Dogs of all ages need to be socialized and exposed to as many things as possible, but puppies have a socialization period early in life that will permanently shape their personality and how they will react to their environment as an adult dog. Many people don’t realize just how important it is to expose your puppy to new people, places, smells, and situations. Dogs that haven’t been properly socialized develop lifelong psychological problems such as fearfulness, anxiety, reactivity, and separation anxiety.
It’s not just about exposing your new puppy to new things, but the type of interaction is just as important. We want to help your puppy become acclimated to new things in a positive manner so when they are older they are more confident, less fearful, and well-mannered.
So what’s the first step to better socializing your animal? To a puppy the whole world is new, so think of everything they encounter as an opportunity to make a new positive association. Taking your puppy on many walks around town and having them meet new people/kids and other dogs can really benefit their behavior and training. Exposing your puppy to the outdoors and other people will help them associate people as friendly and they won’t feel the need to bark/lunge when meeting someone new. Setting up puppy play dates with other dogs or even doing a puppy obedience class will also help your puppy learn that it’s okay to be around other dogs/people. This can be very helpful in vet clinic situations, meeting new family members, adding a new family member to the household, and much more.
Taking your puppy to a park will expose them to countless different smells, including other dogs, people, animals, toys, etc. This is not only a great way to show them new things, but it is also a great opportunity for training as well. Training them what not to eat at a park and leash training them at a young age is very important as they grow older. Along with walking your puppy to new places, another thing you will want to expose them to are car rides. Even for just a 10 minute ride, giving them the opportunity to learn that the car is a safe place will give them confidence and make them less fearful in the future. This makes it a lot easier to travel with them and makes it less stressful for everybody!
Now that we understand that exposing our furry friends to new things are important and will shape their personalities, how do we make these new things a positive experience? Lots of praise and treats are the most effective. Carrying some treats with you as you walk your dog and rewarding them when meeting or passing new people can be very helpful, even having someone else feed them a treat shows them trust. Making sure we are using small pieces of treats so their stomach won’t get upset, but still using the treats as a tool to show them that it’s okay.
In addition to socializing with your new furry friend, it is also important to put them in a positive atmosphere. Obedience classes can help shape the bond you have with your dog, but we want to make sure we continue this at home. We need to continue the training and keep our patience because every day is a new experience that impacts our animal’s life. The goal here is to provide positive reinforcement so your puppy feels happy and safe in every environment, while also learning new things and improving behavior. Seek out a trainer that can help you with your personal pet’s situation and to provide a more tailored plan for improvement.
So what about the dogs you adopt? Well, even older dogs need to be exposed to different stimuli and they need time to get used to your life. Training is still important and taking things slow so that your new dog has time to re-learn and to trust all over again. No matter the age, positive reinforcement will always be an important key factor to a long, loving relationship.
Article written by: Kaylee References: My Happy Pets & http://www.myarlingtonvet.com/blog/training-and-socialization/
1 Image taken from pxhere.com. No changes made. Used under license Creative Commons CC0.
2 Image taken from pxhere.com. No changes made. Used under license Creative Commons CC0.
3 Image taken from pxhere.com. No changes made. Used under license Creative Commons CC0.