Socializing – Why is it so important?

Have you ever watched or noticed how dogs act when they are out for a walk with their owners? Or how they behave when taken to a doggy daycare or at the farmers market? Are they walking along with their heads up, tails wagging at people? Do they have their head hung down, tail tucked between their legs and looked scared to death? Today I hope to tell you how you can help your pup be the first one and not the second.

Today’s society has made it easier for us to enjoy time with our dogs. Breweries, wineries, restaurants and farmer’s markets all make it much easier for our best friend to enjoy some of the things we do. But there are certain things you need to make sure that happen for your pet before you them into a situation that could be overwhelming for them. It is our responsibility as dog owners to make sure our dogs are properly trained and socialized before taking them out into society. Unfortunately, approximately 1 in 4 to 5 dogs have behavior issues due to poor socialization. This is why we must start them out as puppies, or as soon as your adopted dog has relaxed and settled in. The first 3 months of a puppy’s life is the most important time for socialization.

When you bring your puppy home, the breeder should have already started the most important steps of socialization. They should have been handled from birth and learned to accept touching of all their parts including their tails, legs, ears and feet. If you notice your puppy still has some issues with that, start doing it right away. You can do it while watching tv or while reading a book. There is one time that it is important to make an effort everyday to touch them and mess with them. A lot of dogs have food aggression, it’s also one of the main behavioral issues rescued/adopted dogs have. When you mess with your puppy while they are eating this will help food aggression later on down the road.

A puppy needs to be exposed to as many places, people, animals and situations as possible. Now, this should not be started until your puppy has had its puppy vaccinations. Speak to your veterinarian as to when they feel it is appropriate for you to take your puppy out and about, especially pet stores. There are diseases that a puppy needs vaccinations from to protect to them, mainly Parvo. When you do take them out and about, you are going to need to reassure him or her. The world is a scary place for pups and older dogs, that haven’t been exposed to crowds and lots of loud noises. Make sure that your time out and about with the puppy includes car rides as well. That can be one of the most feared things your puppy will be exposed to.

Let your puppy with a number of different games and toys. Different types of surfaces is another thing to make sure you expose him to. Some dogs don’t want to walk on certain types of surfaces because they are unsure or it feels weird to them. I had a client bring their 1 year old Great Dane to me not only for obedience training but also because he wouldn’t walk on grass. For whatever reason, he just avoided grass while on walks as much as possible. But with training, patience, time and reassurance he now has no issues walking on the grass. Be sure to also let your puppy explore and investigate their environment. Let them learn their new home and feel safe and comfortable.

There is nothing better than being able to take your dog with whenever and wherever you go. Hopefully these tools will help make your puppy or older dog, feel more confident in themselves and you. Cheers to a more fun spring and summer (and the rest of their lives) with your dog!!!

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