The majority of dog owners are aware that socializing a dog is best done when the dog is still a puppy. Between the ages of three and twelve weeks, a dog is most sensitive and receptive, thus the earlier you can socialize your dog, the better. After twelve weeks, a puppy may be quite resistant to anything new or unfamiliar.
Unfortunately, socializing a dog well during this window isn’t always possible. Perhaps as a young puppy, your dog suffered from a serious illness, and your veterinarian advised keeping them inside and away from other dogs. Or maybe you found them later in life and they simply never had a good chance to meet people.
Whatever the reason, your dog doesn’t have to live a life without companions or the opportunity to freely play with others because they weren’t socialized as a puppy. Here is some advice on how to socialize your dog:
Dog walks are fantastic ways for your dog to observe and maybe interact with other dogs and humans while also practicing polite conduct in public.
Why? Well, for one thing, because going for a stroll will always put you in more social circumstances than staying at home. However, walks are also great for socializing dogs because they will be calmer and more obedient because they will have less pent-up energy as a result of the exercise.
Remember not to yell at your dog or pull back on the leash if they bark or otherwise act out because this will just make them more excited, make the experience unpleasant, and teach them to associate that enthusiasm with other dogs.
Instead, keep your energy calm and assertive while distracting them with a reprimand, such as a sound you’ve trained them to respond to, a fast tug of the leash in a sideways direction, or a touch. You can always peacefully leave if all else fails.
If you are aware that your dog barks or growls at other dogs, wearing a muzzle can make things easier.
Of course, this eliminates the possibility of biting or attacking, but it may also reduce tension between the dogs, allowing for a more enjoyable meeting encounter.
Don’t rush things, but if you can get your dog involved in one new activity per week, it will help them socialize and stay calm and well-behaved. This can be accomplished by using a leash and muzzle, as well as by initially training your dog to be an observer.
For instance, you may gradually introduce your unsocialized dog to dog parks by strolling them around the perimeter of the fence and letting them observe the dogs having fun instead of just bringing them in and hoping for the best.
Socialize your dog doesn’t have to be something that you struggle through on your own, you can always reach out to a dog trainer for additional help.
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