Tips For Making Dogs More Sociable

  • 30/09/2019

Did you observe that the dog you just brought home is having difficulty in adapting to unfamiliar situations and is a bit fearful? It could be that the animal lacks socialization skills. This can especially happen with an adult dog. It could demonstrate a range of unusual behavior like being aggressive and might send warning signals like raised hackles during the initial interaction or might even feel nervous on exposure to different sights and sounds. Some dogs tend to shy away from people or other dogs. If you see any of these signs, it clearly shows that your dog was not adequately socialized in his early days.

Domestic dogs learn to socialize in their litter that makes it easy for the animals to mix with humans and could take about 4 to 12 weeks to adapt to a new environment.   During this time, the dog picks up the ropes of socializing that facilitate their interaction with humans as well as other dogs, and the trait continues into adulthood. But this order does not apply across all dogs because there can be some older dogs that are unable to acquire the desired level of socializing abilities. Such dogs require some training and pet owners must take them to training classes like the ones offered by to overcome the deficiencies and enable them to socialize better.

What is socialization for dogs?

Socialization means exposing your dog to different kinds of environments, animals, people, and other stimuli as much as possible.  But take care that the animal does not feel overwhelmed.  Restrained exposure to various conditions is very important because overdoing can lead to adverse results.  It could make the dog suffer from excessive fear and avoidance or withdrawal. Therefore, knowing how much exposure would be right for the dog is very important.

Socialization starts from a very early age, almost immediately after birth as the animal learns to accept touching of all body parts. Positive exposure to varied situations, people, and other animals is part of the process of socialization during which it learns to explore the environment and investigate it. The animal must learn to familiarize with a variety of surfaces, toys and games, and other stimuli and should also learn to enjoy regular car rides to new environments.

The purpose of socialization is to make the senses of the puppy receptive to various situations and environments through exposure to sounds, sights, and smell of daily life.   Due to the exposure, the puppy develops a comfort level with different and new situations that teach it to handle new challenges and experiences with appropriate and acceptable behavior. 

Here are some tips for teaching your dog how to socialize with other dogs.

Let your dog observe other dogs

Give controlled exposure to your dog by taking it to the park. There it can see other dogs inside the park but make it sit outside the fence and watch the other dogs. It allows your dog to observe the behavior of other dogs and puppies. To help your dog get closer to other dogs, whenever any dog comes close to the fence, give your dog a treat as it creates a positive association with other dogs. If your dog behaves aggressively when other dogs come close to it, then take it away from the scene and come back slowly after some time when it becomes quiet.

Never tug while walking

Besides giving exposure to the dog, you must ensure that you convey positive signals that encourage free mixing with other dogs. When you are out walking, and other dogs come into view, never make the mistake of yelling at the dog or tugging at your dog. It can send negative signals and make your dog apprehensive in freely accepting other dogs.  Ideally, you must distract the dog with a toy or treat. Then draw it towards you by commanding it to watch you while praising when it responds positively and pays attention to you.

Take it to dog training classes

Dog training classes like obedience training is a great way to socialize adult dogs before trying other means like arranging for playdates or taking it to a park. Obedience classes provide an environment that keeps all dogs under control. It is especially helpful is your dog is wary of other dogs or fearful and shy away during interactions. During the classes, the dog gets the opportunity of mixing with other dogs but from some distance. This helps to do away with the inhibitions that it might have in mixing with other dogs. However, you must ensure that the classes do not instill any fear in the animal. If the training relies on fear-based dominance, it can alienate the dog instead of encouraging it to mix with others. 

 Arrange for play dates

To help your dog mix with other dogs freely, arrange for play dates with some compatible dogs, one at a time, if you have friends who also have dogs. Allowing your dog and his companion to roam freely in an enclosed area gives the opportunity of mixing and knowing each other.   It creates a conducive and stress-free environment for social mixing. Your dog can hone the skills of mixing with just another dog without the chances of feeling distressed by the presence of too many dogs or a dog that is too much dominating.

Take your dog to agility competitions

When you are looking for opportunities to make your dog mix with other dogs, agility competitions are a good choice. These events expose your dog not only to other dogs but as well as people and enhance the scope of socialization. These are places where your dog receives a lot of mental stimulation and exercises and shared time with you. While participating in the events, the dog automatically adapts to the situation and learns the skills of social mixing.

Taking your dog for daily walks is of great value in making the animal friendlier as it provides the opportunity of mixing with other dogs.

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