The best time to socialize any dog is when it’s a puppy and still receptive to new people and things. However, that’s not always possible, especially if you adopt / rescue your dog as an adult. Bringing an adult dog home can be a stressful experience if you aren’t sure what degree of socialization they have had up to that point. Fortunately, if you do find that your dog isn’t comfortable around others, there are steps you can take to socialize your adult dog.
Take Daily Walks
By taking your dog for daily walks, you will help him or her get used to the presence of other people or animals. If you dog is reactive or unfriendly don’t force him or her to socialize. Instead, try and help your pup get used to the presence of others while walking. You can also help build positive associations by bringing treats with you on your walk. If your dog is reactive towards other dogs, give your dog treats as soon as you see another dog coming. However, only treat your dog if he or she is behaving and not barking or growling. As long as your dog behaves politely, continue to treat him or her until the dog passes. If you are consistent with this training, your dog will come to associate other dogs with rewards, and help him or her warm up to these other animals.
Walk Near Dog Parks
Taking your dog into a dog park might be too much if he or she was not socialized as a puppy, but walking your dog near the fence of a dog park is a good, safe first step. Your dog can get used to the sights, smells, and sounds of a dog park, and see other dogs interacting safely and politely, which could be a good eventual gateway for your dog to join in the fun.
Arrange Play Dates with Well-Behaved, Polite Dogs
If you have a friend or family member with a polite, well-behaved dog, you may want to arrange a play date to see how your dog gets along with others. Often times, it’s best to find an older dog that is non-reactive, who will be patient with your dog if he or she is poorly behaved. If you are really concerned about your dog’s reactions, you may want to consider muzzling your dog for the initial meeting.
At Walk! ATX, we have experience handling dogs of any socialization level, and can help provide you with specific advice tailored to help you socialize your puppy or adult dog. Learn more about the services we offer by calling us today at (512) 655-9557.