Socializing Your Dog: How Important Is It?
In a word: Extremely!
What is Dog Socialization?
Socialization is the process of exposing dogs to new environments and situations. It helps them to feel more comfortable when encountering new things, animals, and people by providing them with the ability to develop skills to cope with these new experiences in a positive way.
If you have a puppy, the ideal time to start the socializing process is as early as 8 weeks. Experts say 8-12 weeks of age is the first critical socialization time for a pup. But not everyone gets a puppy and therefore has the opportunity to start at a young age. Regardless of how old your pooch is when you get him, you can start the process. Just be sure to listen to your dog’s cues, and go at a pace that is comfortable for you both.
Dogs that are not well socialized can be fearful, shy, anxious and possibly aggressive towards other dogs and people because they lack the skills to cope with new situations.
There are numerous ways you can socialize your dog throughout their life. Here are a few ideas:
- Puppy Kindergarten or Obedience Classes: Every dog should learn to be well behaved around other people and dogs. A structured class will give your dog a chance to practice obedience skills while meeting and greeting new dogs and people.
- Parks and Nature Centers: Visit your local parks and nature centers. Most have walking trails. Take plenty of treats and when children ask to pet your dog, ask them if they would like to give your dog a treat too. You will likely also encounter different kinds of animals.
- Outdoor events: Don’t be afraid to expose your dog or puppy to youth sporting events, small festivals, farmers markets and dog events like fundraising walks.
- Doggy Daycare: Make sure to find a daycare center that performs assessments on each dog before they are allowed to play with other dogs. It is imperative that all dogs in a free style group setting be safe.
The benefits to socializing your dog will be undeniable to both him and you! Not only will you both be getting some exercise, but you will be forging a great bond together.
Regardless of how you choose to socialize your dog, always keep him under control, carry lots of treats, and keep it positive. Don’t force your dog into anything! Instead, keep it light-hearted, and if your dog appears overly anxious or overwhelmed, keep it short.
In summary, a well socialized dog results in a well balanced, well mannered, happy and confident pooch! Sounds like a win-win to us!