What do you think of when you hear “socialization?” Most dog owners know that socialization is critical to a well-adjusted dog that you can trust in all sorts of situations. However, we hear it daily here at Dog Training Now, many owners also think that socialization simply means they need to have their dogs in daycare style play groups. While daycare and playgroups have their place, proper socialization is a whole lot more than just putting your dog in a playgroup! Socialization means exposing your dog to all sorts of situations, sights, smells, sounds, etc. so they can tolerate everyday situations comfortably!
So how do you get them to be comfortable around all sorts of objects, people, other dogs and animals, and every setting in between? Exposure! Slow and steady introductions to new environments, exposing your dog to the world, is socializing them! In our Puppy Preschool program, we play games like Pass the Puppy where we introduce the pups to other people, having their paws, tails, ears, etc touched. We introduce them to new objects like mops, brooms, vacuums, medical equipment, and noisy children’s toys and encourage them to explore these new objects. That exposure to unfamiliar objects and settings in a controlled, safe environment is what helps your dog develop confidence to be able to handle all the new sounds, sights, smells, and experiences they will come across in the world with the appropriate behavior!
But don’t be mistaken that socialization ends once your dog outgrows puppyhood. Socialization is for the life of your dog! It’s essential for their mental and physical well-being that they are continually exposed to new environments. What does that mean? Take your dog on a hike. Take her for a walk through your neighborhood, or a new neighborhood, and allow her the time to stop to sniff(that’s how dogs learn about the world around them!). Take her to a dog-friendly store or event. Take him to lunch on a dog-friendly patio with you. Take him for car rides to nowhere and frequently. Take her through a drive-thru with you. Take him somewhere new. Allow your dog to get out and explore the world around them with you.
Just think, if you spent your entire life inside your house, you probably wouldn’t be a very well-adjusted member of society! Your dog is no different! You love your dog and he loves you back, make his life fun and low-stress by socializing him with everything the world has to offer! Thankfully the world is becoming more dog friendly every day, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to enrich your dog!
It’s that time of year, that fall festivals, farmers markets, and events begin, and many of you may like to take your dogs to them, but aren’t sure how to ensure they’ll behave there! Dogs that are exposed to new situations often and early are typically confident, well-adjusted dogs that can maintain composure and confidently navigate any environment you choose for them to tag along to!
In fact, Dog Training Now will be taking part in the Schaumburg Boomers’ “Bark in the Park” event on Sunday, August 26, 2018. Take advantage of this great opportunity to socialize your dog with something totally new! A Sunday afternoon baseball game.
Proper socialization is key to their behavior for the years that come, and comes with a big bonus: allowing them partake in your adventures goes a long way in developing the bond between you and your best bud!
Is your dog a socialization master? Is he a great citizen? Dog Training Now would love to help you prove it! We are certified AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluators. Get your dog an official AKC title, and take that first step towards therapy dog work! Call or email us to find out about Canine Good Citizen certification!
Disclaimer: As your dog grows, knowing your dog, their personality and behavior, and their limitations is key here… so if your dog is not friendly towards other dogs and/or people, you’re talking a whole different ballgame than your average dog socialization that this blog refers to, so obviously, do not expose them or take them somewhere that would put them and the other dogs and people around you in an unsafe situation!