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Episode 9 of 12

How to help your dog socialize

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A very important part of nurturing your dog is socialization. It’s one of the most important skills that you, as a dog parent, can help your dog learn. Socializing helps build your dog’s confidence in the world and makes it easier for you and your canine friend.

Below are some tips and advice on how to better socialize your dog.

Socializing with humans

Before we delve into other dogs, let’s talk about humans...

It’s crucial to diversify your dog’s interactions with people. Expose your dog to all different types of people, from men and women to children, from the elderly to the young. Interact with people wearing unfamiliar outfits like sunglasses, hoods, and hats.

When doing this, pay close attention to the stress level and help provide distracting positive reinforcement before your dog becomes too engaged or worried.

Allow your dog to get used to touch by routinely holding or petting them. Practice getting them comfortable with paw and nail examination.

We’ve discussed how daily leashed walks are necessary for exercise. They are also extremely important in your dog’s social development. Walking in a variety of public places helps dogs grow more comfortable with their people and the world around them.

Socializing with dogs

It’s also critical that your dog learn to socialize with other dogs, and this should start as early as possible— this is more likely to lead to a happier life and a prevents bad behaviors developing in future.

And this socialization literally starts at day one by learning appropriate manners and interactions from the dog’s mom and its siblings. There’s not much intervention required from you here, but it’s useful to be aware of.

Once a puppy is strong and healthy enough to start going outside (usually after a few months), a great way for it to learn appropriate socialization is to sign up for a puppy or an obedience class with a knowledgeable dog trainer. This space provides a controlled environment to ensure positive interactions between the dogs — where they learn to play fairly and recognize when to stand down, preventing overly-aggressive behavior.

Once they’ve displayed positive interactions, you can schedule play dates with other dogs to help them with socialization, and just for relaxation and play time.

Remember your dog is always learning, so socialization doesn’t stop as a puppy. It should continue for a lifetime. And whilst changes in adulthood are harder, they are very much possible.