You probably often hear that socialization with people and other dogs is an important part of keeping your dog happy and well adjusted. Here are just a few reasons to socialize your dog:
Your dog learns to play
As puppies, dogs play with litter mates and other dogs in their “pack”. They rough house and play-bite and through this kind of play, puppies learn boundaries and limits in terms of how rough they can be with their playmates and other dogs. Continuing to play with dogs throughout its life will reinforce your dog’s social skills when encountering others of its kind.
Tip: Socialization with litter mates is one reason why it is so important that a puppy does not get separated from its mother or siblings before it is 8 weeks old (sometimes even older). If buying a puppy, make sure that it has not been weaned before 8 weeks of age!
Your dog gets accustomed to different types of people
Have you ever met or heard of a dog that just doesn’t like certain people? Perhaps it is fearful of people of a certain age, gender, sometimes even ethnicity? One bad experience can make your dog associate that type of person with negative experiences. This is why it’s important that your dog meet as many different kinds of people as possible in a positive setting as a puppy and throughout its life.
Tip: When you have guests at your house, if they don’t mind, get them to interact with your dog (even if only for a few minutes). Make sure that the experience is a positive one for your dog. For example, you can get your guest to give your dog a treat, toy, or even just a scratch. Start taking your dog with you to the shops and as many other places as possible to make sure it encounters different kinds of people. Set your dog up to succeed by ensuring the attention it gets is pleasant and positive. If your dog starts looking overwhelmed from too much attention or excitement, lead it away to settle down and relax. The sooner in your dog’s life that you can start socializing it with people the better.
Socialization helps to build your dog’s confidence
Meeting people and other dogs in positive settings will help your dog to build confidence in itself. A nervous dog can display aggression out of fear. A confident dog that is accustomed to encountering different people and animals can stay calm and friendly (or just indifferent, if it isn’t the playful kind) without reacting out of fear or confusion.
Tip: Start socializing your dog with other dogs as early as possible. If you just brought home a new puppy, wait until it has its initial vaccinations before exposing it to new dogs. After that, allow your dog to meet other dogs, especially calm and confident adult dogs. Do not expose your puppy to dogs you don’t know and trust, or dogs who appear fearful, aggressive, or ill.
Dogs require ongoing socialization with other dogs and people throughout their lives. Taking your dog for a walk at the park or putting together a doggie playgroup can be a great way to socialize your dog. Many owners find dog daycare a great option to keep their dogs from being cooped up in the house alone while they are at work. Ongoing socialization plays an important part in keeping your four legged friend happy and healthy.
Liza is a passionate dog owner and writes for K9 to 5, who are professional dog groomers in Perth, Western Australia. They offer dog grooming, dog day care, and other services. K9 to 5 staff are experienced and qualified animal carers and owners, including vet nurses and professional groomers.