Dogs, young and old, need to socialize so they’ll know how to behave and be welcomed everywhere they go. There are specific techniques and methods to teach your dog how to be a good pup. Remember, not everything works for every dog, but something will work for your dog.
Daily Walks to Socialize Your Pup
Dogs need daily walks, and it’s not just for exercise. Taking your beloved furry friend out gets your dog comfortable with being among other people. Being exposed to cars that go past your house or people that come and go can work wonders to socialize your pup. It’s good for them to become familiar with people and regular objects.
Start with a short, tethered leash. When your dog is new to being outdoors or maybe even older and inexperienced, you want to keep them close for their safety and the safety of others. By doing so, you also teach your dog to walk beside you instead of leading. This helps establish pack order. Your pup will come to understand that you’re the alpha that takes the lead.
More People From All Backgrounds
When dogs are young, owners need to expose them to all different people, including children. Dogs learn to accept that people are everywhere, and it encourages your dog to be more trusting of other people. You might even consider hiring multiple dog walkers to take your furry friend out to familiarize them with different people.
Your dog will take your lead, so if you act scared, he’ll pick up on it. Be confident, so your dog knows that he’s safe. Don’t make it a thing if he’s timid, though. Accept it and try again later. Constant exposure will teach your dog that he can be out without being scared, but it does take time and effort on your part.
As you go around people, you know that others, especially kids, will ask if they can pet the dog. If you’re willing to let your dog receive pets, make sure that people understand they have to pet only where their hands can be seen. If a dog can’t see that it’s a friendly hand, he might pull away or nip out of fright. Treats can be used to encourage good behavior here, too.
The Best Time to Socialize Your Pup
The best time to socialize dogs is when they’re puppies. You want to start working with new puppies at around three weeks old to let them get used to being around people. The more unfamiliar things puppies are exposed to, the better they are when they go to their forever homes. Items like hoodies or jackets and sunglasses that can hide the way people usually look are good examples of what puppies need to see early on.
Once a puppy finds his forever home, the new owner needs to continue socializing the puppy. If you’re a new owner, expose your puppy to different flooring, other dogs, cats, and places like beaches and woodsy trails. Socialization needs to keep going through about 12 weeks old because dogs start to settle into their routines after about four months.
Socializing an Older Dog
If a dog is older and unfortunately misses proper socialization, you can do it, but it takes a little more work and different techniques. When you miss the early window, you’ll need to think in terms of baby steps. Let your dog feel confident as you slowly expand the world they live in. Don’t go out into the world and expect them to learn and accept socialization if they’ve never been around other dogs or people.
Instead, it would help if you go one day at a time. For example, your dog may feel entirely comfortable in your house and backyard. The minute he sets his paws to go out the front door, you can tell he is skittish and afraid. Start there, reintroducing him repeatedly to the front yard until he has that same easygoing confidence.
After the confidence blooms, you can expand to the street or a nearby walking trail. You must be patient with a dog that hasn’t had the opportunity to socialize because too much too fast could backfire on you and your dog.
Final Thoughts on Socializing Your Pup
Most people will agree that socializing your pup is critical in your dog’s well-being as he grows up into a confident furry friend. Daily walks are a great place to start to introduce more people to your dog’s life. Bring people from all backgrounds into your dog’s social circle. Start socialization early, but even if you miss the best window, you can still socialize your dog if he’s older. Be patient, and soon your dog will be able to take on the world.