Is your dog a prim and proper lady around dogs and humans she’s just met? Is he a gentleman at the dog park? Or could Fido’s manners use a tune-up? When it comes to successfully interacting with other canines and humans, socialization is key.
Of course, the best time to start socializing your dog—introducing him to new situations and new friends—is between 3 and 12 weeks of age.
But don’t worry if your dog is well past that age! It’s never too late to work on socialization.
Here are some of our favorite tips for teaching your dog how to, well, be a good dog!
Dog Socialization Tip #1:
Make Daily Walks Part of Your Routine
Chaperoning your dog on daily adventures out in the world can help him to become more comfortable around unfamiliar people and dogs.
It also helps him get used to some common sights and sounds that might be intimidating at first: cars going by, crowds of people, loud noises.
The world will get a little less scary every time he ventures into it.
- Keep your dog on a short leash—avoid extendable and retractable Flexi leashes.
- Take different routes to keep things interesting.
Dog Socialization Tip #2:
Change Things Up
Diversify your dog’s social calendar and make time to meet new people and pets.
If they hang out with the same friends every day, they might start to grow wary of strangers.
Instead, mix it up.
Let your dog hang out with friends, but make sure you’re still making time to introduce them to people and dogs they’re unfamiliar with. It will keep their social skills from getting rusty!
Our top tips for meet and greets:
- If your dog is scare or skittish, stay calm and confident—but don’t make a big deal.
- Make sure new people pet your dog in places your dog doesn’t mind, like their chest or chin.
- Always have treats on hand to reinforce positive behavior and create positive associations.
- Revisit the training basics. Your dog should be confident about obeying commands, and that confidence will translate to their social interactions.
- Introduce your dog to a playgroup or doggy daycare!
Dog Socialization Tip #3:
Watch the Calendar
Like we mentioned above, the best time to socialize a puppy is between 3 and 12 weeks of age.
They do most of their learning with mom and their littermates, but you can continue that socialization once your pup is old enough.
For a well-rounded puppy, make sure to expose them to:
- New people
- Unfamiliar clothing (hoodies, sunglasses, hats)
- Body handling
- City environments
- Rural environments, including water, woods and beachesVehicles and car rides
- Different types of flooring and stairs
- Neighborhood objects, like signs, bikes, strollers, skateboards and benches
- Cats and other dogs
Keep in mind that if your dog is older, you can still socialize them. Old dogs can learn new tricks!
Dog Socialization Tip #4:
Sign Up for Doggy Daycare or Training Classes
Doggy daycare, like the one at Lucky Dog, offers a safe and controlled environment for dogs to play and socialize in.
Similarly, training classes are usually full of dog owners with similar goals to help their dogs be well-adjusted canine citizens.
Dog Socialization Tip #5:
Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Social Cues
One of the most important ways to ensure every socialization is successful is to pay attention to your dog’s cues and body language. Some days, they might feel like keeping to themselves.
Just like people, Fido has off days, too. So, pay attention to what he’s trying to tell you when he meets a new person or dog and know when to call it a day.
Dog Socialization Tip #6:
Don’t set your dog up for failure. Introducing your Great Dane puppy to an old Chihuahua might sound cute, but is it safe for both dogs to be in that situation? Probably not.
Make sure your dog is always on a leash—the exception being when you’re in a designated off-leash zone and your dog has excellent recall. This way, your dog won’t wander over to meet a dog who might not be as friendly or ready to socialize.
Socialize Your Pup at Lucky Dog!
Doggy daycare is a great way to continue your dog’s socialization education. Remember: He should already have the basics down and be comfortable around other dogs before attending his first daycare session. That will help to keep everyone—dogs and handlers—safe and happy.
Give us a call today to see if your dog would be a good fit!