If you’ve just welcomed a new puppy into the family, congrats, the fun is about to begin! While having a pet is an exciting and heart-warming adventure, the experience doesn’t come without its challenges. Being a pet owner is a huge responsibility. It’s your duty to aid the dog’s development, helping create a healthy and happy pooch. The ideal time to train an animal is when they’re young. Dogs are social creatures like us; therefore, improving their socialization skills is one of the best things you can do as their owner.
As a doggy day care centre in Liverpool, Faye’s Doggy Boutique has seen all kinds of dogs walk through its doors. With input from Faye and her team, learn more about why puppy socialization is important and how you can socialize your puppy to help them have a better life…
Why It’s Important to Socialize Your Dog Early
The first year or two of a dog’s life dramatically influences how it views the world as it ages. During this time, the dog’s experiences with people, environments, and other animals will shape its personality and behaviours. It will be much more challenging to alter the pet’s traits when it becomes an adult.
Anxiety is a natural state for humans and animals. We are all hardwired to be fearful of new experiences, so it’s vital that we accept what is normal from a young age. It’s recommended that you socialize your dog between the ages of 3-12 weeks old, helping them get used to new sights, sounds and smells. A dog that is shielded from the world is more likely to develop an anxious personality, causing problems like destructive behaviour, growling and acting aggressive towards strangers or other animals.
With all that said, you should avoid overwhelming your pet or introducing them to experiences that end up being harmful. Socialization must be done gradually and controlled, ensuring their encounter leaves a positive effect.
Tips to Socialize Your Puppy
You may want to create a staged checklist when planning how to improve your dog’s socialization skills. You should start within your own home, especially if the dog isn’t vaccinated and cannot go outside, before introducing the pet to more of the outside world. Here are some excellent steps you can consider as part of your plan.
Introduce the Dog to Other People
Your dog will associate you with being a part of their pack, so outsiders may be seen as a threat. Therefore, it’s essential to show your dog that strangers are friends, not enemies. Before other dogs, it can be wise to introduce your dog to people, such as friends and family. Your home will have regular visitors, so it’s critical to teach your dog that visitors are not invading their private space.
Start by having select individuals or small groups visit your house. Make sure that the visitors approach the dog slowly, and have them back off if the dog appears hesitant or anxious. Loud and energetic people, including children, might initially be too much for the dog. Eventually, you will want the dog to become used to different types of people. You can even try dressing yourself up by wearing different sunglasses, hats etc. As long as you don’t look too scary, the dog will become accustomed to different looks.
Mingle With Other Dogs
One of the best things you can do is introduce your pet to other dogs. It would be smart to slowly introduce your pet to other dogs, helping them understand that their fellow canine isn’t something to guard against. You can start by having your pet watch other dogs walking past your house. When they’re ready, take them on walks and go to a dog park. Doggy day care benefits this area by making sure dogs meet each other in a controlled environment. If it goes well, you can regularly attend, ensuring they become used to different dogs and making it part of their routine.
Introducing your dog to others is best done slowly and by pairing them with animals of a similar personality. For example, a laidback dog isn’t going to want to play with a lively, energetic dog. Likewise, adult animals are more selective about whom they engage with, so puppies are likelier to annoy them.
Get Them Used to Different Sounds
It’s not just about living beings! Sound is another vital sense that affects how we perceive the world. You can get your dog used to different kinds of loud noises, such as washing machines and hoovers, in a staged way. Begin by introducing the object to your pet when it’s not activated, followed by pretending to use it. When they become comfortable with the object itself, activate it and see how they respond. If the pet shows signs of fear during any stage, take a step back and try the same approach when they’re calmer. One sound in particular that dogs are notoriously fearful of is fireworks. For this, you can show the dog a firework display on your television. When fireworks are set off by your house, let your dog watch them outside so they can associate the sound with the sight.
Reward Your Dog
Ultimately, you want to teach your dog that the world is a safe and friendly place. Dogs respond to good behaviour with rewards and will do anything for treats! Keep a bag of treats on you and when your pet does a challenging social activity, offer them a treat as a reward. Providing treats will help your dog associate the activity with a positive experience that warrants a reward.
This article was originally published on petbloglady.com.
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