Dog socialization is a process where your fur-baby learns to happily interact and communicate with other dogs, animals, and people in different activities and places. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dog socialization should begin during the "sensitive period" which is between three and 14 weeks of age for puppies.
Dog socialization (whether your dog is still a pup or already an adult) will always be one of the best ways to help your fur-baby become the good dog you wished them to be.
In this article, we’ll talk about why dog socialization is important, how it works, and ways you can efficiently and successfully socialize your dog.
More than just exposure
Most pet parents may not be aware yet that dog socialization is more than just exposing their dogs to the environment they’re at. Many also associate socialization by just letting their dogs play and interact with other dogs and other people. Socializing your dog is more than that.
Socialization will involve your dog learning how to properly relate and communicate with other dogs, other animals, and with people in different activities and circumstances.
Socializing your puppy
In a puppy’s development stages, socialization is best started around three weeks old. This dog socialization stage must allow pups to experience and get exposed to different sounds, sights, smells, and feelings without having to feel uncomfortable or scared. Puppies who are delayed in this stage (as they might be sick, weak, etc.) may have greater possibilities of easily getting fearful, uncomfortable, and may exhibit signs of anxieties & aggression.
To socialize your pup, you can:
- Introduce your pup to a lot of people and allow them to get handled or carried gently by different people.
- Constantly rub your pup’s belly, tickle their feet, stroke their back.
- Expose your pup to different sounds around the house - a ringing telephone, a whistle of the boiling kettle, TV noise, and many other sounds and noises in your home (just make sure you don’t overwhelm and startle your pup!).
- Focus greatly on positive reinforcements. We know how puppies are very curious and mischievous, and it can drive us insane. Show your pup who’s boss – but not by punishing them or pinning them down whenever they get on your nerves. Socializing your dog works great when you focus on giving rewards whenever your pup does something desirable. It will help build trust in your relationship, too!
Socializing your adolescent dog
Though a dog’s sensitive socialization period begins at three weeks old and typically ends when your fur-baby is around five months old, socializing your dog that's already in their adolescent stage is still possible!
- Keep introducing your dog to new people and even to new dogs and animals (just make sure these are not wild or stray animals that may carry with them communicable diseases).
- Change your walking route once in a while. Taking a different path while walking will provide mental stimulation for your dog through new scents and new sights.
- Allow your dog to play with other dogs at the park, on playdates, or on playgroups with other pet parents’ dogs.
- Have your pup get used to people approaching their food or water bowl while they’re eating, as this will help control your pup’s resource or territorial guarding behavior.
- Teach your dog that it’s completely okay to be alone. Leave them alone inside their crate or playpen a few minutes a day, and increase the duration as days go by. This will help prevent your dog from having separation anxieties and exhibiting undesirable behaviors like excessive chewing and excessive barking in the future.
Socializing your adult dog
Yes, you read that right. In ways more than one, there are still means for you to be able to socialize your adult dog. Though playing is considered one of the most efficient ways to help your dog interact with others, an adult dog wouldn’t find playing with unfamiliar dogs that much exciting anymore. Your adult dog may either ignore or try to avoid younger dogs who come close to play or interact. So how do you socialize your dog?
- Slowly introduce your dog to another dog. To avoid overwhelming your dog, invite a fellow pet-parent & her dog for a walk and allow both dogs to get to know each other. If both dogs seem to be comfortable with each other, you can consider having them off-leashed to play. But if one or both of them looks tensed and anxious, keep dogs at a safe distance from each other and give them more time to adjust.
How can Pet Parents® help in dog socialization?
As you and your dog will be out for walks and play dates, it is better to have your fur-baby wear dog diapers or dog belly bands. These will keep you away from any messy clean-ups on the road or at the park.
Provide premium dog diapers and belly bands like that of Pet Parents®. These dog diapers and belly bands for dogs are washable, have super absorbent sewn-in pads that are able to keep in pee and poop messes. These are made from leak-proof & water-proof shells that make sure messes will not be possible.
You can also provide your dog Pet Parents® calming supplement that will help your dog remain calm and relaxed in stressful situations, especially when your fur-baby is anxious or fearful meeting other dogs and other people. This supplement contains organic hemp extract that has essential properties that raise calming effects in your fur-baby, helping them cope and deal with external stresses. It is also made with taurine, that aids in sustaining a healthy nervous system function & may also support balanced behavior in your dog.
As stated by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, improper dog socialization can lead to behavior problems later in life that’s why it’s better to start taking your dog out to public places once your veterinarian says it is safe, and your dog learn to behave in a variety of situations and to enjoy interacting with different people.