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Three Ways to Socialize Your Dog
Multiple times on a daily basis, I see it; dogs come into my work either scared of other dogs, of me, or just scared of being in the veterinary clinic. Clients tell me that their dog is scared of everything, and they laugh it off like their pup is just a big chicken. Why does your dog have to be scared of everything? They don't! There are steps you can take to make your dog more comfortable in a variety of situations.
Socializing with Other Pets
Socializing with other pets is very important for your pup. Doing so will make them much more comfortable around other dogs, whether it be at the park, on a walk, or in a veterinary clinic.
Socializing with other pets can either be a lot of fun, or it can be extremely dangerous. Dogs that don't get along can become highly aggressive, and it is important to know how to handle that situation. Make sure to educate yourself on what aggressive body language looks like in a dog. This can include any of the following:
- Ears pinned back
- Teeth bared
- Growling and barking
- Forward stance
Understand that just because your dog is wagging his or her tail, that doesn't mean they are happy or excited. Many dogs will wag their tail in a short and quick manner when in a situation they aren't comfortable with. When introducing your dog to another, follow these steps:
- Keeping your dog on a leash, allow them to see the other dog.
- If they are still comfortable with each other, slowly approach the other dog.
- Allow them to sniff each other (on a loose leash) for five seconds. If they haven't decided how they feel about each other in five seconds, then it is time to separate them.
- If they get along on the leash, allow them a little more slack to get to know each other.
- If they are still comfortable with each other, go ahead and let them off their leashes (if the environment is appropriate).
Understand that this whole process must happen when entering a new environment, especially when going into one of the two pets homes or yards. Dogs will become territorial of their home and yard, so go slow and make sure they will get along before assuming so.
If at any point a dog fight begins, do not try to put your hands between them; there is a fair chance you will get bit. Instead, separate them with a broom or chair. Put some kind of barrier between them to distract them and keep them from harming each other.
Socializing with Other People
Socializing your pup with other people is somewhat similar to socializing dogs. The difference being how the new person will approach the dog. CLICK HERE to read my article on how to approach a new dog.
Socializing with new people is also importable for you and your dog. This allows your dog to be comfortable whenever a new person pets them or meeting the veterinarian. Remember to go slow and allow your pup to meet any person that he seems comfortable approaching. Never feel awkward talking someone through properly approaching your dog; they probably didn't know the right way to do it anyways!
Socializing in Other Environments
Finally, socialize your pet in many environments. Do they hate going to the veterinary clinic? Great! Take them there weekly, bring lots of treats, and let the staff say hi! This is the number one most uncomfortable place for most pets, so expose them to it all the time. Expose them to it just to give them treats and make them love being there! If they get too worked up at the park, then take them to the park more. Doing so will make them understand that the park isn't a once in a lifetime event, and they don't have to get so worked up to be there.
Expose your pup to as many places as possible, as many situations as possible, and as often as possible. It is important to note that dogs have a period in their life where they are most influential; this is at the age of four to eight weeks old. It is much easier to socialize dogs at this age, when they are more open-minded to different situations. Imagine growing up being told that fish is disgusting; you probably will be somewhat weary to try fish. Now, imagine that you grew up trying a variety of seafood; it would be much less daunting to try a new kind of fish as an adult! It's the same idea with your pup! That being said, the idea that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is a myth. Your older dog is perfectly capable of learning, but it might just take some time.
Implement these tips, be patient, and you will see results!
What do you do to socialize you pup? What situations does your dog seem to have a hard time with?
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