When families welcome a dog into their family, they frequently hold many preconceived notions. They picture idyllic walks and play dates at the dog park. In all of these scenarios, their dog is happy and well behaved. New sights, sounds and smells do not bother him, and he is friendly toward all of the people and dogs that he encounters.
Unfortunately, reality sometimes falls short of these notions. Puppies and even adult dogs may be made uneasy by all sorts of things ranging from loud noises to unknown people. What can a pet parent do to help ensure that their pup is most likely to react appropriately in any situation?
The answer is to ensure that the dog gets plenty of socialization. Good socialization takes time, consistency and effort, but it definitely pays huge dividends.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to help your puppy through the socialization process.
Daily walks are fantastic for you and your dog. You both get to exercise, and for your dog, each walk is an opportunity to see, hear and smell new things. This is why it’s a good idea to have various walking routes that you and your pup regularly enjoy. When you always walk the same route, this minimizes how many new experiences your pup is likely to have. Take your dog on walks in many different areas to offer a variety of stimuli and possible opportunities to socialize.
Introduce New Places
Going new places is fun and exciting for you, and it’s stimulating for your dog too. Just imagine all of the new things that she’ll be able to smell and discover at a new park or on an unfamiliar trail. When she’s ready, you might try taking her into a dog-friendly store or a friend’s house. Give her plenty of quiet time to sniff and explore so that she gets familiar and comfortable in this new environment.
Before introducing your dog to a new place, consider where she is in the socialization process. If it’s still new to her, then you might want to go to a quieter, less busy and less visited place so that she doesn’t get overwhelmed and over-stimulated. Eventually, she’ll be ready to go to crowded, busy places where there’s a lot going on.
Introduce New Sounds
Unfamiliar, loud noises can startle dogs and make them distinctly uncomfortable. When you have your dog out and about with you, it’s impossible to control all of the sounds that he might hear, and you don’t want him to react with fear or aggression.
Begin the sound socialization process at home by exposing your dog to all sorts of sounds around the house. The dishwasher, a hair dryer, the vacuum cleaner and the kids at play are all examples of sounds to which you can help your dog grow accustomed.
When your dog reacts appropriately to a loud, unexpected sound, be certain to offer praise and treats to reinforce this positive behavior.
Introduce New Smells
Have you ever felt impatient with your dog when she insists on sniffing a certain spot for several minutes at a time? It turns out that this sniffing behavior is critical to your pup’s socialization and well-being. Think of it as your dog checking in on Facebook. She’s using her nose to see what other dogs are up to and checking to see if there are other animals in the area.
Give your dog all the time she craves when she stops to smell things on a walk. Moreover, make certain that you expose her to new and different smells at home where she is probably the most comfortable. If you give her plenty of latitude to experience new and different smells, then she is less likely to react with aggression or fear when encountering an unusual scent out in public.
Whether they are puppies, adolescents or adult dogs, many pups can benefit from taking classes with other dogs. Basic handling and behavior classes certainly are valuable and offer excellent places to start. However, you may be able to enroll your dog in a socialization class that is designed to help him gain confidence in a variety of unfamiliar situations.
Classes are a fantastic way for your dog to socialize with like-minded people and other dogs. Best of all, you’ll have a knowledgeable teacher on hand to guide you through the process of ensuring that your dog is confident and well-adjusted.
Offer Praise and Rewards
No amount of scolding or yelling is likely to be beneficial to your dog’s behavior. Instead, expert trainers and behaviorists recommend offering praise and rewards. Lavish positive attention on your pooch each time she demonstrates calm, appropriate behavior in a situation that might be stressful. Verbal praise, petting, play time and treats are all excellent examples that reward your dog’s positive behavior.
Introduce Your Dog to Doglando
At Doglando, we believe that it’s a dog’s life, and in order for your pup to have the best life possible, it’s essential that he be properly socialized. Whether your dog is just a puppy or is an adult dog that occasionally exhibits undesirable behavior, enroll him in one of the rewarding classes at Doglando. We offer many opportunities for socialization to help your dog achieve the confidence and poise that he needs to meet any situation.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.