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How to socialize your dog

Socialization is a term used a lot in the dog world. Many dog ​​owners believe that socialization means their dog is social – that she loves meeting new people and other dogs. Then it makes sense that in many people’s minds “socialization” means the opportunity for their dogs to come into contact with dogs and others. However, when it comes to dog training and dog development, socialization means something a little more specific.

Dog trainer and author Zazie Todd“The sensitive period to socialization is the time in a puppy’s life from 3 weeks to about 12 to 14 weeks when the brain is very malleable,” explains Dr. You can teach obedience at any age, but you cannot regain socialization, because it is a special moment in the puppy’s growth ”.

Basically, only puppies under 14 weeks of age can technically be integrated into society. If your dog did not socialize well as a puppy, that does not mean your dog’s behavior may not be improved or your dog cannot become comfortable. more when around dogs and strangers.

“It’s never too late! Although it may take a little longer or is a little more difficult, most dogs can progress with socialization at any age,” said Dr. Ashley. Opyt, medical director now Firehouse Animal Health Center in Kyle, Texas.

Photo: RyanJLane | beautiful images

Why should you socialize your dog?

Before bringing your dog home from a responsible breeder, rescuer or shelter, ask what form of initial socialization the puppy received as the critical time for socialization begins. a few weeks before the puppies can leave the mother. “If you miss the window, it can cause problems on the way,” says Dr. Opyt. “Incomplete socialization in early life can increase your chances of experiencing behavioral challenges later in life, including fear and aggression.”

Don’t equate socialization with playing with dogs or other people. Many dogs, especially as they reach adulthood, become less likely to play with dogs they do not know well. This may also have breed-specific components, with more varieties being reserved or wary of new ones.
people or animals.

As a trainer, I define a socialized dog as one that is comfortable with new experiences and places and around / around other dogs and new people. Note: Being comfortable and polite with dogs and people does not mean getting excited about playing or interacting with. Dogs of all ages need constant training and exposure to new experiences to stay comfortable, confident and friendly. In addition, regular contact with new habitats, humans and other dogs for most dogs has a very high mental stimulant and rewarding effect and thus contributes to quality. The overall amount of life is better for the dog as well as its owner.

Does your dog need help?

A dog that is not socially or less socialized will “show fear or anxiety around other animals, people or in new places.” People note that in these situations, you will find them trembling or even act aggressively towards animals or others, says Dr. Opyt.

Not only is this behavior stressful for your dog and can be embarrassing, it can also be life threatening. Unfortunately, such behavior problems combative is the number 1 reason pet owners send their pets to shelters for re-adoption.

Behavioral problems are also a common cause of death in dogs. If at any time you feel anxious about your dog’s behavior, anxious or overwhelmed about the best way to support your dog, connect directly with a positive reinforcement platform-based trainer. . Dr. Opyt recommends working individually with a qualified trainer to develop a personal socialization plan for you and your dog.

How to socialize your dog

When socializing with a dog, especially a puppy, ask yourself what its life would be like. “Think about everything and everyone your puppy might meet later in life. The purpose of socialization is to give your puppies as many experiences, make them as active as possible and always make choices for the puppy, ”explains Zazie.

Everyone: Gives the dog the experience of seeing people of different genders, races, beards, haters, sunglasses and dress, as well as people use wheelchairs, walkers and strollers. “It sounds a bit complicated during a pandemic, but your puppy doesn’t need to be in contact with these people; he could only see them from afar, ”said Zazie.

Take training class: Receive practical instruction from your trainer when your dog is interacting safely and it’s important to learn how to ignore puppies and others in age-appropriate ways. Finding a coach that uses only reward-based methods is commonly referred to as positive reinforcement. This is especially important for a puppy.

“Ideally the class would include getting used to caring for a puppy (like the veterinarian) and letting the puppies play together,” explained Zazie.

“Always keep an eye on your puppy to make sure he is happy and not overwhelmed. The trainer should do play consent tests when you separate the puppies so they can stop playing if they want to or come back to play if they are interested. “

Move at the speed of the dog: When working with an older dog that was not properly socialized as a puppy, move at the speed of your dog. Don’t
overwhelm her or overwhelm her with new experiences, people or other dogs.

“If your adult dog is frightened, help him avoid what he is afraid of and devise a training plan to use delicious foods to teach him to like him instead of fearing him (technical jargon is counterattack tie), ”Zazie advised.

Make positive connections: There are plenty of “high-value” snacks (anything your dog loves, usually the oven the better) whenever you go for training. When your dog sees another dog or a person in the distance, reward him with a treat. Repeat a few times.

Whenever your dog sees a dog or someone else it will be treated. Soon, your dog will begin to associate seeing another person or dog with a reward and will look at you instead of worrying or getting too excited about a person’s presence or a dog.

Over time and more training sessions, reduce the distance between your person or dog and your dog. If at any time your dog becomes uncomfortable or struggling, take a few steps back (literally) and add some distance between your dog and the person / dog. The goal is to work at a rate your dog is comfortable with and, even if we begin to reduce the distance between our dog and the dog or another, to stay at the distance that their dog is. we can still focus on us and indulge our snacks.

Don’t stretch that leash: When you do socializing, keep your dog close to you. Use a 6-foot leash and let loose so that the dog will not react or become stressed by leash pressure. For many dogs, this can create a feeling of being stuck and worsen anxiety about seeing other dogs or people.

Choosing the right location: Choosing the right training points as possible means you can keep dogs at a distance they can succeed. Avoid leashed areas, especially dog ​​parks. The key to socializing with your dog is building comfort and confidence, getting closer to people and other dogs, and giving your dog the space it needs to stay safe and comfortable.

“Dog-friendly outdoor restaurants and bars are good places to keep your pets chained and close to you while exposing them to sights and sounds,” says Dr. Opyt. like other people and pets ”.

socialize your dog

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Make time for your play days

Once your dog is comfortable seeing other dogs or people, it is ready for the next step. “You can start with a controlled environment like a 1: 1 interaction with a person and a dog you know, in a neutral,” says Dr. Opyt. “If all goes well, schedule regular outings with individual dogs or small groups, and gradually give your dog more freedom to interact. Structured training classes can also be a good option, although availability may be limited during the COVID period ”.

Pat yourself

Can not socialize too much but wrong socialization is easy to happen. Zazie notes that a common mistake is to do it too quickly and “accidentally scare the dog”. To prevent this, especially with puppies, Zazie encourages its owners: “Always follow the puppy’s body language. For example, don’t play shipping with your puppies, as they don’t give the puppies a choice and they may be afraid of being given to strangers.

Instead, give your puppy the freedom to reach new people – or not. The idea is not to flood or overwhelm the puppy with a stimulus that could be stressful or overwhelming. The same approach without forcing interactions should also be taken with older dogs lacking major socialization capabilities.

If at any time your dog becomes overwhelmed or starts reacting to other dogs or people simply increase the distance until your dog can focus on eating the delicious food again. .

Get the right equipment to mingle with your dog

Dog leather training chain – 6 legs: This simple 6-foot leash is a great sturdy leash that, when attached to your dog’s leash, allows you to be productive in socializing or reintegrating. $ 14.99- $ 25.99. jjdog.com

Logical Leather Dog Leash: This 6-pin leather leash is easy to buy and comes in several different colors. It’s important to keep in mind with the leather strap – maintain it regularly, especially if you go in the rain, and over time the leash will become softer and more comfortable. $ 44.99. chew.com

The Sunny from Trail Blazing Tails: This Crossbody / European leash design is perfect for anyone looking for a hands-free option. It’s a lightweight, customizable biothane that’s as durable as leather. Biothane does not hold odors and is great for use in the rain or if you and your dog are in / around water. $ 64. trailblazingtails.com

Featured Image: FatCamera | beautiful images

Continue reading: Things new dog parents need to know about ‘Getting in the car and training’



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