Whether you’re bringing a new adult dog into your home, or socializing your own older dog with others, it’s important to know the ropes. It’s beneficial for most animals to socialize and this is also true for dogs. Maybe your dog is new to socializing because he was a stray, or you’ve recently adopted and aren’t sure how your dog was socialized before you met him. In either case, it’s best to start out slow. You’ll learn a lot by seeing what makes him nervous and how he reacts to being in your home and outside. There are several easy steps you can take to socialize your adult dog in a healthy and happy way.
1. Take your dog out to observe
This can be done by taking your dog to a dog park, but not going in. This will give your dog a chance to watch and observe the dogs from the outside, getting used to their behavior. Every time another dog comes up to you and your dog through the fence, give your dog a treat – this will establish a positive association with other dogs. You’ll be able to see if your dog reacts aggressively with other dogs, in which case you should back up and then slowly move closer once he is quiet. For example, if he lunges forcefully at the fence, loudly barks, and tries to get through to bite the other dogs, you will want to back up.
2. Take an obedience class
An obedience class is a great way to teach your dog how to socialize before he goes to playdates or dog parks with other dogs. Obedience class may be distracting to your dog because of learning new commands, therefore it’s important that the instructor also spends time on the socialization factor. Tell the teacher before hand what issues your dog needs to work on, such as socialization. Knowing this information, she can spend extra time on this topic and slowly introduce your dog to other dogs. Obedience class is also a safe zone for your dog to learn how to interact with other humans, too.
3. Introduce people slowly
Try to not introduce more than one new person per week to your adult dog. New people should be advised to talk to your dog in a low, happy, and comfortable voice. It’s important not to use a high pitched voice that could get your dog nervous or excited. Keep your dog on a leash at first so you can control his movements, but do not force him to go towards the new person. Let your dog take his time and feel out the situation. Additionally, inform strangers that it may be best to give your dog space until he is ready to greet them. If he feels uncomfortable he should have a safe place where he can go and relax.
4. Be casual
It’s not a good idea to point out every move your dog makes. This is equal to a teenager coming into the room with a huge pimple on his face. You’re better off to just ignore it and act casual. By acting like your dog’s behavior is no big deal, this will create an atmosphere that is calm and accepting and your dog will pick up on these feelings. If he tries to hide under your legs when the door bell rings, just go about your business and ignore him. When your dog runs away and hides under the bed, you can lure him out with a treat or by shaking one of his toys. Don’t try go in and drag him out yourself; dogs are social creatures and eventually will become bored and lonely by themselves. When your dog finally comes out, reward him with a treat.
The main thing to remember when you’re socializing your adult dog is to be positive and make each experience rewarding with praise and a treat. With time and patience, your adult dog will become calm in public and at home with other animals. Eventually his nervousness will melt away, and you’ll be able to be at ease in social situations with your dog. These simple steps should be easy to incorporate into your daily routine with your dog. If you would like to learn more about helping your dog age gracefully as a senior, we can help. Download our free eBook by clicking the image below.