You Can’t Socialize Your Dog By Sitting At Home
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You Can’t Socialize Your Dog By Sitting At Home

Many dog breeds seem to be friendly for the most part, but there is not one dog out there that does not benefit from continued socialization. Socialization is a key factor in good mental health for the dog and in making a beloved member of the family. But socialization includes more than just being around other people or dogs. It can include training your dog to be tolerant of being touched on the feet, someone coming close to them when they are eating, or even accepting of loud noises, just to mention a few. If not conducted in a proper manner, you can actually do more harm with your efforts than good. The last thing you want or need is to attempt socialization and have it back fire on you.

Prior to socializing a dog, a person should understand the traits and temperament of the breed of dog they are working with. Often times you can benefit from doing research on your dog’s particular breed to learn about character traits. If you are dealing with a mixed breed, you may want to research all of the breeds involved in your dog’s genealogy. Understanding what challenges may be present can help determine the best method for handling them.

For this article I am referring mainly to keeping your dog socialized around people and other dogs. The more you socialize your dog, the better he or she will respond when confronted with unfamiliar people or dogs. This can be exceptionally true with some small breeds and children. But again, keep in mind when socializing your pet, keeping them under control may be vital to avoiding a serious conflict that could result in injury to the dog or innocent bystanders. Never force a social issue onto your dog. Some dogs may need more time to slowly acclimate to strangers while others may not feel threatened at all. Your dog may respond aggressively to one person but not the next. And there is nothing wrong with that; not every dog likes every person, just as we humans don’t always like everyone we meet. However, as a responsible pet owner you are accountable for making certain no harm comes to anyone at any time, so never force your dog to accept someone.

When working on socialization be sure to offer an escape plan for the dog. Even if it is nothing more than allowing them to jump into your lap or picking them up if they appear nervous, uncomfortable or fearful in a situation. This is important no matter what the age of your dog. He or she must be able to trust that you will protect them or you may end up harming your own relationship in the process.

There are many differences in socializing an adult dog versus a puppy, just as there is with socializing with people versus other dogs. Obviously puppies have the advantage as they are more accepting of new people and situations, especially during the earlier ages of 1 to 4 months. While older dogs may have had some previous bad experiences that have left them anxious, fearful or cautious. When it comes to a rescued adult dog more often than not, you will not have any idea what environment the dog came from. You will not be aware of what things have left negative impressions on him or her as a result of past encounters, so take the process very slow to begin with.

When it comes to socializing with other dogs never assume the other dog is friendly. Play it safe and be prepared for something to go wrong. Do not allow first time encounters to be unsupervised. Typically if you visit a dog park, most of those dogs are friendly and used to being around other dogs, but that does not negate the fact that any dog can unexpectedly turn aggressive. Until you are familiar with the new dog be vigilant in keeping your dog safe. After all it may not be the other dog that suddenly becomes aggressive, it could be yours!

Some common places you can turn to for socialization besides dog parks are pet stores, pet fairs, walking trails, community events even obedience classes can be useful. The important factor is to match the environment to your dog’s social skills. Attempting to socialize a dog for the first time at a community event with a hundreds of people present could be overwhelming. If you don’t know what your dog can handle, assume it is very little and start slow. You can progress as quickly as you need if things are going well. It’s important to avoid sensory overload with unfamiliar noises and smells as well.

If you plan to put your dog in a car to travel to a location for socialization keep in mind the dog’s safety inside your car. This could be the first step in making sure your socializing encounters are positive ones. The last thing you want to do is start the process out by stressing your dog out with a scary car ride. Provide a comfortable and secure seat for your dog. If possible choose a particular seat for your dog to sit in each time he or she gets in the vehicle. For smaller breeds consider using a dog car booster seat, lookout seat or console seat that will elevate them up to a height that allows them to see out the window and get some fresh air if needed. This can go a long way to start the dogs travel experience in a positive manner. Start the training out properly and begin immediately by restraining your dog. Do not wait until they are more comfortable with the car. Get them started right away with understanding that inside the car they stay seated and are not allowed to roam freely.

If you struggle with getting your dog to accept other people and dogs look for a good training book. I don’t think there is a pet owner alive who has not heard of Cesar Milan. Your veterinarian can direct you to proper training materials as well. As with any training, always reward your dog after a positive learning experience. Praise and recognition goes a long way especially when accompanied by a small special treat! Make sure he or she knows how happy their behavior has made you. After all, isn’t that what most dogs live for?

As an avid animal lovers it is one of my goals to help educate people on responsible pet ownership as well as the importance of properly protecting your pet during travel. At my one line store DogCarBoosterSeat our goal to provide a wide selection of car seats that can provide the safety needed to ensure safe travels. If you have questions about this subject, or any other article or blog I have published, please feel free to use the Contact Us page on our website.


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