Most dogs socialize in the first twelve weeks of their lives. During this time, they get used to people, interact with other canines, and learn their body language. It is essential to mention that not every puppy has a positive experience with socializing. For instance, some dogs in the shelter don’t have enough contact with humans. In some cases, the vet may not allow taking puppies outside due to health issues. As a result, these puppies don’t know how to behave in the park.
If your four-legged friend doesn’t feel comfortable around people and other dogs, take action towards socializing him as soon as possible.
Otherwise, your dog will be frightened of anything that isn’t familiar (e.g., children, cats, vehicles, fireworks or things around the house). Usually, under-socialized, anxious dogs behave aggressively. Needless to say, it is quite difficult to take care of them. You will have to take your dog to the vet for basic nail clipping, toothbrushing, and grooming procedures.
The good news is that it is never too late to socialize your dog. All breeds of dogs, including German shepherd lab mix and blue nose pitbull, can be trained. That’s how you can socialize your dog and make him stress-free:
Interaction with Humans
If you have a puppy, you need to introduce him to people three weeks after his birth. Let your friends and family members handle and pet your puppy in a positive manner. It is crucial to make sure your dog is exposed to people wearing sunglasses, heavy jackets, hats, and boots. That’s how your puppy will understand that humans look very different.
In case you don’t have children in the house, go to the park so that your dog can hear and see kids playing. Keep your dog on the leash while you are in the park. Puppies can easily accept new experiences, but they can also get scared.
It is recommended to introduce new people, urban environments, vehicles, common neighborhood objects (bikes, skateboards, street signs, and benches) slowly. It can be very overwhelming for your dog at the beginning. When you see that your pup is stressed, take him to a quiet place and let him play with his favorite toy.
Exposure sessions should be short and effective. Every time you introduce your puppy to something new, offer him treats in case he behaves well. If he is aggressive or anxious, it would be better to take him home. Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to make your four-legged friend feel comfortable and safe during exposure sessions.
Older dogs are not as accepting as puppies. If your dog is older than twelve weeks, you will need to enroll him in a socialization class. You can also train your dog on your own. However, you should seek the advice of a veterinarian or animal behaviorist first. Don’t try to socialize an aggressive dog without professional help.
You can find socialization classes in large pet stores, veterinarian clinics, or community centers.
It is recommended to get a halter and a basket muzzle to control the under-socialized dog. It is the only way you can make sure your dog will not bite other pets or humans.
Keep your dog on the leash every time you are outside. You never know what might scare or make him aggressive, so it’s better to be prepared.
Dog to Dog Interaction
Going to the dog park can be very stressful for your puppy. That’s why you need to take it slowly and introduce your four-legged friend to only one dog at the beginning. Find a friend who has an easygoing dog. Your dogs can meet in a neutral location (public park or forest) and play a bit.
At first, you should keep them on leashes at an appropriate distance (especially if you have an older dog). Let them play once they are calm. In case dogs bark or try to fight, talk to them in a soothing voice and take them home.
If you see that your puppy wags his tail in the presence of your friend’s dog, it means your pup is ready to play without a leash.
Your main task is to praise your pup for remaining calm while meeting other dogs. For instance, if your dog passes other pets without incident, give him a small pat on the head. It will help your dog understand what kind of behavior you expect from him. Take some treats with you to the park and offer them as a reward after playing with other dogs. Avoid giving treats without reason; your pet should understand why he is being rewarded.
Don’t punish your dog if he gets nervous or aggressive around other pets. Remain calm and take your dog home. It takes time to get used to other pets, especially in the case of older dogs.