Socializing your dog is a very important aspect toward having a well-adjusted, well-behaved pet. Of course, it’s also usually fun to take your dog for walks, to the park or even for a ride in the car. But even if you don’t particularly enjoy taking your dog places, it’s still important to get him out of the house, off your property and into the outside world.
Being a well-socialized dog means being your pet should be comfortable with many things in life. In order to avoid behavior problems such as excessive barking, separation anxiety, fear, aggression and many more, your dog should be socialized with people, other dogs, bicycles, joggers, noises, trash cans and as many more things as you can possibly think of.
How does socialization relate to the problems mentioned above? For example, dogs who are comfortable with people, dogs and bikes are less likely to bark excessively when normal neighborhood happenings occur near your house. Dogs who are thoroughly socialized are far less likely to have confidence-related problems such as separation anxiety, fear or aggression.
When taking your dog out for socialization, it is important to handle situations correctly. Remember that whenever you pet a dog, you’re praising a dog. Therefore, if your dog is afraid of something he’s seeing, be sure not to pet him while he’s acting afraid. Instead of feeling soothed, your pet is likely to feel you are reinforcing his fear, as if you’re saying, "Good boy be afraid.” Instead, when your dog acts afraid redirect his behavior to a more relaxed activity such as doing an obedience command, giving paw or playing ball. Then, when he acts more relaxed, that’s the appropriate time to pet and praise.
Other ideas for socialization include bringing your dog "out front” when your kids are playing outside, attending a group class, going to dog-related events and more. To learn about upcoming group classes including Puppy Socialization Class, you can visit www.BestPawOnline.com/news-and-events.
By making sure you take your dog out into the world on a regular basis, you can avoid problems and even help solve existing ones. You’ll probably also have some fun doing things with your pet and family together!
Lori Verni is a freelance writer, Certified Master Trainer and owner of Best Paw Forward Dog Education, along with husband Frank. She is also the author of "Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies & Adult Dogs.”