Why do Certified dog trainers emphasize the importance of dog socialization? Whether a puppy or an adult dog, dog socialization is a must. Dogs that are properly socialized are more confident and well-behaved. What does dog socialization mean? Dog socialization is basically providing your dog with exposure and experiences that make them comfortable and familiar with everyday life. It’s an important aspect that helps your dog develop psychological stability. Dogs that are not properly socialized often manifest insecurity, fear, and nervousness.
A well-socialized dog is much more comfortable to be with, so you get to enjoy and make the most of your interactions. Have you ever noticed dogs that show aggression by barking excessively and lunging at people? Well, that’s what’s going to happen if your dog hasn’t developed socialization skills. They become defensive and aggressive towards other people and other animals.
How Do You Socialize Puppies?
Puppies are like newborn babies. The world is brand new, and everyone is completely unfamiliar to them. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to introduce your pet to the world slowly. According to experts, the critical development period of puppies is between eight weeks and four months. During this period, your pup develops its own perspective of the world. How it experiences life within this given period will greatly influence the type of adult dog it will become in the future.
How do you socialize with your pup? Pup socialization is not as complicated as you think it is. All you need is to provide your pup with a safe and fun environment that allows it to enjoy positive experiences. There are two types of socialization, direct and indirect.
Puppy socialization isn’t about letting your pup meet every person and dog you encounter. Keep in mind that dog socialization is entirely different from human socialization. Humans socialize by talking to each other, and sometimes it may even involve physical contact. When humans interact, it’s mostly direct socialization. Unfortunately, this approach is not recommended for puppies because not all puppies respond the same way.
Imagine walking your dog, and your dog starts barking and whining to greet every person or animal it sees? This usually results if you allow your dog to socialize and greet everyone, regardless of whether it’s a person or an animal. There is always an appropriate place and time for these greetings. This is why direct socialization is not considered the ideal option for pets. Dogs that were trained using this method eventually developed aggression and anxiety.
When puppies socialize, they don’t have to have direct contact with what they’re about to socialize to. Indirect socialization is when you take your pup to different environments so it can be exposed to different people, smells, and sounds. Give your pup a treat so it can associate these events with something positive. Since your pup doesn’t have previous experience, everything and everyone it encounters are considered either positive or neutral.
For example, if you introduce a friend to your pup and you give your pup a treat, it will associate your friend with something positive.
Can You still Socialize an Adult Dog?
Absolutely! Dog socialization isn’t just for puppies! It can also apply to adult dogs. Socialization doesn’t end when your pup matures; it’s a continuous process. For example, if you’ve successfully socialized your puppy but kept it in isolation for months, your dog will not remember the socialization skills it learned from its previous encounters.
Socializing adult dogs is quite different from pups because older dogs have a past, unlike pups with zero experience. For instance, if another dog bit your dog in the past, it will become anxious and fearful and probably behave aggressively towards other dogs because of its past. However, this should not discourage you from pushing through with dog socialization. You just have to present a new perspective. Don’t rush your dog into socializing with others. Older dogs usually require more time.
When socializing with your dog, regardless of whether it’s a puppy or an adult dog, you should avoid forcing your dog to socialize if it’s not in the mood. Also, do not reward your dog for bad behavior. Giving your dog a treat when misbehaving will only lead to confusion and encourage bad behavior. Are you ready to socialize your dog and introduce it to the world and vice versa? If you need help or guidance, you can always hire a professional dog trainer and enroll your dog in dog socialization classes.