Dogs may be man’s best friends but just like humans, animals need to be around their own kind just as much as we do. In fact, socializing your dog is actually better for their health. Without proper socialization, they can become more fearful of unfamiliar people and situations. This increases their adrenaline and corticosteroid levels. This raises heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate and inhibits healthy blood flow to other organs on the body.
Poor socialization with other animals makes it difficult when greeted by other dogs or to allow them to play off the leash outside. Socialization is good for their mental health providing a boost in confidence and teaching them to behave cooperatively with other dogs. There are ways to help socialize your dog for a happier and healthier life!
Sometimes its nature over nurture. Different types of breeds have different types of personalities. Some breeds are naturally more aloof and sensitive than other breeds. These types of breeds will take longer to warm up to a naturally more playful and energetic dog. Do your research to find out how your pooches breed or breeds (if mixed) interact with other animals and humans.
Puppies learn a lot in the earlier years of their lives. The first 3-4 months of their lives is the prime time to begin socializing them. During this time, your puppy is practically fearless. We want to keep them safe because of this reason. However, a few bumps and scrapes romping around with other like-minded puppies is actually much better for their social skills in the future. Use proactive exposure training by introducing them to new people, places, situations, animals and children during this time. Keep the length of time of exposure short to not overwhelm them. If you got your dog later on in their life, it may be a little trickier to socialize them if they are having trouble.
If your dog had a bad interaction with another dog or a human when they were younger, they may have trouble socializing. This is especially true if they were abused by other animals or previous owners. Natural dog calming soft chews can help reduce their fear and apprehensive as you slowly integrate them into safe and social situations.
Set up playdates for your dog with other dogs in the neighborhood. Be sure both dogs and owners are present for the play-date. It will be much easier to take care of business if anything goes awry. It isn’t up to you to reprimand another dog or stop another dog if they are being aggressive. If it is their first play-date, see how they do in a smaller space first. You want to be able to react quickly. Eventually, you can start allowing them to run around freely in the backyard together.
Dog parks are an excellent way to socialize your dog with a variety of other dogs and breeds. Dog parks are fenced in areas for dogs to play and romp around. They are typically split into two sections, “big dogs” and “small dogs.” Keep them on the leash at first until they adapt to their surroundings. Walk around the perimeter with them. If you feel comfortable, take them off of their leash. Many people do. Always keep a close eye on them. You may trust your dog but if you aren’t familiar with the other dogs, you want to be able to protect your pooch.
It may be better to get two dogs at the same time. This isn’t feasible for some owners but it is effective. There are some precautions to take when introducing another dog to the family at a different time. However, there is nothing better for your dogs socialization with other dogs than having another dog in the house with them.
A helicopter owner hovers over their dog when they are playing with other dogs. If you are constantly keeping them close to you, getting involved with their interactions or reprimanding your dog while they play with others this prevents them from feeling safe and comfortable without you around. Dogs can learn from other dogs. It is natural for dogs to nip, bite, growl and jump on each other. You will eventually be able to tell the difference between an actual dog fight and an aggressive attack versus a playful interaction.
Dogs love to be with humans and with other dogs when they are socialized properly. A dog that is withdrawn, fearful or aggressive can be taught to be social with time, patience and the right environments. Don’t be afraid to let your dog just be a dog!