For Socializing Your Dog
SOCIALIZING YOUR DOG
KEEP IT FUN AND ENJOYABLE
Socialization shouldn't feel like work because it's really just a natural process dogs must go through to enjoy their time with other dogs and humans. Keep social activities pleasant by bringing along a few dog treats. They'll keep your dog's mind occupied and help relieve any anxiety produced by an unfamiliar experience. Bringing a few of your dog's favorite toys along can also help keep your pup entertained and relaxed while visiting a new place.
YOUR DOG SHOULD LEAD THE WAY, NOT YOU
A common mistake pet parents make is forcing their dogs into uncomfortable situations. When introducing them to another pup, let both dogs smell each other (that's their way of saying hello) while holding onto their leash. If one becomes fearful or aggressive, gently pull him away to reassure him. The same caution should be exercised when introducing them to humans or other types of pets.
START SOCIALIZING YOUR PUPPY EARLY
Dogs have a sensitive period between the ages of 7 and 12 weeks (or debatably up to 14 or 16 weeks) when their surroundings make a huge impression on them. Like children, puppies have a youthful innocence at this age that makes them eager and unafraid to encounter new things. Use this early courage to expose them to a variety of people, places, animals and sounds so they form positive associations with those things.
BE CAREFUL OF A SUDDEN FEAR PERIOD
Between weeks 8 and 11, your pup may display signs of fear when faced with unfamiliar situations. If you start noticing sudden, negative reactions from your pup (e.g. hugging your legs, cowering in the corner, ears tilted back), do your best to shield him from potentially frightening or painful encounters. Traumas sustained during this stage of their upbringing can be more lasting than fears that occur at other times in their lives.
BE EXTRA VIGILANT WHEN SOCIALIZING YOUR ADULT DOG
Adopting an older dog from a rescue or shelter is very different from bringing home a puppy. Adult dogs may have had negative experiences you're not aware of. If your dog had a traumatic encounter with a certain breed or a specific colored canine, he might become overly anxious and scared. Pay close attention to your dog's behavior around humans and pets so you can better understand its strengths and take steps to address its needs.
SOCIALIZING INCLUDES PLACES TOO
Socializing shouldn't just include humans and animals; your pet should also be comfortable in the places he'll visit frequently. Will your dog spend time at the local dog park or regularly accompany you to a particular relative's home? If so, get your dog familiarized with those areas early on; he will quickly begin to recognize their smells, become more comfortable and feel rewarded spending time there.