Ideally you socialize your dog when they are a puppy. During their first year, puppies are the most sensitive and receptive to new experiences. If you are working on socializing your puppy it is important to start with the familiar, be cautious with other dogs, and stick to a routine.
Start with the Familiar
At first when you are socializing your dog with individuals and other animals, it is important you start with what is familiar to them. Start in a setting that they feel comfortable in. Have people over to your home that your dog will likely interact with in the future, and let them go at their own pace. Daily Paws says this will help your dog familiarize themselves with different scents and personalities without getting overwhelmed. Take your dog for frequent walks in the same area. This will help expose them to new sights, sounds, smells, etc. within a geographical area that becomes more and more familiar to them.
Be Cautious with Other Dogs
Be cautious when introducing your dog to other dogs. Do not divert your attention away from the animals. According to Ahlander Injury Law, if your dog feels defensive or threatened, they may attack the other dog, which can open you up to a lot of trouble. You need to slowly introduce them so that they can become comfortable with minimal stress. Introductions should happen on a leash with dogs similar in size or breed, so your dog feels most comfortable. When they are old enough, taking them to the dog park will teach them how to be around and play with other dogs too.
Stick to a Routine
Animals, particularly dogs, are creatures of habit. According to The Dog People, dogs love routines so they can become familiar with your habits and feel a sense of security. When things are routine, they are not confused and constantly reacting to unique situations. If you do break routine, like going on a camping trip, do your best to provide consistency amidst the strangeness. Feeding times, a place for them to be alone, and strict commands will help your dog socialize and become more familiar with your lifestyle.
Training a dog takes work. As you invest energy into familiarizing them with their surroundings, they will become better socialized and well behaved. Soon, they’ll truly become your best furry friend, and everyone else’s!
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