Many people don’t think about how important it is to socialize their dog with people, but it is a key step to making a healthy and well-adjusted dog.
Here’s how you can socialize your dog with people safely.
5 Tips for Safe Socialization with Humans
Go for a Walk
One of the most important and easiest ways to socialize your dog is to just take them out for a walk. Most dogs have a comfortable spot at home where they’ll doze. Your dog might even have a favorite spot where they like to watch everything that passes by.
That’s perfectly fine, but your dog might not learn that the things outside their window are safe. If your dog barks at everything, it’s probably because they think the outside world is threatening. By taking them outside often, they can learn that the people and other animals are not a threat. Heck, they might even make some neighborhood friends while they’re out on their walk.
Meet as Many People as Possible
Not only do you want to get your dog out of the house, but you’ll want to expose them to as many different people and things as possible. It’s important that your dog be exposed to as much diversity as you can. By exposing them to many different people of different genders and ages, you can ensure that your dog will not favor one kind of person and be distrustful of others. Though, they’ll certainly favor you best of all.
The best way to make sure your dog gets socialized properly is by starting as early as you can. Young dogs are full of curiosity and will love to have new experiences and meet new people. You should also get your dog used to being handled as well. It’s important that you and your friends pet them when possible. Handle their ears, paws, tail, and mouth.
By letting your dog have these experiences, you’re increasing the odds that they’ll behave when other people handle them. Your vet and groomer will thank you for that. Dogs over the age of four months get a little bit harder to socialize if they haven’t had these experiences. Though, a dog can be socialized at any age.
Take a Class
If you don’t live with other people or your family is far away, you can consider signing up for a doggie class. Most large pet stores occasionally run classes, or you may even look at your local park district to see if they have any offerings. Obedience classes can be a great way for your dog to meet new people and dogs. They’ll probably have a great time, and it’s a bonding experience for you and your pup.
Try a Dog Park
Another way to get your dog used to other people is by taking them to a dog park. Dog parks are usually enclosed areas that dog owners can let their dogs loose. The dogs can play with each other and other people to their heart’s content.
The biggest benefit of a dog park is that everyone is there to have fun with their dog, so most people will be very dog friendly. Just make sure you keep an eye on your dog and bring some doggie bags with you.
Socializing an Adult Dog
Most dog breeders know the importance of socializing their puppies. A new pup should spend lots of time around their littermates and around other people so by the time they get to you, they should be well socialized.
Sometimes this is not the case, however. Sometimes dogs come from unknown circumstances or seem to have been mistreated. Even if your adult dog doesn’t seem to have been socialized well, you can still work on it. If you are working to socialize an adult dog, keep these points in mind:
- Always go slow. – Introducing too many new experiences at once can overwhelm a dog that is already in a stressful situation.
- Keep your dog on a leash and consider a muzzle. – Until you are completely certain that you know how your dog will react, it’s best to keep them very close to you. If they are aggressive with other people or animals, a muzzle will make sure everyone is safe.
- Don’t force your dog. – If you’re trying to socialize an adult dog, they may be feeling anxiety when put into new situations. You never want to “force” your dog into stressful situations as they can react in unpredictable ways. Try keeping exposure slow and let your dog’s natural curiosity lead them.