Teaching your dog to socialize well is important – you don’t want your dog to become a bully, do you?
Have you ever noticed when you take your dog for a walk or go to the dog park how some dogs seem to naturally fit into the group of other dogs while others seem to either hide or, conversely, try to take over the territory and are more aggressive?
Every dog needs to be taught to play well with others – dogs and people. The failure to do so makes for a very tiring and sometimes dangerous situation. While dogs may have their DNA attuned to pack behavior that doesn’t mean all dogs will socialize well all the time. It’s up to you to teach your dog the etiquette of living with other dogs and humans.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way of accomplishing this and some dogs can be more easily trained in social niceties than others. In this final part of my series you’ll learn some basic tips of how to get your dog to be a perfect gentleman or lady.
There is a prime window of opportunity for getting your puppy trained for its social graces: In general – the sooner the better. After a dog acquires bad habits it’s going to be much harder to break him/her of its unwanted behaviors. So, start as soon as possible. Some experts have said that the ‘prime time’ for this is between eight and 16 weeks of age. After six months it’s going to be harder for your dog to get the message.
Many owners make the mistake of breathing a sigh of relief once their puppy learns to behave around the house and at the nearby park you take it to every day. But, to be truly socialized you have to expose your dog to many different situations. Take it for walks to different locations, let it see other people and dogs, let it see, hear and become aware of different environments – busy streets, unfamiliar neighborhoods and parks, etc. Space these experiences out so your dog can get acclimated to each different location and condition.
Dog On Dog
When dogs meet dogs at the park there will be some very familiar sniffing, playfulness and even growling. These are natural and you don’t have to jump in every time your dog snarls or is growled at by another dog. Dog on dog playfulness and barking are behaviors that teach your dog what its boundaries are around other dogs. It helps your dog learn how other dogs behave, which is a friend and which is a loner or a dog to steer clear of. Of course there are always owners who haven’t taken the time or responsibility to train their dog and the ‘neighborhood bully’ can offer a challenge. Just monitor your dog to make sure it isn’t picking up any bad habits.
Expose Your Dog To The World
The importance of getting your dog accustomed to its new world is important. A bad experience when it is young is likely to affect the dog for the rest of its life. So, what can you – or rather, should you do? As I mentioned before make sure you expose your dog to all different types of environments. Sometimes a bad or frightening experience may occur – a horn honks, a siren blares, etc. What you need to do is keep in mind a simple rule. Don’t make a bad situation worse. If your dog bumps into something unexpected, for example, don’t mother it and coo to it how sorry you are that it got hurt. Unless it is a true emergency let the dog think about the experience so it will learn what to do and what not to do the next time something similar occurs. Your job is to give positive reinforcement when your dog something correctly not to be the dog’s constant overlord. There’s a time for you to rush in and protect your dog or help it out of a bad situation. But, there’s also a need for you to just let your dog figure things out and not be so dependent on you that it can’t cope with the normal, daily happenings of life.