Whether you’ve got a newborn puppy on your hands or have a long-time companion, socialization is one of the most important training steps for your dog’s development.
All dogs need to socialize in various situations with different communities of animals and people. This essential training will help your dog feel more confident in their day-to-day life, decreasing the chances of outbursts, anxiety, or boredom-induced behaviors. A confident, well-adjusted dog has a greater quality of life, so taking the steps to ensure that they are comfortable in their surroundings is worth the necessary work.
Dogs looking to socialize more or gain confidence around groups can enjoy dog daycare at Greenlin any day of the week! If you feel like your dog needs more help getting to the point where it can socialize, you can also enroll in group or one-on-one training with qualified, certified instructors through dog training at Greenlin Pet Resorts.
What Exactly Is Socialization, and How Does It Work?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “socialization is the process of preparing a dog or cat to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities.”
They suggest that the best period to socialize a dog is during its puppy phase. Exposure to various environments, animals, and people, can help the animal be less fearful during encounters and better equipped to handle a broad variety of situations.
Socializing your dog involves, essentially, desensitizing them to various types of environments. Think about it this way: you probably wouldn’t want to take a four-week-old puppy with no siblings and no experience with other pups to a crowded dog park on a sunny Saturday afternoon. However, if you gradually introduce new experiences to your dog, you can socialize them in practically any environment. The idea is to help them have good experiences in these situations while encouraging the right behaviors. By guiding them, you are helping your furry family member understand the world around them in a safe, non-threatening way.
The best techniques for socialization start with getting your dog to fully trust you, and then slowly introducing new factors like seeing other dogs at an on-leash walking trail. Gradually, you can move them up to pet play dates and dog park visits.
All dogs are different, and different levels of attention and repetitiveness are necessary for different dogs. Let your dog tell you when they’re ready to increase their social stimulus and explore new environments. You just might find that your pup is more confident than you think!
Socializing A New Dog In Your Home
Regardless of their age, socialization should start the moment you bring home a new furry addition to your family.
Start with socializing the new animal with the people in your home and the foreign environment around them. Spend quality time with them and introduce them to homey apparatuses like sinks and couches. Some dogs may have never seen something as common as stairs before, and so they may need a bit of guidance before gaining the confidence to approach the steps on their own.
While these may seem like basic tasks, by successfully helping your dog learn in an environment as common as your house, you are gaining experience in socialization training. Of course, there is a long journey ahead, but this is a great start.
Starting Young, and How Puppy Socialization Is Crucial Development
The prime stage of three weeks to three months is a crucial stage of dog socialization. It is at this early age that you can socialize a dog to practically any environment and they can easily maintain that confidence throughout their whole lives.
Introducing your dog to other creatures like cats, birds, bunnies, reptiles, or even babies at this stage is much easier, and you may honestly see results a lot sooner. Think about it: you don’t want to encounter a community cat or a hopping bunny on your walk with an energetic toddler pup that has never seen such a unique creature!
Not only is this a great time to socialize your pup with other animals, but also with other dogs. The puppy stage is a great way to teach dog etiquette from a young age. This way your dog has an easier time playing with others and can enjoy the company of canine friends. A puppy with siblings has a great advantage, but leash training and dog park visits are great ways for your pup to see new environments and build new relationships.
Socializing An Older Pup
You are not at a disadvantage if you are working on socializing an older dog! In fact, there may be some amazing benefits to adopting a senior dog and trying to socialize them in new environments.
In this case, your dog needs to fully trust you and your guidance, meaning that you’ll build a closer relationship through training and exploring together. Older dogs also tend to be more patient, so you can train longer and at a slower pace, which is good for beginners who have little experience training a dog.
Older dogs who missed out on early socialization are more prone to social anxiety, meaning that while they are patient with you, you must also return the effort and stay patient with them. Something that you may know as harmless could be considered a dangerous nightmare to an older dog, especially one who had bad experiences in their life before you. Remember to stay calm and not push them too far out of their comfort zone at any given time.
Recognizing Social Anxiety In Dogs
Social anxiety occurs when your dog has a general fear of other dogs/animals or people and a lack of trust in the environment around them. It is usually portrayed through unusual behaviors like excessive growling, hiding/crouching, or even extreme signs like uncontrollable urination/defecation.
Animals that have been abused or heavily isolated are more likely to experience canine anxiety. In these cases, socialization is even more important to them, but it should be approached slowly. With patience and gradual exposure to unfamiliar situations, you can help them gain the confidence they deserve to have for a happy life away from abuse.
Note that dogs who are not carefully introduced to overwhelming stimuli can experience levels of anxiety as well, so learn your dog’s cues and remember not to push them too hard.
Dog Training At Greenlin Pet Resorts
You don’t have to train alone! Our qualified team of dog trainers can help you learn new techniques to bring home with your pup, and provide one-on-one training sessions that are custom-built for your dog’s needs.
We understand not every dog can learn the same way, so that’s why we offer a free initial consultation with you and your pup where we learn a little bit about them and determine the best course of action for training. Our dog training philosophy is all about teaching dogs verbal commands in a positive way!
You can also drop your dog off at dog daycare any time to help them learn, grow, and become comfortable in a pack of like-minded friends. We separate playgroups by comfort level and age, so you never have to worry about pushing your pup too far outside their comfort zone too early.
Visit us online and schedule an appointment with your closest location of Greenlin Pet Resorts.