21 Aug 2014
Whether you have a new puppy or an adult dog, or whether you have a dog from an animal shelter or from a breeder, one thing that all dogs share is a need for good socialization. Socialization helps the dog learn the social skills he needs to deal with other dogs and with humans. It helps dogs know how to behave in public. Well-socialized dogs learn about the world and develop a self-confidence that helps them in every aspect of their lives.
Socializing a puppy
The easiest time to socialize a dog is when he’s a puppy. This is because puppies don’t have any fears yet. You can introduce your puppy to everything for the first time and help him have good experiences. If he is reluctant about something or afraid, you can show him that there’s nothing to fear and help build his confidence.
Some of the things that you should introduce your puppy to in the home include the following:
- Radios and stereos
- Vacuum cleaners
- Kitchen appliances (dishwasher, blenders, other things that are noisy)
If your puppy is fearful of some of these things, such as the vacuum, you can encourage him to investigate it when it’s turned off. Let him play around it. Praise him and give him treats. Do not scare him with the vacuum or other things that could frighten him. Instead, show him that they won’t hurt him even when they are making noise. Don’t force your puppy to be close to these objects if he is scared. Let him get used to them and praise and reward him when he is relaxed around them.
For other common house and yard items, such as the lawn mower or weed eater, you should not encourage your puppy to get too close to them since they can be dangerous. However, you can praise and reward him for being calm when you use them.
Outside the home you can take your puppy to places where puppies and dogs are welcome so they can meet friendly strangers. Some people like to take their dog to pet supply stores that welcome dogs so people can pet them. You can also take your puppy to the park if dogs are welcome there. It’s best to avoid the dog park with a young puppy since some dogs can play too roughly and your puppy could be hurt. Dog parks can also be a place where canine diseases are passed so please don’t take your puppy there if he has not had his vaccinations.
One excellent way to socialize puppies is by enrolling them in a puppy preschool or puppy kindergarten class. These classes are often offered by pet supply stores, dog trainers, and kennel clubs. You can probably find one in your area. They are aimed at young puppies so they can gain some socialization with other puppies, have some interaction with other people, and learn some basic good manners. They are highly recommended. A puppy who goes to puppy preschool class will be ready to start a good basic obedience class when he’s a little older.
Socializing an older dog
Socializing an older dog can be a little harder but it can still be done. If you have obtained an adult dog from an animal shelter or from a breeder, you can cover the same things you would cover with a puppy. Try to find out if the dog has any particular fears or problems that you need to address. For example, some dogs can be fearful about men in hats. You’ll need to keep this in mind, especially if you encounter any men in hats. It might take some time for you to help your dog overcome this issue. Do not force your dog to meet men in hats. This will only make your dog more fearful. Instead, you can let your dog get used to hats, meet women in hats, meet men who put hats on and take them off, and so on. This can be a slow process and some dogs might never overcome this kind of issue. But this gives you some idea of the things you can do. You should praise and reward your dog for any small progress. And remember not to do anything to force your dog or scare him further.
Older dogs often benefit from a good obedience training class with their owner. Being in a class setting with a good teacher and learning new lessons often helps the dog build confidence which, in turn, is a good way to help with the dog’s socialization.