Whether you get a dog as a puppy or adopt them as an older dog, it is important to socialize them to avoid separation anxiety, aggression, and shy behavior. Although some dogs don’t need to be socialized, or your adopted pup seems social it is always smart to keep up with some of these tools in order to lessen the chances of bad habits popping up over time. Piece together some of our favorite tips below to keep you and your furry friend happy and anxiety free!
- Start Slow: The last thing you want to do is be overwhelmed or overwhelm your pup. The best idea is to start slow and start with small things. Do your best to pick a controlled environment where you can easily step in if needed. This can look something like a short walk around the block, or a planned puppy play date where you and the other owner can keep a close watch on how both dogs are reacting to the environment.
- Walk it out: Taking time each day to get your dog out of the house and on the walk is a simple way to expose them to new dogs, people, and environments. This still allows you to be in control of the situation as your pup will be on a leash, but will also expose them to a lot of new things along the way. The best part is, if either one of you get overwhelmed or nervous, just head on back home immediately. A quick tip to teach the dog how to act on a walk is bringing treats to reinforce when they interact with other humans and dogs positively.
- Add variety to the mix: Unfortunately, many pet owners believe they have socialized their dog, but have only taught them to be comfortable around certain people and dogs. How to avoid this is to have the dogs around a variety of people and animals. For a variety of people, we want to ensure they are comfortable around both men and women and children and adults. This is especially important for adopted dogs that may have been abused or neglected, in case they were neglected by a certain type of person. Additionally, having them around a variety of sized of dogs, and including some cats in the mix are important so you can be comfortable with wherever you may go where there are other animals.
- Spend some time alone: As much as we are talking about socializing and getting your pup around other people and places, it is just as important to prepare them to not be around their owner or the family. The best way to do this is to leave them alone for a little bit. Now, this is not the time to leave your furry family member alone for a whole day right out of the gate, but take things slow. Try running out for 10 to 20 minutes at the beginning to grab a coffee or run a quick errand. Then work your way up to a few hours and in no time your pup will be comfortable to spend the day alone if needed. As you start to spend more time away from your dog, do not forget to leave them with water and things to keep them distracted such as some of their favorite toys, or background sound on the TV. This will allow you to leave when needed and will prepare the dogs to be away from you in the case of a vacation or long weekend.
Socialization for your furry friend is a process that needs to be done throughout their lives to make sure they never get too comfortable or start to develop some bad habits. Although it is easier to socialize a dog as a puppy, it is never too late, and can start at any age. Take these tips, and happy socializing!