Socializing your dog teaches them how to react to the world around them healthily without any unnecessary fear or aggression. It is important to start socialization early, so it becomes their normal behavior. Ideally, it should be between three and 12 weeks of age, but not everyone is with their furry friend at that point in their life. Beyond 18 weeks, socialization gets a lot harder, but it is not impossible.
An important first step is to take your dog out on daily walks in public. This allows your dog to be exposed to many different experiences such as cars, other dogs, and strangers. The world becomes less scary after a few trips outside. Keep them on a short leash and take your dog on different routes to expose them to new sights and smells. Typically, new puppies should be exposed to different places, bodies of water, woods, beaches, and common neighborhood objects like street signs, bikes, strollers, skateboards, and benches.
Related, expose your dog to a wide variety of people such as men, women, and children so that they can get acclimated to the idea of people other than its owners. If your dog isn’t exposed to people other than its owners, it could become wary of anyone who isn’t their owner, so it is crucial to diversify whom your dog interacts with. Included in socialization is allowing your dog to meet unfamiliar people in unfamiliar clothes like hoods, jackets, sunglasses, and hats.
If your dog acts scared, stay calm and confident. Don’t push them, but don’t make a big deal out of their scared behavior. Use treats to give your dog a positive association with new people and experiences.
Socializing your dog allows them to enjoy the world around them and new experiences. To help your dog not fear new surroundings and people, start early, and show them all that your area has to offer! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.