Even if your dog is your only pet, occasions will arise when your pup needs to know how to play nicely with others. Therefore, socialization is an important skill to teach your pup.
The following seven suggestions will help you teach your pup how to play nicely with other dogs or humans at the park, or just be friendly during your morning walk.
Timing is Everything
Raising a happy and healthy pooch includes letting him stay with mom for at least eight weeks before taking him home. Letting your dog interact with mom and siblings will teach him how to have healthy interactions with others.
Happy interactions have a significant impact on your dog until he is about three to four months old. Take advantage of this time window and provide as many positive experiences as possible.
Before teaching your dog how to play nicely with other pups, it’s important to make sure they have all of the necessary vaccinations. Even though early experiences are important for proper development, be careful what animals you expose your dog to. Because your pooch won’t have all of his necessary shots for a few months, you may be putting the puppy at risk for certain diseases. Stick with older dogs that already have all vaccinations.
Watch for Signs of Stress
Continually placing your dog in a stressful situation is not going to help your puppy’s social skills. Your dog may become withdrawn or angry if you don’t balance socialization with alone or one-on-one time.
Remove your dog from the situation if you notice any of these signs for an extended period of time:
- Excessive sleeping
- Ears down and back
- Physically turning away from approaching people and/or animals
- Clinging or cowering
- Tucking their tail around them
- Constantly licking their lips
Make a Game of It
Create simple games to help your dog get acclimated to the people in their life. Try this to start:
Have everyone sit in a circle around the puppy, holding a small bag of dry dog food. Each person takes turns holding out some food and calling the dog by name. Once the dog comes forward and takes some of the food, make sure to give him treats and a lot of praise. Continue until every person has offered food.
Choose Appropriate Playmates
Your tiny pooch shouldn’t be playing with a Mastiff. Choose dogs of similar size and temperament to yours. Even the gentlest large dog could inadvertently hurt your pup.
The same is true with humans. Your hyperactive toddler may be too much for your laid-back breed to handle at first. Expose your puppy in small doses.
Don’t Raise an Outdoor Dog
Indoor dogs that live amongst humans will do better in situations with a lot of people. Allowing your dog to stay inside most of the time will teach them how to handle a variety of situations and personalities.
Dogs that are treated like family members naturally behave better around people and other dogs. They’re less affected by commotion and other situations that might make outdoor animals suspicious.
Expose Your Dog to a Variety of Different Experiences
Putting the dog outside every time something happens may be easier for you, but you’re depriving your dog of the ability to learn when situations that appear scary really aren’t. Don’t put your puppy outdoors just because you have to run the vacuum or want to play some music.
Don’t Overdo It
While it’s important to push the boundaries a little, you don’t want to expose your dog to so many new experiences that they end up feeling stressed. Start with short periods of socialization training, then increase the timing as your pup grows more accustomed. They have plenty of time to learn before becoming a social butterfly; pushing it too hard will ruin your chances of helping.
With a little bit of patience and a deep understanding of your dog’s stress signals, you’ll be able to take your dog with you on social outings in no time!