May 13, 2019 4 min read
When it comes to your furry friend, we all know that you want to spend as much time alone with them as possible! After all, they do grow up so fast...but when you are not aware of the benefits of socializing your dog, they may develop an anti-social reaction toward other dogs and humans depending on your pup’s personality.
Socializing your pup and making sure they’re comfortable with other creatures is a significant part of raising them. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, getting our dogs socialized has been harder and harder. However, this has just led to more reactivity and less mental stability.
The best way to socialize your pup is to start when they are young. With older or rescued dogs, training and practice are both necessary for them to become comfortably socialized. But if you adopted or rescued your pup, odds are they’re not going to be a puppy.
The key to socializing your dog is to make each new experience fun and exciting! Never force your puppy into something they are scared of- especially if they are experiencing a fear period. Instead, slowly work up to new exposures. This builds confidence in your dog that new things are fun, and they can handle it.
A well-socialized puppy will be relaxed in a new environment, around new people, and with unknown noises. By giving your pup lots of treats and toys during their socialization, they will understand that new exposures mean fun things are coming!
Dogs who were not socialized as puppies can have things popping into their life that they have never seen before, which can be terrifying! Our furry friends cannot tell us that they are scared with words, so they bark, growl, or even bite. Socializing your pup early with fun interactions can reduce their fear and create better behavior as they grow older.
Many cases where dogs bite children or get into fights are the harsh results of improper socialization. When a dog isn’t exposed to something correctly, they will associate it with fear instead, causing them to lash out and act in ways owners don’t expect.
Dogs who are happy and relaxed in public get to go in public! Socialized dogs are much easier and more fun to have puppy dates with! If your furry friend loves strangers and playing with other dogs, they would probably enjoy grabbing dinner with you on a pet-friendly patio or accompanying you to the beach on a sunny afternoon.
Reactive dogs can be challenging to take to places where their trigger could be. Socializing your pup when you first get them will open the door to many different experiences with them! The more confident your puppy is with new things, the more comfortable they will be going on outdoor adventures with you.
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Just like humans, chronic stress can cause health issues in dogs. Our pups experience the same “fight or flight” feeling when they are scared as we do. The most significant difference is that we can rationalize our feelings and talk them out, while dogs can’t.
Without an obvious way to alert people or get out of the situation, our pups can live in a constant state of stress, leading to chronic health issues. Your pup’s training and socialization are just as crucial for your dog’s health as their nutrition, medical care, and grooming are!
Socializing your pup builds a bond between you and them. They learn that you will protect them and avoid putting them in a bad situation. That trust can lead to a simpler and more fun time training and a relaxed home life! You will cherish that strong bond between you and your pup forever.
Marissa Sunny CPDT-KA is a behavior consultant and owner of a local dog training company,Epiphany Dog Training.