Socializing a dog is extremely important to their well-being; but how do you properly socialize a dog? This article will explain to you what socialization is to ensure your dog doesn’t have behavior problems when it gets older and how to interact with other dogs, cats and kids.
WHAT IS SOCIALIZATION?
It’s the process of how to train a dog to interact with other animals and humans, properly. The dog will learn the skills necessary to communicate with and interpret another dog’s intentions. The dog will also learn to cope with stress and will suffer less stressful situations. When talking of socialization, we often include habituation, that is, getting a puppy used to different places, sights and sounds so that she becomes confident in new situations and gets used to as many different stimuli as possible.
The most sensitive socialization period begins at around 3 weeks of age and begins to reduce by 12 weeks. Peak sensitivity is between 6 and 8 weeks of age. It is important to remember that many young dogs need continual social interaction to maintain their socialization and failure to do so will mean that they regress or become fearful again. The 6-8 month period is another sensitive time for socialization and owners and trainers can use this window to further habituate and socialize their puppy to different surroundings, people and animals.
It’s recommended that your dog be introduced to new things in a systematic and controlled way. They may well also be challenging, but if done in the right way, your dog will learn that there is no threat and that they’re safe to explore and meet new friends and situations without being fearful. So once your puppy (or dog) is at home with you, it is your job to continue carefully introducing her to different people and animals. It is however important to introduce the puppy to new people, places, objects and situations only when you can completely control the experience.
- Invite friends over and allow them to offer treats to your dog as a reward for meeting them, not jumping, etc
- Avoid unfriendly dogs on walks or at dog parks.
- Avoid people who don’t understand how to be kind and gentle towards animals.
- Introduce your dog to other friendly and healthy dogs (Dog Day Getaway has many doggy playgroups and especially doggy daycare to fit all schedules).
When socializing with your dog, you assess and evaluate your environment. As an example: if you live in the country, try taking your dog into the city and let the dog become accustomed to people and noise. If, however, you live in a town and these things are no problem, take your puppy to the countryside so she can see and smell farm animals and become accustomed to them too. Make sure your dog meets some cats who are dog-friendly. Don’t let her chase them as this will start a life-long habit that will be difficult to change. If your household has no children, introduce your puppy to some children who can regularly play gently with her. Always supervise them to ensure the children are gentle and that your dog is responding well and not becoming nervous or aggressive.