Socialising your dog is a vital part of being a responsible pet owner. Proper socialisation means that your dog will be well-behaved and cooperative in situations where he needs to interact with people, dogs or other animals. If you’re wondering how to socialise a dog with other dogs, read on for some top tips.
1. Start Young
To help your dog become social, you need to start when the dog is a puppy. Young dogs should stay with their mothers until fully weaned and should already have a good level of socialisation before they leave their mothers. Dogs who are taken away from their mothers too young or who are poorly treated during their early development may have lasting behavioural problems. The period between three and 12 weeks of life is the most important for socialisation; at this point in their development, puppies are especially inquisitive, amiable and receptive to new experiences and new people.
2. Never Stop Socialising Your Dog
Socialisation is an ongoing process throughout your dog’s life. It’s not a one-and-done project that’s completed sometime after puppyhood and never needs to be addressed but a lifelong project that needs to be regularly revisited. It’s easy to fall into a rut, taking your pet to the same locations and interacting with the same people and animals every day. Try to vary your routine so that your dog meets new people and animals from time to time.
3. Provide a Range of Experiences
It’s important that your dog’s horizons are as broad as possible. Your furry companion may be perfectly confident around you, your other pets and the members of your household — but that doesn’t necessarily translate to confidence in other settings. A scared or irritated dog can be a dangerous dog. To enlarge your dog’s comfort zone, introduce him to many different people and animals. Take your dog to the park to meet plenty of unfamiliar people and their dogs, or meet other dogs in your area via pet social network apps. It’s also important that your dog visits new and varied locations. Get your dog used to unfamiliar surroundings by varying his route when you go for walks. Take your dog for car rides and trips to new locations so he becomes accustomed to encountering novel smells, sounds and surroundings.
4. Don’t Overdo It
While varied experiences are important, you need to be wary of overloading your dog with too many challenging or scary things at once. If your dog becomes fearful, don’t force him to remain in the distressing situation. You should also avoid reinforcing the dog’s impression that something is wrong by trying to reassure him. Instead, simply walk your pet away from the distressing stimulus and get him back into a comfortable situation. It’s okay to distract your dog with treats or toys as a way to get his attention away from whatever’s frightening him — just don’t make too much fuss, as this will feed into his sense that something’s wrong. Be realistic about the kinds of situation your dog will be able to handle. A dog park with a few friendly walkers and their pups is a good starting point; a crowded, noisy city centre location is less constructive.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Seek Expert Help
Some dogs are simply harder to socialise than others — especially if they’re already mature and have passed the 12-week limit. If you’ve tried various methods and your dog is still hostile or nervous around new people and animals, consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer to advise you on how to socialise your dog. Dog trainers can help your dog overcome many of his problems and can give you advice for managing anxiety and aggression. Pet social network apps can help you find someone in your area to give you the support you need.
6. Join the Local Dog Community Through a Social Dog App
Nowadays there are many digital ways for you to connect with local doggo communities, and a social dog app might the best to go to if you want to connect with other pooch parents for dog park play dates. PatchPets is Australia’s first social dog app designed to help you socialise your fur babies with other doggos. Download PatchPets now, and maybe your pooch will find their best friend furrever!
Free app available on both iTunes and Google Play.