Do you know how to socialize a dog? Socialization is essential for your dog to lead a happy life and not be afraid. But, in addition, socializing a dog correctly will prevent most behavior problems that may occur in the future, including aggressiveness.
It is true that socialization it is especially important during the first 3 months of life of the dog, which is when they best learn to relate. However, this is not always possible and sometimes we are forced to socialize a dog when he is already an adult.
In this article we tell you the best techniques to socialize your dog, whether it is a puppy or an adult.
What do we have to socialize our dog with?
When you think of socialization, your dog’s relationship with other dogs and people may come to mind. However, this is not everything. Dogs have to socialize with all kinds of stimuli with which they will live on a daily basis. And the most important thing is to ensure that the exposure to these stimuli is positive.
We can divide the socialization of a dog into five blocks:
- Other animals
- new situations
This means that our dog must learn to interact and feel comfortable and safe in each of these five blocks.
The socialization of a dog must be progressive and positive, it must never be through flooding. In other words, we should not force him to expose himself to something that scares him suddenly or directly because that will only cause discomfort and anxiety and, we want just the opposite, we want pleasant experiences. We will achieve this by slowly desensitizing them, exposing them to fear very gradually, very little by little, and always advancing at their own pace.
How to socialize a puppy dog?
Exposing your puppy to all possible situations that he will face throughout his life is the best way to get a sociable, balanced and fearless dog. But, he remembers, it is very important that you always create positive experiences and not negative ones, because that is when they develop fears.
Interact with dogs and other animals
It is vital that your puppy is in contact with other dogs in his first months of life. Let him come closer, smell, play and even have some conflict, but always without becoming overwhelmed. Putting it together with adult dogs, as long as they are balanced, will make them learn many things from them and improve their behavior.
Getting together with the same species is essential, but we also recommend that you socialize it with other animals such as cats, rabbits or birds. In this way, if in the future you decide to adopt another animal, you will not have problems with your dog. Keep in mind that if he has never seen a cat before, when he is an adult they will at least attract attention to him and it may be more difficult for them to get along.
Interact with other people
To socialize a puppy, it is important that he not only feel safe and comfortable with the people he lives with. You must teach him to relate to friends, family and strangers and that he understands that they are not a threat, that he can also interact with them in the same way that he does with you.
The puppy has to get used to the outside already different environments like city and countryside, as well as to car trips, public transport and also to other houses. Make him know all these places in the most important stage of socialization so that, when he is an adult, they do not generate fears or insecurity.
The socialization with dogs and with people it should be in different environments: in your house, in other people’s houses, on the street, in the park. Ask your family and friends to come to your house and go to theirs with your puppy.
Unknown sounds can cause dogs a feeling of fear. For example, the noise of cars, a horn or a construction site, as well as firecrackers, storms or fireworks.
Places with a lot of crowds, new parks, party dates, fairs… If your puppy knows all this at an early age and relates it to positive experiences, rest assured that as an adult they will not pose any problem.
How to socialize an adult dog?
With adult dogs that have not had a good socialization at an early age, things are a bit complicated. They have to start from scratch to face situations and environments that they have not known or that have been able to generate bad experiences, and this process is slower when they are older.
Exposure to stimuli must be much more gradual and much slower in adult dogs. At the first moment you notice that the situation is becoming a negative experience, you should stop, remove him from what is causing him discomfort and continue at another time. Whenever he makes progress, reward him so that he sees that it is something positive, it can be with a delicious treat or simply with a kind word and a caress.
How to socialize an adult dog with other dogs?
It is important that, at first, you do the exercise with dogs that you already know, it could be with a family member or friend or with someone you know from the park. Choose a calm and balanced dog that helps your dog feel confident and not the other way around; if you try to socialize him with a nervous or very active dog, it is more likely that the experience will be negative for your dog and there will be no progress.
Do it first in a quiet and familiar place for your furry and, when they have already become friends, ask the other person to accompany you on walks. Your dog will feel much safer having a dog he trusts by his side and seeing how he interacts with other dogs.
Socialize a dog by exposing him to the stimulus
As we had commented above, we should never work fear in our dog through flooding. You do not need to have direct contact with the stimulus. For example, if he is afraid of children, you don’t have to force a child to hold or touch him; it is enough for the child to be in the same space as the dog without even approaching it. Little by little the distances are shortened and it is possible that your dog ends up approaching by himself.
Tips when socializing a dog
- Respect the times that your dog needs.
- Let him be the one to approach the stimulus.
- Don’t force him to do something that scares him or makes him uncomfortable.
- Don’t use the flood.
- Turn the stressful situation into a positive experience.
- Pay attention to body language and anticipate any conflict.
- Always be calm and pass it on to your furry friend.
- Speak and intervene as little as possible, but if you have to, do so in a friendly and calm tone.
- Do not overprotect him (for example, pushing him away or picking him up).
- Never scold him for being afraid.
- Reward good behaviors and ignore bad ones.
- Be very patient.
To know how your dog is reacting and how he feels in the face of certain stimuli, it is essential that you know his language. Have you heard of the calming signals or of dog language? You can take a look here, they will be of great help to you!
Summarizing, socialize a dog it’s as simple as introducing him to different people, animals, places and situations, in order to create positive experiences and avoid fears. In this way, your dog will be a happy dog and you can go with him everywhere.