids that need to hear, "No." And, their parents need to hear that it is not safe for kids to rush up to dogs. It does not matter if my dog is "okay" with it. The next dog might not be. Kid-Kids, Over Age Five: Kids are great! If we are talking about kids who will follow directions, that is. And, really, that's most kids if you give them clear instruction and encouragement. Kids can be a big help in puppy training and it is a nice chance to teach kids safe, kind ways of interacting with dogs.
Let the Puppy Nose His Way to the Kids Not the other way around. This can be very hard for children to understand. They can get excited when they see a dog and want to rush up and start petting it, which can provoke a reaction from the dog. Never force your puppy to interact with a child if he does not want to. Learn your puppy's body language.
Go at your Puppy's Pace If your puppy is nervous around children, it is important to build up his confidence slowly. Determine how close your puppy can be to children and still be comfortable. Begin pairing fun activities like playing or eating treats with your puppy seeing children at his comfortable distance. Gradually decrease the distance between your puppy and children as his confidence grows. If your puppy is fearful of kids, consult a professional, positive reinforcement dog trainer to help you with this process.
Fearful Period Between eight and ten weeks, a new puppy is in what's called a fearful period as he explores the world. Combine that with the fact that both children and puppies are easily excited, which may lead to misunderstandings that place both on the defensive. Slow, patient interactions leave room for everyone to learn what behavior feels fun and safe.
Always Be Present Until you are sure that the puppy and the child know how to behave around each other. Be observant and ready to step in if a situation looks like it is going wrong. You do not want your puppy to accidentally harm your child or vice versa. If you have to leave the room, put your puppy away in a child or puppy proof area - like his kennel.
Respect your Pups Space Zones Teach your children that dogs have zones of space that should be respected. There is a public zone, a social zone, and an intimate zone. The intimate zone is a place your puppy can go to get away for some quite time, we all need it, so does your puppy. Respect that space.
Know When to Back Off Know when to walk away from a situation that could be detrimental to the socialization process. If you know your puppy will get too excited, or that a child is going to be too much for your puppy, kindly and in some cases firmly say "no" and move away.
Approaching your Puppy Model the way that you want your kids to approach your pup, it is best to call the pup to you, rather than approaching the pup. Once they learn this at home, they will understand the safe way to approach others dogs, too.
Include the Kids on your Walks Your child will help you teach the puppy to obey and follow your and your child's lead. These early lessons will nurture and strengthen a healthy owner - dog relationship as both child and puppy mature.
Have your Kids Help you Take Care of the Puppy Having a dog is a great way to set rules for your children and teach them about responsibilities. Depending on the age of your kids, they should be able and expected to walk the puppy, feed him, and clean up after him under supervision, this will help the dog to bond to the children and to be respected. Both children and puppies learn by doing.
Over-socialization or Unpleasant Socialization Can be just as bad as insufficient socialization. Taking your puppy to the local soccer game and letting 10 children pet him at once may be overwhelming, and in some cases actually undermine the socialization process. Sit in an area where you can monitor how many children approach your puppy and end the session before your puppy can get overwhelmed or over stimulated.
Never Allow Kids to Pick up, Hug, or Heavily Pet your Puppy Puppies that are exposed to this can learn that children are no fun and the best thing to do is avoid them all together or worse.
Do Not Allow your Puppy to Interact Roughly with Kids When kids are running or wrestling, redirect your puppy with some obedience work, a game, an interactive toy, or put him away in a puppy-proof area that your child cannot access to prevent him from practicing bad behavior such as nipping, chasing, biting.
Never Punish your Puppy for Growling or Snapping at a Child Instead, seek professional advice as soon as possible. You may do more harm than good by trying to correct this behavior yourself. Get help from a qualified professional dog trainer - the sooner you can put your puppy on-track, the better as the longer you let an issue fester, the worse it will get making it harder to correct.
Knowledge is the Power! Prepare for the arrival of your new puppy in advance by researching, reading books and most important, enroll your puppy in a local puppy class where you will get sound advice on training and socializing - do not forget to bring the kids!
A good rule of thumb is to have your puppy meet a minimum of 50 dogs by the time he is 16 weeks of age. The best way for a puppy to learn to interact with other dogs is to spend time with them.
When Puppies Meet
Sometimes it is really hard to find appropriate adults for puppies to play with. As a result, many puppies have trouble learning how to play appropriately, show deference to adults, and back off. At all costs, avoid play dates with Cujo wanna-bes, which sounds easier than it actually is. Some people are utterly clueless about their dog's social graces, or lack thereof. You have to screen the other dog and be realistic. If the adult has a history of not liking other dogs, introducing him to a puppy will not miraculously make it better. After asking how social the potential playmate is with other dogs, it is also important to inquire about his play style. Does he play roughly? Is he mouthy? Is he a chaser? - Breed-specific temperament differences, as well as size differential, are important, too! Finally, absolutely, positively no dog parks, which can be magnets for undersocialized dogs of all ages and their benign, but dangerously clueless, owners.
Daily Walks Are Key!
Just taking your dog out to a public place and walking around will help him grow more comfortable with the world and people around him. From cars driving down the street to the mailman, the world becomes a little bit less scary once you have been around the block a time or two. Keep your buddy on a short leash and get your exercise on there is a lot to see and plenty to smell. Take different routes, allowing your buddy the chance to meet new friends and experience a wide variety of sights. Expose your dog to a wide variety of people, from men and women to children, so he can get acclimated to the idea of people, who are much bigger. The idea is that if your dog only ever hangs out with one person, he may grow wary of anyone that is not that person, so it is crucial to diversify your dog's social calendar and make time for meet and greets.
Stay calm and confident if your dog acts scared. Do not push, but do not make a big deal out of skittish behavior, either.
Ensure that people pet your dog where their hands can be seen, like on your dog's chest or chin.
Use treats to give your dog a positive association with new people and experiences.
Go back to the basics. A dog who is confident with their training and routine makes for a well-rounded pooch.
Enlist a dog walker or drop-in pet sitter to give your dog exposure to different caregivers during the day.
Stock up on Treats
Most dogs will do anything for a treat, so it is handy to have a stash of these to keep your dog on his best behavior. Anytime your dog has a successful interaction with another dog, what do you do? You guessed it give them a treat! This encourages positive social behavior. Tasty, high-value treats will get more mileage the dog is crazy for freeze-dried raw treats, but you will know your dog's preferences best. String cheese, bits of cooked chicken, or small pieces of a hardboiled egg are typically very popular with dogs. Just adjust your dog's calorie intake at mealtime to compensate for the extra calories at snack time.
Go to Dog Park or Shop
Let your bright-eyed and bushy-tailed buddy have a lap around the park and make the rounds. If you are confident about recall, try an off-leash park, or set up a playdate at a friend's place with their dog. If you are short on compostable poop bags or that doggy shampoo that smells so good, hit the store with your dog in tow to check out the goings-on. He might just make a new friend! You are also likely to meet other dog people in your neighborhood, which can set the stage for puppy playdates later on.
Follow Your Dog's Cues
Make sure interactions are long enough to get acquainted, but not so long as to wear your buddy out. Spend too much time together and you might start to notice things you never noticed before for better or for worse.
Exercise The Caution
Introducing a three pound Chihuahua to a Great Dane might sound adorable, but remember to exercise caution when introducing dogs. Always make sure the other party is friendly before facilitating a meet and sniff. Know the signs of discomfort in your dog - excessive panting, yawning, tail between the legs and act accordingly.
Remember: practice makes perfect and the more successful interactions your dog has with his brethren, the easier it will get.
Socializing your dog with other dogs is very important. You want a dog to be able to interact peacefully with a variety of dogs, especially if you are considering bringing a second dog into your home. Socializing an adult dog can be more difficult than socializing a puppy. You will have to start with small interactions with other dogs. Make sure to reinforce positive behavior, and address negative behaviors appropriately. An adult dog may never be fully social or playful with other dogs, but with some dedication you can teach an adult dog to behave in the presence of other animals.
Start with an interaction with a single dog A socially mature dog, which is a dog between one and three years, will not enjoy playing in a large group of dogs if it is already socialized. Something like a dog park would be overwhelming for your dog. You should start with small, structured interactions with a single dog. Find a friend or family member with a dog that's appropriately socialized and take your dogs on a walk together. Find a friend with a gentle, easygoing dog. Have the dogs meet in a neutral location and then walk them together, keeping them at an appropriate distance. If the dogs seem calm and well-behaved on their walk, allow them to gently sniff and interact with one another. If any aggressive behavior occurs, talk to both dogs in a soothing voice until they calm down. After awhile, the two dogs may get to the point that their bodies and their tails are wagging in one another's presence. At this point, you can let them play together in an off-leash setting like a fenced in yard.
Vary walking routes to meet new dogs Part of the socialization process is introducing your dog to a variety of new animals and situations. Taking the same walking route each day will limit your dog's experiences. Take a different walking route each day so your dog can see new sights, smells, and dogs. Try a lot of different types of environments. A dog should be calm and well-behaved in a variety of places. Try sidewalks, walking paths, dirt roads, and concrete. Vary the amount of activity. Take your dog through a quiet neighborhood one day and a busy part of your city another day. If possible, drive to an entirely different neighborhood certain days.
Consider a dog park, if it is a safe option Dog parks can be a great opportunity for a dog to socialize. However, your adult dog may not have been previously socialized. In this case, a dog park may cause it anxiety. If you know your dog has been previously socialized as a puppy, it may benefit from a trip to the dog park. You may not know a lot about your dog's history, especially if you got it at a shelter. If you are unsure whether your dog was previously socialized, keep an eye on its body language at a dog park. Keep your dog on a leash at the park until you get a read of its reactions. If your dog stays close to you, avoids other dogs, and growls at any point, a dog park is probably not a safe environment for it. Your dog may not have been previously socialized with other dogs, and may dislike being in large groups of dogs. In this case, you should avoid dog parks as a means of socialization. Stick to controlled interactions with individual dogs.
Remove your dog from situations if it becomes aggressive or nervous Barking, growling, and other aggressive behaviors are frequently thought of as a way of exerting dominance. Therefore, many people are inclined to punish these behaviors. However, these are actually fear-based behaviors. If your dog becomes aggressive during the socialization process, remove it from the situation and calm it down. This is more effective than punishment. Try to distract your dog when it barks at another animal. Call your dog's name or use a treat or a toy as a diversion. Remove the dog from the situation. Get it at a safe distance from the other animal. From here, talk to your dog in a soothing voice until it calms down. Once your dog is calm, return it to the situation.
Praise your dog for remaining calm Positive reinforcement works better than punishment when you are socializing a dog. When you walk your dog, especially in new environments, praise your dog.
Remember, an older dog may never be entirely friendly or enthusiastic about other dogs. The goal is to reward calm behavior and not necessarily playful behavior. On a walk, each time your dog passes another dog without incident, praise your dog. Offer verbal praise and also give your dog a small pat on the head. You do not need to encourage your dog to interact with each dog it meets. This is not necessarily an effective form of socialization. Leash interactions can be stressful for both dogs. Simply work on getting your dog to walk by without incident.
Offer treats as a reward Treats or food are a great way to reward your dog for positive behavior. In situations where you are likely to bring other dogs, bring a bag of small treats. Each time your dog behaves in the presence of another dog, reward it with a small treat. Offer verbal praise as well. Remember to reward right away. Dogs live in the immediate. You need to make sure they understand why they are being rewarded.
Stay calm when your dog gets aggressive or nervous Socialization of an adult dog can be difficult. It will take awhile for your dog to remain calm in the presence of other animals. In the event your dog gets aggressive or nervous, the worst thing you can do is panic. The dog will interpret your anxiety as a sign it is right to be afraid. Try to remain calm in the face of aggressive behavior. A dog needs to assess a situation for itself and determine how to react. If you react before your dog has a chance to, you will affect its behavior. Do not change your behavior at all when you near another dog. Avoid tensing up your body, tightening the leash, or talking to the dog in a nervous voice. Keep walking as you were before and let your dog choose how it reacts. In the event your dog does become aggressive, remember not to punish it. Simply remove your dog from the situation until it calms down.
Consider professional training It is not easy to socialize an adult dog. This is especially true if your dog has other behavioral issues. If you are struggling to socialize your dog, professional training may be beneficial. You can either join a group class, designed to socialize dogs, or have one on one sessions with a dog trainer. Make sure you find a trainer that applies positive reinforcement as a training technique.
Do not punish a dog for being scared Fear-based behaviors will only be reinforced with punishment. Displays of aggression such as growling are almost always due to fear. Punishment will only reinforce your dog's belief it needs to be afraid. Instead of punishing your dog, offer an alternative command. For example, immediately say, "Sit" when your dog begins barking or growling at another dog. Avoid putting your dog in situations where it may get scared. Do not force a dog to approach a friend or family member's dog if it appears nervous.
Be on the lookout for aggressive or fearful behavior Socialization can be stressful for adult dogs. As you socialize your dog, be vigilant for aggressive or fearful behavior. Socialization is only successful if it is a pleasant experience for you and your dog. If a dog is scared, you should not push the situation. For example, you bring your dog to a friend's house to meet another dog. Your dog stays close to your side, and its body appears tense. Your dog is not enjoying itself. You may want to separate the dogs and try again when your dog is more calm. If your dog has negative experiences during the socialization process, this can reverse some progress.
Start young if possible Ideally, the socialization process should start when your dog is a puppy. Puppies are generally less fearful and tend to respond to new situations with curiosity rather than fear. A puppy may be more easygoing somewhere like a dog park than an adult dog. If you do get your dog when its still a puppy, begin socialization as soon as possible.
Understand an adult dog may never learn to play with other dogs Many people adopt adult dogs from shelters. These dogs may or may not have been socialized as puppies. If your dog has not been previously socialized, it may never be enthusiastic about playing with other dogs. Keep your expectations realistic. Strive to keep your dog calm and non-aggressive in front of animals rather than overtly friendly and playful.
HOW TO SOCIALIZE A NERVOUS DOG: 12 TIPS This information courtesy of WWW.PETHELPFUL.COM and Kristin Kaldahl
Nose to nose greetings between dogs should be no longer than 3 seconds, especially while on the leash, where neither dog can get away. Anything longer than 3 seconds gives the dogs a chance to get past the initial taking in of information and move on to sizing each other up and competing, which can lead to fights. If your dog is very shy, avoid nose to nose greetings at first. Instead, focus on pack walks and practicing obedience with other dogs in sight until your dog's confidence and relaxation around other dogs improves.
Once your dog is confident enough to meet others nose to nose, be careful which dogs you let them meet. Do not be afraid to be picky and tell well meaning caretakers of less than friendly or overly rambunctious dogs that your dog can not meet, is in training or is afraid of other dogs. Protect your pet from potentially dangerous or overwhelming situations that could set back your training efforts. Look for dogs who are calm, friendly and attentive to their people for your dog to greet. A good greeting is relaxed, brief and mutual, where each dog allows the other to sniff the behind and front. This caution is wise when socializing a puppy.
1. Visit a local pet superstore that allows canine customers. Many metro areas have several of these stores, and frequent visits will expose your puppy to new smells, different surfaces, people and other pets.
2. Visit your vet without an appointment. This will teach your dog that not all trips to the vet involve needles and examinations. Plus your pup will meet new people and animals.
3. Visit your local parks. Parks can provide your pet with a wide array of new experiences, including discovering how much fun children can be. However be warned, going off leash in a park is a very bad idea. You lose control of the environment, and your puppy could soon find itself dealing with a very scary and emotionally scaring socialization time instead of a positive, happy one.
4. Obedience classes are great places to socialize puppies. Chose a class that caters to your dog's specific age group. Puppy classes are great for the young ones while the older dogs can benefit greatly from a basic obedience class, even if they already know some of the commands. Also be sure to chose a positive reinforcement trainer so that training class is full of fun and not scary corrections.
5. Visit the country. Farm smells, horses, cows, different surfaces to walk on and unique plant life to explore are all great socialization opportunities. Remember, always do this on lead. Do not succumb to the temptation to let the dog go free, as danger lurks just around the bend, ruining all of your good socialization attempts.
6. Visit the city. Walks in urban areas are also great opportunities for puppies to get out and about and learn how to handle the big world. Traffic, people, dogs, different surfaces such as concrete, asphalt or gravel are only some of the thousands of new stimulus that await your dog on a walk in the city. A note though: A walk in the city might be left best to the bold, confident pups. The high level of activity in the urban core might overwhelm the emotionally softer puppies. And, as always, keep the pup on-lead.
7. Visit the suburbs. Again, a different environment that provides a different experience for a new puppy, a walk in the burbs is a great way to introduce new things in a calmer setting.
8. Hardware stores often allow people to bring their well behaved dogs into the stores. These places offer unique smells, people and surfaces.
9. Willing friends' homes and back yards are great places to socialize the pup. Enclosed, safe back yards also allow the pup the opportunity to roam and learn off-lead. Make sure that all dogs with access to the home and yard are up to date on vaccinations before letting your pup explore.
10. Supervised visitation time with vaccinated, well-trained, friendly adult dogs is a great way to let your pup learn about other dogs. It is recommended that these visits be on-lead unless an experienced dog trainer is present to watch and control outbursts before they happen.
11. Set up play dates with children. Many puppies who are not raised around children can develop a fear of them. It is wise to socialize your puppy to youngsters who are old enough to play properly with a puppy. Of course, the visit will need to be supervised by an adult, and while a puppy is generally safe with children, an older dog may not like children.
12. The one place that should be avoided when socializing a pup is dog parks. Unfortunately, a dog park leaves the owner with little control over the environment. A puppy can be overwhelmed when quickly surrounded by other rambunctious dogs. Also unfortunately, owners with dogs with aggressions often think dog parks are a great way for them to socialize their dogs. This falacious thinking has cause many, many terrible incidents to occur in dog parks. It is recommended they be avoided during socialization, if not all together.
HOW TO SOCIALIZE AN ANXIOUS DOG OR PUPPY This information courtesy of WWW.4KNINES.COM and Janet Finlay
So, with puppy socialization, quality is every bit as important as quantity. Yes, we want them to experience lots of things in that primary socialization window before about 12 weeks old, but those experiences must be good ones or we risk doing more harm than good. When we are dealing with an older, already-anxious dog, it is even more important that we manage the experiences they have carefully.
No dog will learn to be comfortable with something by being "thrown in at the deep end". They need to learn slowly and safely that the things that worry them are not so scary after all. So, with anxious dogs, quality of experience is even more important than quantity.
You will be more successful if you plan carefully in advance. Write down all the things that your dog is concerned about.
Be specific. Are they only scared close up or is it also at a distance? Does the size of the dog or the age of the human or the type of vehicle that is passing make a difference?
Think about where you can go to see these scary things in a controlled way. Is there a park where you can watch dogs play from the safety of your car? Where can you stand to watch children coming out of school without your dog being approached? Is there a road where you can start walking well away from the traffic?
Put together a plan for all the things you want your dog to experience and the ways you can do this safely. What? Where? When? Who? How? And once you have a plan, DO NOT be distracted from it by well-meaning but misguided strangers or friends who tell you that you are doing it all wrong, that your dog needs to "face his fears" or that he is scared because you coddle him. Just smile and stick to your plan.
DO start with distance. Distance is your friend. Always start further away from the scary thing than you think you need to be. Far better that and for your dog to be calm and happy than to accidentally get too close and for your dog to freak out! Start working further away than you need and move closer very gradually, as your dog becomes more comfortable.
DO NOT be tempted to move too quickly. Take your time - it is not a race. Only move closer when your dog is really relaxed and comfortable.
DO make experiences positive. The golden rule is that great things appear every time they see the scary thing. Choose the best thing ever for your dog – roast chicken, playing an exciting game, whatever they love most and keep it just for these occasions. If you do this consistently then they will start to associate the scary thing with getting that amazing thing that they love and, after a while, it will not be scary anymore.
DO NOT force interaction.Never make your dog approach another dog or person, that will not ever help them feel comfortable. Always let your dog choose if they want to interact with someone or something, or not.
DO take breaks. Experiencing new things is tiring. Learning is exhausting. So work in short sessions and take lots of breaks. Your dog needs time to process all the information they are taking in. It is your job to make sure they get it.
And DO NOT be afraid to speak up if you need to protect your dog when they need space.
Tell people what your dog needs. Be prepared to say "No" to requests to meet your dog if you do not think it is right for them. It is far better to risk offending a stranger than to risk a set back with your dog!
DO choose your moments. This is something to do when you yourself are feeling relaxed and on the ball. You need your wits about you so that you can make sure your dog feels safe. You need to be calm and focused and be able to give all your attention to your dog. So this is not the thing to do when you get in from a stressful day at work or when you are in a hurry because you are running late for your next appointment.
DO NOT feel you have to do this every single day. Getting frustrated with your dog will not help and is much more likely to happen if you are stressed yourself. Take time out when you need it. Spend quality time with your dog at home instead or go and walk with them where you will not encounter the scary things.
Shy puppies need more help! Carry your puppy when necessary to avoid unwanted contact from other dogs or soiled areas. Different puppies have different sensitivities - some are easy to socialise and some take a little more effort. Genetics plays a large part here, through what the puppy has inherited from their parents - nervous mums are more likely to have nervous puppies and breed type. Puppies from herding breeds, such as collies and German shepherd dogs, tend to be more prone to fearfulness and need more and earlier socialisation than other breeds.
You may also have an older puppy that missed out on a lot of early experiences. Whatever the reason, shy or nervous puppies are likely to need a lot more extra support during this really important time in their lives. Let shy puppies take their time as forcing them into many situations is counterproductive. It is good to let shy puppies "watch the world" from a distance at first and as you begin to see them relax you will be able to gradually increase their level of exposure.
Take time to help your pet work through fears around people with the help of others. Give your dog opportunities to develop good associations with other dogs, while protecting them from scary or overwhelming situations. Work on building your dog's overall confidence through training, canine sports, boundaries and clear leadership. Undoing years of possible poor socialization can be difficult. Depending on the kind of life your dog lived before adoption, these steps may take days, weeks or months.
What Causes Shyness in a Dog? When you see a shy rescue dog cowering behind their person, it is easy to assume the dog was abused in the past. Although abuse is one cause of fear in a dog, shyness can also be caused by one or more of the following:
Genetics Dogs have inherited personality traits comprising their hormones, brain chemistry, neurological wiring and so much more. Shyness in a dog, just like fear and aggression, can be an inherited, hardwired trait. The inheritability of temperament traits is one reason it is so important to buy puppies only from reputable, ethical breeders. A good breeder carefully chooses the parents based on sound health and good temperament - making it less likely that poor genetic traits are passed down to the puppies.
Lack of Socialization During the first year of life, puppies experience several developmental periods where they learn about the world around them and how to respond to it. The first period takes place before 8 weeks of age, in the neonatal state of development. The next happens at 8-16 weeks of age, and this is one the most crucial stages, according to many behaviorists. After that, several intermittent fear periods take place, where a puppy further learns what is safe and what to avoid in life. These highly sensitive times are crucial for puppy development. It is not good for puppies to miss out on positive experiences that can help them learn about the world around them and form bonds with humans and other dogs. A lack of positive interactions with people, other dogs, new environments, noises, sights and other experiences can lead to shyness and an inability to adapt to new things. Many dogs are genetically prone to shyness and then also are not socialized, which makes the problem even worse.
Abuse or Trauma Hitting a dog, neglecting a dog or keeping a dog in a constant state of fear can certainly lead to shyness. The same goes for trauma stemming from incidents such as dog fights or injuries. If trauma or abuse happens during a key developmental period or fear period, your dog will tend to respond fearfully toward the world around them even more than if the experience happened later in life. When your dog is already genetically prone toward shyness or is not socialized while young, abuse or trauma can be especially hard for your dog to overcome.
BE A DEPENDABLE LEADER! Have you ever been in a situation where you wondered, How do you comfort a scared dog? If so, you are not alone. Many people feel helpless while asking that same question. The natural tendency is to pet, cuddle and talk softly to your shy dog. That is typically the way we humans want to be cared for when we feel afraid. Dogs need something a bit different, though. Your dog looks to your body language, demeanor and instruction to decide on how to respond in many uncertain situations. What they need most from you is clear direction, confidence and help focusing on something other than their fears.
1. If they start to worry about another dog down the street, then instead of comforting them, break out into song and dance and get them excited about the experience. You might feel silly, but watch as your dog's body language changes from tense to happy and relaxed.
2. As a leader, put clear boundaries and rules in place for your dog. Be consistent and enforce the rules.
3. Work on increasing their independence with "Place," "Stay" and distance commands. Give your dog opportunities to work through their fears in an environment with enough structure and control that they can succeed.
It can be hard to watch your restless dog hold a "Stay" when they do not want to, but let them learn that they can and then calmly reward them when they succeed.
Believe in your dog and help them succeed !
MANAGE INTERACTIONS Timid dogs have an even greater need for leadership, and they take a lot of their cues for how to behave and feel from the other dogs and people around them. Providing a shy dog with clear direction, leadership and protection can help them feel more at ease and prevent fears from becoming worse while you work to address them.
Protect your dog from overwhelming situations. Pay careful attention to your dog's tolerance level. Work at that level, challenging your dog slightly more as they improve. While helping your dog overcome fears in controlled situations, protect them from scary, uncontrolled situations. If your dog is afraid of people, crowds of kids trying to pet them would be overwhelming. If your dog is afraid of other dogs, a face to face encounter with another pooch would probably be too much for them.
Once your dog improves, avoid the temptation to put them in situations that could undo your hard work. For example, if your dog used to be afraid of other dogs, then do not go to the dog park, where a fight might break out. Instead, pursue calm, controlled interactions with other dogs.
Teach commands and give your dog direction when they are in uncertain situations. If you tune into your dog's body language, you will often notice a few seconds of indecision happening before your dog reacts fearfully. In those few seconds, tell them what to do or think. You can do this by giving a command such as "Heel" or "Watch me." You can turn their attention to something else or help them relax by acting silly and confident yourself. Pull out your best silly dance moves and a fun tune to help your dog feel happy again when things start to get tense.
Have your dog work for things in life by performing commands before receiving things they want. Add more structure to their day by making them wait for a meal, wait before exiting an open crate, stay on a dog bed while you leave the room and generally follow house rules. Structure and predictability are important for insecure dogs. It builds confidence to understand what you are asking of the dog, and to understand the consequences.
How to Help a Fearful Dog
Many shy dogs lack confidence in general. Your dog might be afraid of children, other dogs, strange or loud noises, new places or something else. Building your dog's overall confidence can have a huge impact on their ability to adapt to new situations and relax in life. Shy dogs are typically just as intelligent as other dogs once you get them out of their shells. Try to find what motivates your pup: Do they love food, toys, praise, walks or swimming? Use the things your dog loves to motivate them during training. Be patient and recognize that it might take your dog longer to learn tricks and commands if they feel frightened.
You may need to go slow, especially when practicing new commands around other people or animals or in new locations. You may need to adapt the training to make it gentler or more structured for your dog - many shy dogs do well with a lot of structure and clear guidance. The more you teach your dog, the more confident, able to learn and relaxed they will generally become. Recognize that the training is new for them, so try to believe in their potential to learn and persevere with them. Doing so will also build their trust and respect for you.
Pack walks are a great tool in learning how to socialize a shy dog. Watch your pup carefully and pay attention to the distance they need between them and another dog to remain calm. Go on walks with other people or walking groups, but keep far enough away from others for your dog to stay relaxed. After your dog has gone on enough walks with others to be completely relaxed during the walk, gradually decrease the distance between your pup and others. Take it slow, and watch your dog's body language to gauge the proper distance. Keep your dog's attention on you during these walks. The walks should be structured with your dog in the heel position and focusing on you. If your dog can respond calmly to treats or praise, give them to your dog when they are acting calm, focusing on you or heeling.
Have a go at trying canine sports with your shy dog. They are a lot of fun when you find one your dog loves. Is your dog a runner, a herder, a ball fanatic, a swimmer, a jumper, a mover, a groover, a sniffer or a retriever? There are so many different types of canine sports, and participating in the right one can help your dog become more confident by flooding their brain with wonderful chemicals during the fun.
Those feel-good chemicals get associated with the things in the environment that your pup is nervous about, like other dogs or people - helping your dog feel less nervous. Canine sports also stimulate your dog's brain, exercise their body, require focus and a relationship with you and broadens their experience, all of which can be good for a nervous dog. The two of you may never step into the ring for competition, but because of your training, your dog will be happier and more confident, and your bond will strengthen. Some canine sports options include:
Allow your shy puppy the freedom and time to make friends at their own speed. Never pull your puppy towards a stranger, or pick your puppy up and hand them over to someone. It is best not to overly encourage a shy puppy to creep forward to take food from a stranger's hand - some dogs will take food even when scared and it may bring them "closer" to very thing they are scared of. They may then panic once there, which is not a good learning experience. If the unfamiliar person crouches down, avoids strong eye contact and after a while throws a few titbits gently on the floor around the puppy, they may soon become comfortable enough to explore and venture closer.
Even if the puppy sniffs the stranger, it is best they do not touch at first, instead ask them to talk gently and wait for the puppy to make all the first moves. Stroking should only take place once the puppy is showing confident and relaxed behaviour and always take regular breaks to allow the puppy to move away should it want to. Shy puppies need to be handled with care to ensure they gain adequate experience and make up for lost time, but do not become overwhelmed in the process. It is worth making a special effort to help them overcome fears while still young and adaptable enough to change.
Understanding the reasons for your dog's aggressive personality is the foundation of working towards an effective solution. There is no such thing as a "bad dog" and if anything, the way your dog exhibits his behavior is much more matter of fact than humans! That being said, there is still a variety of reasons why dogs can become volatile. The tension between two or more dogs is pretty usual.
Dog on dog aggression is a typical behavior problem that pet owners and trainers deal with. The reason is that during their growth, dogs are deprived of socialization with other dogs. As a result, many fluffy pets grow up with no social skills and are not able to read other dogs' signals. Socializing an aggressive dog is not easy. But as long as you follow our tips, you will be able to see a significant difference in your dog's behavior. Never assume that aggression is developed in the early years. It is actually much more likely that dogs who experience periods of extreme stress at any stage of their life can suddenly change their character for the worse.
Dogs that may not be physically harmed, but instead just ignored, are at great risk of becoming antisocial. From their perspective, they may have simply given up on groveling or whining for attention. So instead, what they do is focus on behaving badly because they know it is the only way that they will get attention.Living with an aggressive dog is not easy. You might feel stressed, scared, or embarrassed by your dog's behavior. You are not alone in wanting to understand why your dog is acting aggressively.
Aggression does not always come from a lack of socialization, but undersocialized dogs are at increased risk of aggression. Other factors that may contribute to making a dog aggressive include: Breed, Genetics and Adverse Life Experience. Adverse life experiences may include being abused, but keep in mind that most shelter dogs are undersocialized, not abused. Any combination of these three factors, plus poor socialization, can create an aggressive dog.
Introduce your Dog
Going regularly to the dog park will make sure your puppy meets other dogs. This is the perfect opportunity to practice proper behavior. Daily dog walks will calm your furry friend.
Shouting Does Not Help Shouting at your dog will naturally invoke a stress reaction. This can result in two very contrary reactions. Firstly, some dogs will become so stressed out by this that they will bark even more at both yourself and other dogs or people. Others may learn that displaying their unease leads to a verbal scolding, so will instead adopt appear calm even when their stress levels are at an all-time high. In the worst case scenario, your dog can become prone to suddenly attacking other dogs seemingly out of the blue.
Do Not be Harsh! Disciplining your fluffy friend for being aggressive is essential. However, you should not be frightening. Try to remain calm in any situation where your dog shows aggression.
Take The Lead
When Introducing Dogs Ultimately the key is for you to feel comfortable that your dog is going to be relaxed around others. Many owners become extremely frustrated that no matter how much they try, the mere sight of a distant dog is going to send their pet into a barking fit. So a tried and tested technique is for you to take the lead. Owners come up with all kinds of names for this so for this example we will opt for "cheery times!". The moment another dog is sighted, make sure you become especially chirpy and playful with your dog. Offer treats, adopt a cheery voice and scrub or pat their favorite spots. When the dog sees that you are totally chilled out and happy about the other dog's presence. He will in time, adopt a similar attitude.
Dog's Triggers Is it other dogs? Men with beards? Loud children? If you know what sets your pup off, it can shed some light on the training or socialization department. It is also important to recognize how aggressive they become when one of these triggers sets them off.
Train your dog
with a muzzle You may feel that muzzling your dog is cruel, but the reality is that aggressive dogs bite and owners are not safe in this case.
The Passer-By One variety of this technique is "the passer-by". It involves tying your dog securely to a post - this may not be suitable if the dog is not used to it and standing beside. A training partner and their dog should be waiting out of sight around a corner. About 30 yards or so ought to be fine. After a couple of minutes time them to emerge slowly and immediately start "cheery times!" with your dog and giving them treats. The other pair should keep their distance and just pass out of sight. Over time, gradually bring them closer together until eventually, the other dog will be able to pass right by without raising a reaction. It can take months to reach this stage but proximity training is an essential component to calming any dogs aggressive tendencies.
Change Your Behavior If you have not done it already, it is vital to change your behavior. Dogs see their owners as families, which is why they become so protective. If your dog senses you are nervous or scared, it will imitate your behavior and will take your anxiety as a sign that a threat is coming. When you see your dog act happy and apprehensively, give your dog a sense of support and confidence.
Have a Routine All dog owners should have a walking routine. A routine will calm your dog and help him socialize more easily. Take your furry friend to growl classes Little assistance while learning how to socialize an aggressive dog is proven to be very useful. Find classes that can teach your fluffy friend how to interact with others of its kind.
Support Social Activities Introducing your dog to new activities will help a lot in teaching him to be calm. Do not rush into anything; take it one step at a time. One social activity each week is enough to notice positive changes. This will help your dog to see the experience he could be having and show him how a proper behavior looks like.
Get Professional Help Sometimes, your attempt to fix your dog behavior will fail. If you do not know what to do next, getting professional advice could be the solution you need. It is recommendable to consult with a professional, primarily if your furry friend used to be calm before. No owner should like having to take their dog to Aggression Training, yet there is a good deal of evidence that specialist training groups can work wonders for aggressive dogs. The idea behind this is to provide your dog with a more immersive experience where he can interact with a large number of other dogs on a regular basis. It can be stressful at first. But over time, your dog will become more familiar with others around him. Just be careful to make sure your dog does not become overwhelmed by the whole experience. And if he does start acting up, take him away for a break and let him calm down. Your dog will come to understand that other dogs need not pose any threat. But once again it is impossible to set any general timeline on how long that may take.
There are 4 stages to this which need to be planned out in advance and religiously stuck to. Treats are only ever awarded when the dog exhibits good behavior:
Stage 1 - Allow a month for the dog to learn that treats are now a reward and not a privilege. They are never to be given for the sake of it - only when it is demonstrating consistently good behavior. Some trainers refer to this stage as shaping.
Stage 2 - The next stage is to try and desensitize the stress that the dog experiences when close to others. Usually, this is done by standing a good distance away from another - on the leash of course, and rewarding with treats for every yard or so that they get closer without demonstrating aggressive tendencies. Depending on your dog, this can take days or months of practice. But the objective is for them to become not just used to the other dog, but to associate this as a form of good behavior that you will reward.
Stage 3 - When you are at the stage where you can essentially walk up very close to another dog using only a couple of treats, it is time to attempt counter conditioning. Essentially this means pairing up in the company with a by now familiar other dog & owner and going for a walk. Keep a distance to begin with and take it easy, but make this a regular routine - ideally daily. Award treats only when your dogs are very close to each other, taking particular care the first few times you try it.
Stage 4 - Continue training your dog to obey other commands. Seeing as many aggressive dogs tend to also be generally disobedient, further training will help to reinforce that good behavior equals rewards. These may be verbal cues such as "sit" or more advanced instructions. But even dogs who learn the principles quickly will still likely be prone to the occasional outburst. So using non-physical behavior such as turning your back or stopping still during a walk. Trust me, it will get the message over in time. And remember, never lose your cool and resort to yanking the leash or shouting.
HOW TO SOCIALIZE A RESCUE DOG This information courtesy of WWW.FUZZYRESCUE.ORG and Becky Roberts
You have just adopted a rescue dog, and you are getting along great. However, every time someone visits or you take him for walks, and he meets other people or dogs, he starts acting out. You have seen other dogs act out and you might think this is just something dogs do and it's not. Dogs are social creatures. They descend from wolves, and they are meant to live in a pack. You have seen videos with wolves playing like puppies. They are meant, when no external threat is present, to be friendly and active. So, how come your dog either hides or charges when he sees other dogs or even people when he is such a cuddle beggar around you? A rescue dog's history differs from one dog to another. It could include abuse or encouragement to act out. Helping him overcome these obstacles is now your responsibilities, but how do you do that?
Gentle Accommodation Whether you want your dog to be more sociable with other people or dogs, gradually introducing him to these elements is essential. For people, even though you probably can not wait to show him to all your family members and friends, limit yourself to one person per week. Make sure the encounter takes place at home, where your dog has grown comfortable. Instruct the person arriving to keep their distance, but have some treats ready. Allow the dog to explore this "new element" and give him time. If meeting other dogs is the challenge, the same routine needs to occur, but this time, in neutral territory. Take your dog next to a dog park, but do not enter. Allow him to observe from a distance and ignore any weird behavior, such as fear or anger. Once your dog is calm, pet him and offer him a treat. This way, he will not associate his deviant behavior to the treat, but his calm response, and will repeat it.
Focus on One Aspect Only! Your dog might have issues with different things: your vacuum, other pet cats, other dogs, and other people. You would want him to adapt as soon as possible to the stressing factors above or any other issues specific to him. You are aware though that it is not possible. That's why it is essential to choose one target at a time and STICK to it. If you have set your mind to help your dog overcome his fear of larger dogs, focus on that until you are confident this issue is solved. Focusing on only one aspect of a dog's social life will give him confidence in his social skills. You will see that, even if you have a long line of stress factors, you need to work against, the next one will be easier to overcome than the last, and so on.
Your Dog is a Teenager You heard that right. Even if you adopt an elderly dog, which is usually calmer, he will try to show off. That means acting out and barking. Even if he has been on his best behavior in this socializing journey, he will act out. The best thing you can do is to ignore him. Do not scold him while it happens, and do not reward him after the behavior stops. Just let him be, if he poses no real threat, of course and get on with your activity.
Listen to Your Dog Even though you are making great efforts to socialize your rescue dog, there are times at which you just need to pay attention and follow his lead. His past might hide things neither you or his previous caretakers know about. So, if you see a strong sign of anxiety and nervousness, back away. It might be the best choice.
You want your dog to be peaceful with cats! You want your dog to get along with your own cat and leave other cats alone. By teaching your dog to respect cats, you are keeping him safe. A cat's claws carry lots of bacteria, which means cat scratches can become seriously infected. Also, dogs who become obsessive cat chasers will dash through open doors, leap from car windows, climb over fences, and rush heedlessly into the street when a cat suddenly appears from the shadows. Finally, your cat-owning friends will be very unhappy if you show up for a visit with a cat-intolerant dog. Cats can react very sensible and either anxious or aggressive to new situations especially if another animal enters the home. That is why their first introduction must be calm and pleasant for everyone to ensure a peaceful life together. Yes, socialization with cats is imperative if you want a truly well-behaved dog!
If you have cats in your household, careful introductions may be needed. Baby gates can be a helpful management tool. Your cats should always have an escape route, and they should never be forced to interact. Sometimes introductions between cats and excitable puppies have to be built up over several days or weeks. If you have a particularly territorial or nervous cat, it may even be best to keep them in entirely separate rooms initially. You can pop an item, like a toy or blanket, belonging to the puppy in the cat's room and vice versa, so that they get used to each other scents. Doing initial controlled introductions with the pup on the leash can also be useful.
Cats and Dogs
Living Together Cats and dogs can definitely get along and live together. Despite their different behavior patterns, they could become very close friends. Cats are more reserved and do not like to be thrown into new situations. They will most likely seek some quiet spots in the home to observe the situation first. Puppies, on the other hand, are very energetic and curious. A puppy loves to be around other animals and people and will probably enjoy the presence of the cat way more than vice versa. The key to peacefully living in a multi-species household is a controlled and slow introduction which won't start with them meeting. If not controlled, your puppy will probably lunge at the cat for an attempt to play which will lead her into defending herself.
Prior Experience Before you bring your new puppy home, think about some prior experiences that your cat had with other dogs. Is she afraid of them and quickly hides somewhere or does she even react aggressively at their sight? You won't see a scared cat for a few days once the puppy arrived home. Anxious cats will avoid eye contact at all costs and will probably refuse to enter the house. But cats can also react quite aggressively towards dogs. Especially if you have a larger breed, she will quickly feel intimidated and can cuff if unsupervised. If you have a toy or small breed your cat could see it as prey and start chasing it. So you have to be very cautious at their initial meeting. When buying a puppy, choose a responsible breeder that has a cat and already desensitized the puppies to it. This will give you a head start and your puppy will react more appropriately to the cat. It is not guaranteed but we also chose a breeder with cats although we do not have any ourselves just because she has already learned to live peacefully with other animals which is great for socialization.
What to Do Before Your cat will probably try to seek some privacy when a new puppy arrives. Always provide your cat with a chance to escape from uncomfortable situations. This will make her calmer and more confident overall. Provide her with a den or condo where she can hide and give her something like a cat tree so she will be out of the puppy's reach. Get both animals checked by the vet, so you can be assured that there are no underlying illnesses that could make the introduction harder. Remove anything toxic from your home and always supervise.
Keeping Them Separated It is very important to keep both animals separated prior to their initial meeting. This will give them the opportunity to get used to the presence of one another without meeting. When you bring home a new puppy you will start by letting him explore only one room of the house to avoid him getting overwhelmed. Put your cat in another room, separated with a door, and provide her with food and water. Supervising them won't be a problem at this point as you will have to keep an eye on your puppy 24 / 7 anyways. You can also attach a leash to your puppy to keep him from running into other rooms and controlling potty accidents. Always reinforce calm behavior and correct your puppy if he is scratching on the cat's door or digging.
Crate When Being Left Alone If you cannot supervise your puppy for a short period of time, crate him. You will find any information on crate training here and how you can properly introduce the crate. Yes, everything needs to have a great introduction! Leave your cat roaming outside if she is accustom to it. Make sure that there is no way that either your puppy or your cat can escape from their confined space and get to one another. Tire your puppy out before crating him and provide him with chew toys to keep him occupied. Take some time out of the day and concentrate on bonding with your cat and your puppy individually. This will ensure a positive and calm environment and relieves stress. It will also prevent your cat from thinking that she will be replaced now.
Scent Swapping Both cats and dogs strongly experience their environment through scent. They can remember the scent of their home and can associate it with positive experience. While keeping both your pets separated, put something like a blanket in each room for a couple of days and swap it, so they can get accustomed to their roommates smell. For stronger association, place the blanket or pillow near the feeding area where endorphins are released while eating, so the scent of the other animal will be associated with something good. After they became familiar with the scent, you can then swap their rooms for a much stronger experience. Repeat the process a couple of times until both have settled in the home with all the new smells.
THE FIRST MEETING
For the first meeting, choose a quiet, puppy-proof room in your house with enough space for your cat to escape. Provide your cat with escape routes onto a cat tree or into another room where your puppy cannot follow. Tire out your puppy beforehand with a nice walk or a play session. Keep your puppy on a leash to prevent him from running up to the cat and startling it. Under no circumstances let him off-leash during the first meeting even when they seem to like each other. Take your puppy on a leash and walk to one side of the room after a few minutes, you can let out the cat from the other side of the room. If they immediately start to growl and hiss at each other, stop the meeting and go back to the steps mentioned above.
Let them explore at their own pace. Your puppy will probably try to get to the cat as soon as she enters the room but your cat will be more reserved. She will need more time to evaluate the situation, so do not try to lure her closer, she will come if she wants to. Do not force any of the pets to get closer to each other. It will only make it uncomfortable for everyone. Prevent your puppy from chasing or barking at the cat. This is the time where you will need to discipline him. Chasing cats is a real problem in dogs and you won't want to reinforce this behavior in any way.
Reinforcing Good Behaviour Grab some treats for both your puppy and your cat and reward them for any positive behavior. If your puppy keeps barking at your cat, do not simply tell him "no", show him what to do instead. Engage in some play with him to get him distracted or give him a basic command like sit. Always treat any second where your puppy ignores the cat or reacts to it in a calm manner. You will want to keep him from starring at the cat as it will intimidate her quickly. It is a sign of aggression if your puppy won't look away from her, so you would need to stop the meeting.
Keep It Short and Positive! Keep the first few meetings very short and try to always end them positively. If one pet gets nervous or tired, give them some alone time again. They will remember the positive experience and will slowly get accustomed to one another. Your goal will be to make it so comfortable for them that your cat will eat in the same room with your puppy mostly ignoring her. Any calm and positive meeting will build up their bond so they will be able to live together peacefully in the future. Over time you can make the meetings longer while giving your puppy more freedom - still on a long leash. Let them explore at their own pace and do not rush the process for the sake of saving time. Your pets do not have to become best friends but it would be perfect if they could live harmoniously together.
HOW TO STOP A DOG
TO CHASE THE CAT
As this will be a key point in their meeting, I want to explain it a bit further. Chasing is a predatorial and self-rewarding instinct which means that the more your puppy chases other animals, the more he will like doing it. So you will have to initially prevent any chasing behavior from your puppy by keeping him confined. Keep your puppy on a leash and place some baby gates between the doors, so your cat will have the possibility to escape from your puppy. With the leash you will be able to prevent any chasing from even occurring. In the next step, you will want to get your puppy's attention while being in the same room with your cat. You can achieve this by teaching some basic commands like "sit" or "look at me" and plenty of high value treats like cooked chicken. The more your puppy focusses on you the more he will ignore the cat.
Though a dog's sensitive period of socialization typically ends around 4-5 months old, we recommend continuing to socialize your dog for at least the first year of their life.
Keep Introducing your Dog
to New People Dogs only remain social when continually exposed to unfamiliar people. Continued pleasant exposure to new people keeps the idea that strangers are good news in the forefront of your dog's mind.
Keep Introducing your Dog
to Other Dogs There are lots of ways to do this: dog parks, play groups, play dates with friends' dogs, and simple leash walks can all help accomplish this. Without this experience, dogs can lose their ability to know how to behave appropriately around other dogs.
Vary your Walks Try to avoid taking the same walking route every day. Let your dog experience a variety of environments, from sidewalks to dirt roads. This will provide your growing dog with much-needed mental stimulation.
Teach your Dog
to be Alone Scheduling daily alone time with neither people nor other pets nearby is critical to preventing separation anxiety. Use a baby gate or crates to prevent your dog from shadowing you constantly when you are home. Ask a friend to pet sit for an hour regularly.
Do Not Punish Fear Most displays of aggression are the result of fear. Many owners are caught off guard when their normally easygoing pup reacts fearfully to a new dog or person. However, this change often coincides with the end of the sensitive period of socialization. Starting around 5 months old, your dog may start to interpret anything unfamiliar as a threat and will typically either flee or confront what frightens him. Punishing this reaction will only confirm his fear, so instead remove your dog from the situation and ask for a different behavior - like "sit".
Continue Handling your Dog Make sure your dog is comfortable with different parts of his body being handled. This will ensure that if he must be handled in an emergency he will be less likely to bite. Be on the watch for a stiff body, whites of the eyes showing, a closed mouth, and escape attempts. If you see these signs, stop handling your dog.
It is been said that you can not teach an old dog new tricks. However, you can socialize them. When it comes to socializing adult dogs, a different approach may be required, since older dogs have already established their personality and have had a variety of life experiences: both good ones and potentially bad ones. And, chances are, if you adopt an adult dog, you do not fully know what they have experienced or where they came from. Socializing an adult dog can take a little bit longer than a younger pup, but it can be a rewarding experience for you and your dog.
The degree to which you and your dog enjoy success with socialization depends on his own temperament and the amount of time and energy you are willing to commit to the process. Whatever your dog's age, you can practice socialization with him to modify his behavior and help him overcome his anxieties, making him a more stable, trustworthy, and happier canine companion in the end.
Ideally, puppies are socialized in their first year by being exposed to as many new experiences as possible. Dogs are most sensitive and receptive between this time frame, so the earlier that you get your dog socialized with other pups and humans, the better. When socializing older dogs, especially larger, stronger breeds, try using a harness rather than a collar. While proper leash techniques are the best way to control your dog, a harness may reduce pulling.
The Challenges of Socializing
an Older Dog
Because of the way the brain develops, dog socializing gets harder as a dog gets older. During early puppyhood, dogs are open to new experiences. With proper early socialization, most puppies will grow up to be comfortable in a wide variety of situations. But if puppies do not get good early socialization, or are predisposed to anxiety due to genetics or other factors, they can grow up to be fearful adults. Since the adult brain is less flexible, it takes more work to address adult dogs' fears and anxieties. Still, you can socialize most older dogs with the right help.
Enroll in a dog socialization class, where there are other dogs present, but the environment is more controlled and less stressful. Dog socialization classes allow your dog to be in close proximity with other dogs while being around new people. It is also a good first step before visiting a dog park, where the atmosphere can be frenzied.
Observe other dogs at the dog park, but do not go in the enclosed area. Watching other dogs interact - without having to do any interacting: can be a beneficial experience for your pooch. Having a physical barrier, like a fence, creates a controlled situation, where your dog is never forced to engage with a strange dog.
Praise them for positive interactions, like not reacting to new dogs or being afraid of people. The goal is to create a positive feeling around social behaviors. If you are at the dog park and another dog approaches, reward your pup if they do not react negatively.
Do not overwhelm
your dog with the
"meet and greets"
or doggie play dates.
Introduce one new person each week and be encouraging with each new encounter. The same is true for meeting new dogs. One on one encounters help keep stress levels low. And a good walk with a comfortable distance in between the dogs can create a positive situation for socialization efforts.
KNOW YOUR DOG'S LIMITS ! It is always important to watch your dog for signal's she is had enough of socialization training, but it is of utmost importance when you are socializing an adopted adult dog. Your biggest challenge when training an adult dog is identifying and correcting pre-existing problems. Throwing a needy adult dog willy-nilly into a difficult social situation is tantamount to diving into the deep end of the pool when you have never had a swimming lesson. An adult dog can not be "let loose" to somehow figure out socialization with unfamiliar dogs.
The dog may react by avoidance, standing close to her human, and even growling and snapping at energetic dogs who come too near. And though this is often identified as abnormal behavior, it is not. The mistakes you make trying to socialize your dog, even with honest, good intentions, can backfire and produce an overly shy or aggressive dog. With your adopted adult dog, it is best to tackle basic obedience one on one. Then continue this training in the presence of another dog or a person, slowly expanding the size of the group. During this time, try to recognize the signs that your dog is over or under "threshold."
Dog trainers use the word "threshold" to describe when a dog crosses from one emotional state to another. "Over threshold" means a dog is too challenged by a situation. "Under threshold" means she is within her comfort zone. If you have ever witnessed a dog transition from a state of relative calm to aroused beyond control, you have seen her going "over threshold." When you are in a training or socializing exercise with your adult dog, test her with food to determine whether she is in her comfort zone: if you offer her a treat and she will not take it, she is likely over threshold. Alternately, choose a challenge you believe is firmly beneath her threshold: are you willing to bet money she can do it? If not, your challenge is probably pushing her past her threshold. Your first exercises with your unsocialized adult dog should keep her within her comfort zone, and may even require one on one basic obedience training with a private instructor, before you attempt to introduce her to other dogs and people in a group setting.
DESENSITIZING YOUR DOG
Desensitizing is the process of teaching your dog to be less sensitive towards things in their environment. Many of our clients come to us because they dream of having a dog they can take anywhere who will remain calm and be friendly. This is where desensitization is important. If you have a new dog or puppy, we highly recommend you take them to coffee shops, bars or restaurants with outdoor patios or to outdoor areas with plenty of activity. This process helps your dog become well-adjusted, calm and confident no matter their surroundings.
When your dog has a specific problem shows fear of tall men in hats or skateboarders you can design exercises to desensitize him to the thing that frightens him. Choose a goal: relax at a safe distance from the skateboarders. Once you have arrived at the anxiety-inducing scene, ask your dog to execute a task down or stay, for example and generously reward him with food if he succeeds, taking care not to "bait" him with the food. Then quit while you are ahead - do not allow the situation to escalate. Call him back to you, and take your leave. If he has poor recall, use treats to reel him in.
Monitor your Attitude It is important to keep in mind that dogs sense your emotions and if you seem stressed out or nervous about an experience, so will your furry friend, too. Through body language and tone, you should remain calm and confident. Do not play into your dog's fearful or nervous reactions. If you comfort them when they are frightened, you will teach them that there is a reason to be fearful. Your dog feeds off your reactions and attitude, so be calm, collected and act as though the situation is not a big deal.
Puppies vs. Adult Dogs Off-leash play is beneficial to puppies learning behavior cues, but the same practice can have detrimental effects on adult dogs. While there are exceptions, when dogs reach social maturity between ages one and three, they often no longer enjoy playing with large groups of unfamiliar dogs. They may either attempt to avoid the dogs, stand close to their human family, or even growl and snap at boisterous young dogs that come too close to them. This behavior is often misidentified as abnormal, when in fact it is quite common.
Setting up Playtime
for your Adult Dog If your heart is set on social time with other dogs, start by introducing your dog to one dog at a time. Invite a friend to bring her gentle, easygoing dog on a walk with you and your dog. Allow a polite distance between dogs while they get accustomed to each other. If both dogs appear relaxed throughout the walk, allow them to sniff each other briefly. Keep leashes loose and each interaction short. If either dog appears to be tensing up, call the dogs apart with pleasant, relaxed voices. If both dogs' bodies appear loose and tails are wagging, consider an off-leash session in one of your fenced yards with leashes dragging, using the same short sessions and reinforcement for relaxed behavior.
Revisit Training Basics Dogs actually like to be told what to do, as long as they understand what is expected of them. Review the basics like sit, lie down, get off the sofa, go to your kennel or bed. Practice these cues regularly, every day. Ask him to "do" something he knows like sit, shake while out on a walk and you spot something in the distance that might upset him. It gets his attention on you and distracts him from whatever stress trigger you have identified.
Provide Irresistible Motivation Treats, toys, praise - make sure it is really enjoyable for your dog. We are all willing to work a little harder at something outside of our comfort zone if there is a worthy reward involved. Do not be afraid to use treats heavily - just keep the pieces small and truly yummy. A positive experience associated with something "scary" can work wonders in changing a dog's emotional response for the better.
Set up an encounter with something New or Scary Get a friend to wear a hat, or ask a skateboarder to ride by slowly. If you can not get volunteers to help, go somewhere where you can keep a safe distance as you train. For example, you could stand 100 feet from the dog park fence to let your dog see other dogs, but not close-up.
When your dog notices the new thing, Praise and Feed Treats Bring along treats your dog adores. When your dog notices the new thing, praise or say something cheerful - "What a nice man in a hat!" and then give your dog a treat. Feed treats as long as the new thing is there, and stop as soon as it is gone.
Follow your dog's lead, but keep a Safe Distance! Let your dog decide if they want to move closer to the new thing or not. Starting from far away, stand next to your dog and watch their body language. Are they stepping forward, stepping away, or standing still? Follow their lead. Ideally, your dog will move toward the new thing in a slow, curvy path, so that they get closer but not very quickly. One important note: Some dogs scare themselves by getting too close to new things. If your dog is dragging you straight to the thing, they are not calm. If they refuse treats as they move closer, that is a warning sign, too. If your dog seems excited or agitated in other ways as they approach the new thing, move them away and feed treats from farther away for a while.
Repeat with as many new things as Possible Over time, you should notice that your dog seems more relaxed, or even looks to you for treats, during each new encounter.
Stick to just One New Thing at a Time If your dog finds new things stressful, three new things will be more stressful than one. Avoid situations with too many new things. Choose situations where only one new thing is in the picture.
Stay Calm and Relaxed We can not always calm our dogs down, but it's easy to accidentally rev them up. If you are agitated, your dog is likely to get stressed, too. Take a few slow, relaxed breaths or roll your shoulders if you feel tense. If you can't calm down, lead your dog away from the new thing.
Watch for and Respect Signs of Stress A dog's body language lets you know when the dog is experiencing stress. If your dog is yawning, showing the whites of his eyes, licking his lips, panting more, turning his head or body away, hiding behind you, or showing signs of aggression such as growling, that means he is uncomfortable. Create distance between you and the new thing.
Use Calming Aids to help your Dog Feel More Relaxed There are a variety of calming aids that can help reduce your dog's anxiety. One long-term calming aid my clients like is the Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Calming Care Probiotic Dog Supplement, a powder you add to the dog's meals. Two other options are VetriScience Composure Dog Chews and Nutramax Solliquin Calming Soft Chews, which can be used daily or on an as needed basis. Another option is the Outward Hound Collar Buddy Dog Collar Accessory, which contains calming essential oils. Before using any of the above products, consult your veterinarian, especially if there are also cats in your home. Cats are sensitive to some things that are safe for dogs.
Let people know your Dog Needs Space! Being petted by strangers is a terrifying experience for some dogs. Let people know your dog is anxious about strangers using the Dogline Unimax Multi-Purpose Do Not Pet Dog Harness. This walking harness says "DO NOT PET" in big letters on both sides, so people can read it from a safe distance away.
One great way to help socialize a puppy is to attend puppy kindergarten classes. These are classes designed especially for puppy training and early socialization. In a typical puppy class, off-leash play and play-fighting helps socialize puppies with each other, teaches them to be gentle with their mouthing and biting, and gets them used to being handled by a variety of people. Some classes even include exposure to odd sights and sounds using props, CDs of sounds, and theatrics with costumes to accustom the puppies to a wide range of life experiences.
Puppy classes also teach some basic obedience skills, so on top of the socialization component, you will learn how to ask your pup to comply with your requests and behave according to your expectations. Puppy socialization classes offer a safe and organized means of socializing puppies. Each puppy should have up-to-date vaccinations and be disease and parasite free before entering the class. Where possible, classes should be held on surfaces that are easily cleaned and disinfected like indoor environments. Visits to dog parks or other areas that are not sanitized or are highly trafficked by dogs of unknown vaccination or disease status should be avoided.
A good puppy class can help with socialisation and get you started with your training, but remember that a weekly session won't be enough and the majority of the work should be done by you away from the class. Puppies are usually admitted between the ages of 12 and 20 weeks and the entire family is encouraged to attend so that all the puppies present get to meet a wide variety of adults and children. Finding a good class is essential as a bad one can do more harm than good - your vet may be able to recommend one. Ask to observe a class in progress before taking your puppy along. If there is a lot of uncontrolled play between puppies with little intervention, look elsewhere. Puppy classes should teach more about how to enjoy the company of humans rather than how to have a good time playing with other puppies.
Sign up if:
The sessions are well controlled and planned, and the class size is small. More than 10 is likely to be a bit chaotic!
They are only run for young puppies - rather than for older dogs too
Positive reward based training is used - avoid trainers that use punitive methods as the damage caused to your puppy can be irreversible
The puppies and their owners look happy and relaxed. Training classes should be fun and enjoyable for everyone!
Dog parks can be a wonderful place to allow your dog to play and explore off-leash in a safe environment. Once you have established the few important things below, you will be ready to begin socializing your dog to the environment at the dog park.
Your dog has all the appropriate immunizations. Check with your veterinarian.
Your dog is usually friendly around other animals. If your dog is shy, reactive or has not been around other dogs you should consider a less overwhelming environment like a training class before checking out the dog park.
You are prepared to supervise and interact with your dog at all times while at the park. The dog park is the place to be focused on your dog, not on your cell phone.
Your dog has a good recall - come when called, not just at home, so practice this before heading out anywhere your dog will be off-leash.
The important part is to keep the introductions slow and ensure the dog is enjoying the experience. If the dog begins to show signs of stress, anxiety, fear or reactivity slow down, pull back and return to an earlier point in the introduction. The dog park is not just one thing. It is a new environment filled with new dogs, people, objects, smells, sounds and experiences. The best you can do for your dog is to scope out any dog parks in your area before bringing your dog along. Check the park out at times you are most likely to go.
BEFORE YOU GO TO THE PARK (Tips by Matthew Thompson)
Our furry canine friends are experts at hanging out with us and being awesome. Unfortunately, they are not always as friendly or outgoing around other humans or pets. This can be a real problem if you want your pup to enjoy their time at the dog park.
Get Them Out There Young - The most important step in learning how to socialize a dog is starting early. After all, some children are learning between three and five languages in the first years of their lives. If they can do it, then our canine kids can learn to get along with others early in their development at the very least. In fact, you can start socializing your pup at three weeks of age. The ideal age is between three and twelve weeks. Getting an early start is essential. The old adage might technically be false, but socializing a dog undoubtedly gets more difficult as time goes by.
Change Dog Walks - Change Up Your Dog's Walks So They Get Used To New Things. Most of us need to get a bit more exercise, and even if you were only wondering how to socialize your dog for the park, rest assured you will also become more active. This is because taking your pup out for daily walks is essential for socialization. Dog parks can be a scary place for those who do not get out much. Going on daily walks with your pup will allow them to encounter everything the world has to offer. This could include large buses driving by, other dogs and even the often feared mailman. Keep your canine companion on a short leash, and take them on different routes. Take the time to introduce them to different types of people as well.
Bribe Your Dog - Everyone responds well to positive reinforcement. Sure, it is essentially bribery, but this is not a heist film and no one is getting hurt. And if it works, who really cares? There is the potential for doing more harm than good - if your pup is not enjoying himself while you learn how to socialize a dog. Of course, this is not the easiest thing in the world. The whole point of socialization is introducing your dog to interactions they may otherwise not enjoy. By bringing along their favorite treat, however, you are making every interaction a positive one. Whenever your pup behaves when meeting new people or other dogs, make sure to reward your dog.
The Right Dog Park - Not Just The First One - While scouting out dog parks without your pup won't socialize them, it will help you choose the best spot to get the job done. Check out dog parks at varying times over several days. Are areas separated by size, and is this something your furry friend might need? Is there containment fencing if your confidence in the little fella's training is lacking? You will also want to consider when the park is the busiest. If your pup is new to the environment, it is probably best to visit when there are not many others around. Do not aim for a time when no one is visiting, but fewer dogs will be less overwhelming for your friend.
Organize Smaller Dog Playdates For Practice - Your doggy dates should be more geared towards how to socialize your dog rather than finding their significant other. Make sure you set up a playdate with a well-behaved pup. This will ensure the best chance of your dog not being overwhelmed while learning to be around other pets. While doggy dates won't simulate the full experience of visiting a dog park, they will certainly get the ball rolling in the right direction. Once your pup does well in this situation, it would not hurt to set up a puppy party. Research published in Veterinary Medicine found that dogs who participated in these social gatherings were less likely to display undesirable behavior throughout their lives.
Start Slow When You Arrive At The Dog Park - All of these steps are essential when learning how to socialize your dog, and following them will likely get your pup prepared for his first outing. All the preparation in the world, however, does not excuse metaphorically throwing them into the deep end. You will want to start slowly by first introducing your pal to one or two other dogs at the park. Start by walking along the perimeter of the area so your dog can become acquainted with the park. They may even meet a few new friends along the fence line. During this time, you should scope out other pets that appear to have a friendly demeanorcalm demeanor. Explain to their owners that you are trying to socialize your dog and see if they'd be willing to let the two spend some time together. This will have your furry friend palling around in no time.
Have Patience And Keep Things Simple - Knowing how to socialize a dog does not come naturally for most people. This means that if you have any concerns that you are doing something wrong, rest assured that almost everyone has been in your shoes. By following these simple tips, though, you can snatch yourself out of that category. While your pup might currently only want to hang around the house with you, he will be dragging you along to the park in no time.
Park Facilities and Management
Does the park have posted safety and conduct rules? Make note of these and whether those using the park are actually following the rules.
Does the park have separate areas for small dogs and larger dogs? While this does not ensure safe dog-dog interactions it is definitely a good start.
Is the park well kept? It is a dog park so there will be some dirt but the grass and other areas should be maintained, the fence should be secure, there should be waste stations and secure trash receptacles.
Does the park have any equipment or obstacles for agility or play? These should be well-maintained, low to the ground and easy to ensure the safety of all the dogs. Dogs not trained for these things can be injured.
Who manages the park? It could be the city, a private group or even volunteers. Check out any resources they have online.
People and Dogs Are the pet parents supervising and interacting with their pets? If they are spending more time chatting with each other and texting they are not going to be able to control their dog if play gets too rambunctious. They should be monitoring their dog at all times.
Do all the dogs rush the gate when a new dog is entering? The pet parents should be encouraging their dogs to stay clear so others can enter safely.
Does the dog play look friendly? Dogs who are playing are loose, wiggly and bouncy.
Once you have found a good dog park, plan a short first trip. You may not even go inside the park the first time. Pick a time when the park is not too busy. Early mornings are usually good. Evenings and after 9 am on the weekends are usually swamped. Start by walking your dog on-leash outside the park and letting him check out all the sights, sounds and smells. If he approaches the fence calmly and looks happy to be there, feed him some treats.
Careful with the treats, as it is safest not to take a bunch of treats into the park or some dogs may mob you or display guarding around the treats. Practice a few behaviors like sit or down. Practice approaching the gate calmly. If it is going well, take your dog in for quick off-leash lap around the inside of the park. Walk around with your dog. Talk to him, play and have fun. The dog park should always be fun for you and more importantly your dog. If at any time your dog seems, uncomfortable in the park or with any of the dogs or people you should leave. Even if it is going well, keep this first visit short, no more than 20 minutes. Next time you can plan to stay a little longer if your dog is enjoying himself.
As your dog interacts with the other dogs at the park pay close attention to the dogs he enjoys playing with and which ones he ignores, or runs away from. Just like we do not like everyone we meet, your dog won't like every dog he meets. Introduce yourself to the pet parents of the dogs your dog likes to engage with and find out when they visit the park. It is a great way to ensure your dog has a good time and make some new friends. The best dog parks have a community of pet parents who are regulars and help watch out for each other's dogs.
Every time you visit the dog park, do a quick check before you go in the gate. Note any dogs, people, objects and sounds that may be new to your dog. Each trip will have a different set of variables and may present a socialization opportunity. Keep each interaction positive for your dog. Be prepared to leave or play away from some dogs if the situation is uncomfortable for your dog. With proper socialization, your dog should become happy to play at the park with other well socialized dogs. That does not mean he will get along with every dog, especially if the other dog does not have the best doggie manners. Not every dog enjoys the dog park and that is OK. There are plenty of other options like agility, tricks, hiking, etc. that you can do with your dog.
Responsible dog owners need to understand how socialization helps develop their dog's personality. Every dog owner wants their dogs to be friendly and easy going. But the process of socializing your dog is not as easy as many people think. Consequently, most people end up making dog socialization mistakes that could put their dogs at risk. Understanding, and more importantly avoiding, seven fundamental dog socialization mistakes will help you create a happy, healthy, confident dog.
Avoid making dog socialization mistakes. Never force your dog to socialize with an unfamiliar dog. Know your dog and let them set the pace. Immediately correct aggressive dog behavior. Understand and respect your dog's personality and boundaries. If you spent time socializing your dog as a puppy and they usually are friendly, pay attention when they seem uncomfortable or nervous. Chances are good that following their lead will keep you both safe.
1. Not Knowing your Dog Do you think you know your dog? Chances are good you do not! Most dog owners fail to take the time to understand their dogs. Most people acquire a new dog, spend a few days with him and then take the dog out to socialize with other dogs. Too many owners think their dogs enjoy going to the dog park to play. They fail to understand that not all dogs are comfortable interacting with others. For most dogs, socializing with strangers is difficult and stressful. It is like forcing a shy person to spend time with an outgoing person. Or worse, to hang out at a crowded party where they do not know anyone. Before you introduce your dog to other dogs, be sure you understand your dog's personality. Start slowly. Perhaps introduce your dog to a friend or neighbor's dog before you toss them into the mix at the dog park.
2. Failing to Socialize Early When most people get a new dog, they tend to concentrate on things like potty training or basic obedience lessons. If you get busy with work, it is easy to let time slip by. But puppies need to be socialized while they are young. Waiting too long can produce a nervous, fearful dog. Older dogs can be socialized, but the process gets more difficult as the dog ages. Consider a child who does not get to spend time with other children until he is 10, 15, or even 20. He most likely will be uncomfortable and awkward because he does not understand social cues or how to make conversation.
The same thing happens with dogs. They need to learn how to communicate with other dogs. Dogs primarily use body language. The tilt of the head, the wagging tail and whether they lick their lips or show their teeth all send messages to other dogs. As a responsible owner, you need to supervise dog interactions, especially if you are introducing your puppy to an adult dog or taking your puppy to a dog park. Failing to do so not only could scare your puppy, but the situation also could cause injuries not only to your dog but to others.
3. Forcing tour Dog Let your dog set his own pace. Do not put two dogs together and expect them to get along. If your dog has had a bad experience, for example, your dog was bitten by an off-leash dog while on a leash, your dog understandably will fear other dogs when they approach. If your dog is small or mid-sized, they also may be nervous around bigger dogs even if they have never had an unpleasant encounter. Help your dog overcome those fears. A great way to do that is to take your dog to a puppy kindergarten or basic obedience class. That way you can introduce your dog to other dogs in a controlled atmosphere.
4. Meeting Strange Dogs You know your dog, but what do you know about the other dog walking toward you on the sidewalk? Little to nothing if you have not encountered that dog before. Follow your dog's cues. If he seems nervous, do not force him to interact with the other dog. Dogs know how to read canine body language and if your dog wants to meet the other dog, let him. Just stick close so you can separate them quickly if the encounter starts to go badly. Be cautious about taking your dog to a dog park. Many people bring their furry friends to the dog park without knowing if their pup is an introvert or extrovert. To ensure your dog socializes safely, do not immediately release your dog. Wait and watch how the other dogs play.
If the dogs are similar in size to yours and appear to have friendly temperaments, you can unhook your dog's leash. Then let your dog decide when to join the action. But if you see the dogs are rough or aggressive with each other or if one dog is a dog park bully who tries to dominate the others, keep the leash on and even think about walking away. Also, be sure that both you and your dog follow proper dog park etiquette. Do not let your dog mount or hump other dogs. Most importantly, if your dog suddenly becomes aggressive at the dog park, you might want to rethink your socialization strategy. Being in an open space with lots of dogs is not a good idea until you know your dog will respond to basic commands.
5. Failing to Realize your Dog Could get Hurt Letting your puppy play with one or two big dogs should be fine. As a rule, most bigger dogs are gentle giants. They have even temperaments and behave well with other dogs and children. The challenge comes when the group at the dog park gets too big. The situation becomes unpredictable, and the chance for a dog fight increases. You do not want your puppy to get caught in the middle. Pack mentality potentially can turn dangerous. Consider how a "good" teenager can be swayed by peer pressure into rogue behavior. The same thing can happen with dogs.
6. Thinking the Dog Park is the only Place to Socialize Too many owners think a dog park is an easy option to socialize their dogs. Others fail to pay adequate attention to their dogs at the park. They get engrossed in conversation or spend too much time staring at their smartphones. In truth, the easiest way to socialize your dog is to go for regular walks. You will encounter new situations, people, and other dogs. Take your time and let your dog sniff and explore. Not every walk needs to be a race. Let your dog get to know your neighborhood. As a bonus, your neighbors will get to know your dog. Then if your dog ever gets out, they will be more likely to help your pup get home.
7. Failing to Correct Misbehavior Dogs tend to bark or growl out of fear, especially if they see other dogs or a stranger. You need to teach your dog there is a difference between meeting a stranger on a walk and recognizing when a stranger is approaching your home. In the first situation, you do not want your dog to bark or growl. With the second, you might want to get a warning about a potential threat. When your dog barks or growls while walking, stop and make the dog sit. If the dog continues to growl or bark, give a stop, look at me, or no bark command. If you can, enlist the stranger's help. That person might be willing to meet your dog. Have the stranger let your dog sniff his hand. If your dog is friendly, the stranger can then pet the dog. If you have any treats along, ask the stranger to give your dog a sit command. When the dog obeys, give the dog a treat. It is not healthy for your dog to fear every stranger you meet. But if your dog usually is friendly and then in a rare case seems nervous or protective of you, pay attention. The other person likely is harmless, but your dog sees them as a threat. If that happens, keep the stranger at a comfortable distance.
Common Socialization Myths
MYTH 1 The first myth is that people think that to socialize a dog you just have to put the dog into new situations. This is NOT socialization, this is called exposure. Proper socializing requires exposing dogs to new situations in a measured and controlled way so that they can make a positive association with the new situation. He has to feel safe and in control while he is faced with the new situation. If you expose the dog to the new experience and the dog has bad or fearful experience, he will go on to equate the new thing as a negative experience. That is the opposite of a positive socializing experience.
MYTH 2 Alone, the act of exposing a dog to fearful experiences will not automatically cause the dog to suddenly get beyond his fears. Behavior modification - changing how they feel about a situation, is used to help a dog overcome his fears. The purpose of socialization is used to present the dog with new experiences in the hopes that it prevents him from becoming fearful in the first place.
MYTH 3 If you fully immerse the dog into the fearful situation - flooding, he will have no choice but to face his fears and he will be able to get past the fears. Not necessarily true. Think about it for a moment. If someone is deathly afraid of snakes, is putting him into a room full of snakes going to be helpful in them getting over their fear of snakes? Most likely this will not happen. They will probably just shut down with fear. Socialization differs from flooding because the exposure to the stimuli is fully controlled and adjusted to the needs of the dog by keeping him under his fear threshold. Socializing an already fearful dog can be a painstakingly slow process, and it is important to remember that socialization is a lifelong process – not a destination. Degrees of your dog's comfort should be a work in process, and individualized to each dogs capability and threshold. Some dogs can progress more than others, and knowing your dog's limits can be helpful.