When it comes to socializing your dog it’s important to set you and your pooch up for success. There are many misconceptions when it comes to what socialization truly means, so I though it necessary to address this in a blog. Most dog owners assume it’s making sure their dog can play and be around other dogs without conflict. Although this is important, it is not the only aspect of socialization. Beyond tolerating other dogs, it also means knowing how to behave around humans and in new environments.
Here are my tips on how to socialize your dog and keep them happy and balanced throughout their life.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait for issues to arise to start socializing your dog. Start early and enrol your puppy in training classes at an early age. That way you’ll be working with a professional who can ensure your dog’s safety and you’ll learn the tools and skills needed to continue socializing as the dog matures. There you’ll also connect with other likeminded dog owners who can become your dog’s regular friends if you choose to stay in touch. Use it as a networking opportunity.
- Once is not enough. Training is important but one class is not going to create a perfect dog. Training and socialization go hand in hand and are ongoing throughout your dogs life. I like to think of it as a lifestyle not a diet. Think about ways that you can continue to grow your dog’s social skills regularly.
- Socialization is not just for puppies. All dogs at every age need friends. Dogs, like humans, are social pack animals and need to be around other dogs ongoing so that they are fulfilled, happy and balanced family pets. As your dog grows up, make sure you are still providing opportunities for them to meet people, go new places, and interact with other dogs, those they are familiar with as well as new friends.
- Socialize daily. Just like human’s interact with other humans numerous times a day, our dogs need daily interactions with new people, places and other dogs. Regular practice ensures your dog’s manners stay fresh. Try taking your dog with you when you go out whether it’s to the pet store, a friend’s house, out for a drink on a patio, or pet friendly stores in your neighbourhood. You can also sign your dog up for regular visits with friends at a daycare you know and trust or with a highly trained dog walker who works with a pack.
- You need to put in effort. Don’t just leave all the work to the pros. It’s not as simple as having your dog walker or local daycare do all the heavy lifting. Although these are fantastic opportunities for your dog to be a social butterfly, it is also very important that your dog knows how to socialize around YOU, not just in your absence. Invite friends to bring their dogs to your own get togethers, start a weekly neighbourhood walk, or see about local events that allow canines. This is what the joy of having a dog is all about, including them in your life events. If you don’t have a network of friendly dogs to socialize with, why not create your own. Facebook and other social media outlets are great for posting and finding local events. Or check with your local pet store to see if they know of any pet friendly events.
Just to give you a few ideas, here’s how I ensure my dogs practice regular socialization with people, places and other dogs. My dogs come with me to family bbq’s and when I teach my training classes. My girlfriend brings her pooch when we have our Bachelor nights (my guilty pleasure). I take my dogs with me for coffee with friends or when I go to dog friendly stores (Chapters is our favourite). I host events like Movie Nights and Paint Nights where dog owners can participate with their furry friends. We also do regular walks with our Dog Haus clients and sometimes I just take my dogs in the car with me for a drive and see where we end up, often times we find a great new walking trail.
I hope you find this article helpful and that it inspires you to get out and have fun with your dog! It’s the best way to show your canine companion how much you love her!