The Importance of Socializing Your Dog
Many people decided to bring a new dog or puppy into their homes. If nothing else is to be done as far as training, proper socialization is one of the most important things that you can do for your new beloved companion. A well socialized dog is so important. Proper socialization will help puppies grow up into confident dogs. This will allow them to be around people and unknown dogs without too many problems.
That being said, some dogs just might not like other dogs or people. This might be just who they are when they become an adult. I happen to not like every person I meet, nor would I expect my dog to like every dog or person she meets. However, I do expect her and other dogs I train to behave themselves when they are around other dogs or people. Teaching them different ways to behave can change their perspective on how they view things. The best thing you can do is prevent a problem before it occurs.
Most dogs react negatively, or “aggressively,” because they are afraid. Helping a dog overcome its fear takes time, patience, and consistency. Positive reinforcement techniques are the best way because you don’t want the dog to associate something negative with something it is already afraid of. For this reason, shock collars, pinch collars, and choke collars are not recommended, and actually can cause the dog to regress.
Socializing Dogs with People
To help prevent a fear of people from developing, start by bringing your new pet to a local store. If your dog is not afraid or has issues with other dogs, you can choose a pet store, but otherwise, just stand outside the entrance of a mall or food store. If your dog is wary of people and dogs, bringing him into a pet store may be too many stimuli for him. Make sure you have good treats on you, such as small pieces of hotdog, leftover hamburger, cheese, leftover chicken or turkey from dinner. Have men, women, and children of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities give your puppy or dog a treat while they pet it. If your dog or puppy is a little nervous, it may hide behind you, or crouch its body close to the ground, or have its tail tucked between its legs. In this case, just have people walk by and toss it treats without petting.
Eye contact can be very intimidating, so make sure people don’t make eye contact when walking past your fearful dog. In doing this, you are starting to make a positive association when the dog is around strangers. For more severe reactions such as lunging, nipping, and growling, make sure you consult a trainer. If you keep exposing your dog to people in a positive manner several times a week, you will begin to see your puppy or dog getting excited to be around people.
Socializing Dogs to Other Dogs
Socializing dogs to other dogs can be a bit trickier, especially when your dog has problems with other dogs to begin with. Again, I would get a professional dog trainer to help assist you. To help prevent a fear of dogs from developing, your puppy needs to have positive play dates with many puppies and dogs of all different breeds. Otherwise, your puppy might get used to small dogs, but when that big, playful Great Dane comes strolling around the corner, the puppy goes ballistic.
You can help your puppy grow up into a confident adult while it’s around other dogs by joining a group class for puppies. Make sure again, the trainer believes in positive reinforcement techniques, such as clicker training. Most group classes not only teach basic obedience but allow play time after class. Another thing you can do is have your puppy join a doggy daycare center. Make sure you check out the facility yourself to find out if you agree with how they handle certain situations, such as if a fight breaks out. Let’s face it - arguments between dogs are going to happen, even in the best socialized dogs. They can have arguments just as we can. However, they usually get over the argument much faster than we humans can.
Not only are group classes and doggy day care centers good for puppies, they are also beneficial for the shy, adult dog. It allows the dog to have positive play time with other dogs while being supervised. With proper socialization, you are on your way to a happy, confident adult dog, and long years of enjoying your companion.