If you’re a first-time dog boarder, you may feel apprehensive about leaving your pet on its own. This is especially true for dogs that haven’t had many opportunities to meet or play with other animals and humans. Thankfully, dog boarding has many benefits, including socialization.
Many dogs only have human companionship, and as a result, interacting with other dogs can be awkward — sometimes even a struggle. Counter to what you might expect, a dog that has trouble getting along with other pets in settings like the park or a family gathering may improve after a stay at a boarding facility. This guide explains why pet boarding can help your dog improve its social skills.
How to Teach Your Dog Social Skills: What Dogs Learn About Socializing From a Young Age
Whether using boarding as a puppy or as a fully grown dog, having a stay outside the familiar home setting can be beneficial towards socialization.
Socializing While Boarding as a Puppy
Like most young animals, dogs start learning about the world soon after birth. Puppies pick up cues about interacting with other animals and people from their parents and the humans around them.
Puppies are believed to be in their optimal socialization stage between the age of 3-14 weeks. First, they learn about group dynamics from interacting with their parents and their siblings. As they seek out food and attention, they find ways to get their needs met and discover how to function in a group.
As your puppy grows, you’ll need to provide more opportunities for socialization. This task will primarily consist of introducing your puppy to other animals and people in safe, controlled situations. Consult with your veterinarian before starting this process to verify that your puppy is safe to start interacting with other animals. Puppies can contract fatal diseases from other dogs, so your vet may recommend certain vaccinations or protocols before your puppy can socialize safely.
Once your puppy is safe to start exploring its world, try to visit new places frequently. Check out parks, small gatherings, or pet-friendly shops to help the puppy get accustomed to a variety of places. At this stage, it’s generally safe to introduce your young dog on a leash to other animals, like cats, horses, or small pets. Further, this is a good time to get your puppy used to meeting new people.
Keep an eye on the puppy to ensure it is safe and comfortable, and take care to remove the puppy from the situation if it seems stressed or overstimulated. Naturally, puppies may be apprehensive in new settings at first. Over time, through the process of repeated exposure, a healthy puppy will adjust and settle in.
Socializing as a Grown Dog
Socialized puppies tend to grow into well-adjusted dogs. However, every animal is different, and new situations can lead to unpredictable behaviors. Therefore, it’s wise to carefully introduce your dog to novel places and people, even if it has had years of experience interacting with others. If your dog has aggressive tendencies, you must be extra vigilant around other pets and humans, especially children.
Dog owners should make an effort to include social activities in their dog’s daily routines. Try to visit parks, get together with other dogs for playdates, or participate in training or classes. Like humans, consistent socializing is key to helping your dog lead a vibrant life.
How to Teach Your Dog Social Skills: Is Special Training Necessary?
With an attentive and dedicated owner, your dog likely won’t need special training for socialization. However, there are situations where extra support may be necessary.
For instance, if you adopted or rescued a dog from an abusive or neglectful situation, it may lack fundamental social skills. The dog may be skittish, fearful, or aggressive since it doesn’t know who it can trust. In these cases, you could benefit from retaining a skilled trainer who can help you build a rapport with your new pet. They’ll teach you methods for building trust, help you identify triggering behaviors or situations, and provide support as you establish a relationship.
Socialization may also be a challenge for grown dogs that weren’t properly socialized as puppies, or for dogs with aggressive tendencies. If your dog didn’t interact with other animals in its youth, a trainer can teach you how to safely introduce other animals and people in controlled situations. Even old dogs can learn how to interact safely in social situations.
Finally, if your dog tends to respond with defensiveness or over-assertiveness, a trainer will use specialized methods and techniques to get to the heart of the aggression and to de-escalate their behaviors. You may have “homework” to work on with your dog outside of training sessions. However, you’ll have plenty of guidance from your trainer to safely and effectively work with your dog at home.
How Pet Boarding Helps Your Dog Develop Social Skills
Socialization is a skill that dogs must practice in order to master. Dog boarding facilities provide the ideal environment for your dog to continue developing its social skills. A reputable facility will have room for dogs to roam, play, and relax, along with plenty of oversight from experienced trainers and staff. Further, you can pair training sessions with your dog’s stay if you think they could use some one-on-one attention.
Pet boarding benefits your dog in the following ways:
- Added confidence and independence: As your young dog starts to explore the world, they may feel trepidation about wandering too far from your side. Staying at a boarding facility helps them develop independence. Your dog may also develop more confidence knowing that they can be on their own. Both of these abilities are useful for getting to know other dogs in a safe, healthy way.
- Comfort with a set routine: Routines are valuable for helping your dog feel calm and relaxed. When your dog feels relaxed, it’ll be easier for it to socialize and make new friends. Boarding facilities build their programming around routines that include set meal times and play times.
- Offers a mix of personal and social space: Like humans, dogs can get overwhelmed if they spend too much time around other people or animals. A good boarding facility has a mix of private kennels and common play areas. In this setting, dogs set their own pace for playing and socializing, which prevents burnout and helps the animals set healthy boundaries. This is especially valuable if they come from a home with limited privacy because of an abundance of other pets, young children, or adult human roommates.
- Exposure to a new environment: If your dog thrives in social situations at home or at the local park, but struggles in new settings, your dog can expand its horizons at a boarding facility. Even during a short stay, your pet will have plenty of opportunities to interact with other boarders and learn how to approach these situations positively.
- Opportunities for training: Many boarding facilities offer dog training. If your dog is staying at a boarding facility for any period of time, you may have the option of adding a training package. A few lessons with a talented trainer can dramatically boost your dog’s social skills while equipping you as an owner with tips for further development in the home setting.
How Greenlin Pet Resorts Can Help You
Greenlin Pet Resorts is highly rated training and boarding facility with six convenient locations near Harrisburg, PA. Each location offers spacious kennels and play areas, trained staff, and options for one-on-one classes and dog training.
As a family-owned business, Greenlin focuses on providing excellent customer service to its clients and their pets. They have 20+ years of experience in training and boarding pets with hundreds of great reviews.
Contact Greenlin today at the location nearest to you to set up a personalized tour for you and your pet.