Dog Socialization Part 1: Socializing Your Puppy

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socializationDogs are extremely social creatures, but that doesn’t mean that owners can assume that their dog will be comfortable around other people, animals, and even objects, without any additional assistance. The reality is that properly socializing a dog is an extremely important undertaking that all pet owners need to take seriously. While there are definitely things you can do to properly socialize an older dog, one of the easiest ways to socialize your pup is to do so while they’re still young and eager to learn! Here are just a few tips for things you should keep in mind when looking to properly socialize a young dog.

Meeting Other Dogs

To help keep your pup happy and safe later on, it’s important to help your puppy meet a variety of dogs of various breeds, sizes, and temperaments so that they can become comfortable interacting with all different kinds of dogs. However, this does not mean just taking your puppy to any dog park and hoping for the best. You need to be extremely intentional with the dogs your dog meets early on, as you want to make sure that all meetings and interactions are healthy, positive ones that will breed trust in your dog. As such, you first need to make sure your dog, especially if he/she isn’t fully vaccinated, is only meeting fully vaccinated dogs. This can help prevent your pup from picking up a potentially deadly disease, like Parvo. Additionally, you want to make sure that the dogs your puppy meets early on are friendly and well-socialized themselves. If you have friends of family members with calm, well-mannered dogs that won’t overreact to a puppy that is overflowing with energy, that is a great place to start! Safe interactions with other well-socialized dogs will make positive associations in your pup, and will help train your dog how to act around other dogs!

Meeting Other People

Just because your pup loves you doesn’t mean that all people are immediately ok. In fact, dogs respond very differently to people based on age, height, gender, what they’re wearing, and their movements / interactions with the dog. As such, it’s very important for your young pup to meet as many new people as possible while they’re still young. However, just like meeting other dogs, this needs to be done intentionally. Make sure that your pup is comfortable meeting new people, and if he/she seems scared, don’t force it. Additionally, introducing your puppy to kids at a young age is very important, but make sure that the kids your puppy first meets are calm, and behave around your dog properly. Children that are running and screaming, or who aren’t gentle with your puppy, could end up creating more fear than comfort.

Meeting New, Scary Things

As strange as it may sound, it’s important to introduce your dog to “things” that it might come across in the course of its life, but that might not be part of its daily routine. Things like wheelchairs, crutches, skateboards, and bicycles are all things that your dog might encounter at one time or another, and so it’s a good idea to test your dog’s temperament around loud, potentially scary objects, and reward them with treats when they don’t react. This can make venturing into unknown situations in the future much more safe and calm for both you and your pup!

Here at Walk! ATX, we have experience helping dogs of all ages with proper socialization, and are happy to provide advice and instruction for both puppies and adult dogs that are in need of a little help. If you are looking to properly socialize your dog with people or other animals, give us a call and we’d be happy to help!