How to Socialize Your Dog

Two white puppies sitting outdoors

As pet owners, we want our dogs to be involved in our lives, which includes our dogs being able to have positive encounters with the new people and pups that we meet in our day-to-day lives. Read on to learn how to socialize your dog, no matter their age, so that they can be the best doggie citizen possible.

Socializing your Dog

While you can work on socializing your dog at any age, please note that older dogs may need some extra time to progress as compared to socializing puppies. Be patient and don’t give up! Even the smallest improvements will add up over time.

Here are some tips on how to socialize your dog:

Take your dog on walks

Simply taking your dog on regular walks can help him become more comfortable with the environment around him. Walks will help him get used to your neighbours, moving cars and other dogs. Make sure to switch up your route to let your dog experience a variety of new environments and terrains.

Doggie playdates

A great way to meet new dogs is to do so on a one-on-one doggie play date. If you have a friend or family member with a well-socialized dog, invite them over for a walk. This lets both dogs get to know each other in a neutral environment. If both dogs seem relaxed on-leash during their walk, you can work up to introducing them and having them interact off-leash in a fenced-in area.

Visit the dog park

Dog parks are a great way to get your dog used to other dogs and new people. If you’re confident in your dog’s recall ability, this can be a great option to socialize your pet.

However, if your dog is anxious around new dogs, taking him to space filled with multiple unfamiliar dogs may be overwhelming. Instead, try walking around the outside perimeter of the dog park and let him watch the other dogs at a distance. Gradually, let him approach the fence and interact with the dogs. If he is friendly, give him a treat. If he reacts negatively, move him away from the fence and give him a break before approaching again. Over time, he can become confident enough to enter the park.

Meeting New People

If your dog is shy or fearful around new people, make sure to take the following steps to ensure each interaction with a new person is a step in the right direction.

  • Take it slow: Always make sure to introduce your dog to one person at a time. Keep your dog leashed, and have new people approach him slowly.
  • Use treats: Have the person you’re introducing your dog to offer him treats to create a positive association. If your dog isn’t accepting treats from their hand, have them drop the treats nearby to encourage your dog to approach them.
  • Let your dog lead: Allow your dog to approach the new person first, rather than having the new person approach or try to pet your dog first.
  • Be patient: Don’t force your dog to interact with a new person if they are cowering or anxious, as this can make them more afraid. Be patient and be sure to reward your dog when he doesn’t show fear or shyness.

Remember, socialization is an ongoing process. Even if your dog seems to grow more confident, you must keep up introducing them to new places, people and dogs. Think of socialization as practice – the more you practice, the more socialized your dog becomes.  We hope these tips on how to socialize your dog have set you up for success. Happy socializing!

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