Some dogs are friendly with other dogs and humans. However, some dogs, irrespective of their breed, are always aggressive and the aggression extends to humans and other dogs as well. As a pet parent, you must socialize your dog from an early age; that means, while he is still a puppy. Early socializing can help prevent aggression and many other issues. Dog socialization actually involves many things including socializing it with the environment apart from getting him to meet humans and other dogs. Let us understand some important ways to socialize a dog with humans as well as other dogs along and discuss an important dog socialization checklist.
What does dog socialization mean?
Socializing a dog means getting him used to other dogs as well as humans other than its family members. It also includes getting him used to its surroundings, the sights, smells and noises of the area you live in. This is especially important if you have brought an older dog from another city or country. Many adult dogs actually turn aggressive if they are from a small town and are brought to a fast paced city. Naturally, socialization must actually start at a young age as it plays an important role in molding the dog’s personality and temperament. An un-socialized dog could even turn painfully shy or timid or conversely, extremely aggressive.
Un-socialized dogs and leash aggression
Leash aggression is usually seen in unsocialized dogs. What this means is a dog trying to attack another dog but is simply held back by its leash. Leash aggression starts with the dog barking at all other dogs it sees when it goes for its walks with the view to go over to meet them. Most owners though, instinctively pull their dog away and prevent them from meeting each other. Over time, this barking turns into aggression on account of being held back.
Important reasons to socialize your pet
- You want to socialize your dog because you do not want him to bark at other dogs or show leash aggression. Also socializing your dog will stop him from barking at every moving object.
- Socialize your dog so he does not bark each time the doorbell rings or a stranger comes to your place.
- You must socialize your dog so he grows up to be a friendly, fun loving companion you have always wanted.
- Socialization will help you prevent dog daycare boarding issues. It will help you easily board your dog hassle-free at a dog hostel each time you go away for work or on vacations.
- Socialize your puppy so he becomes a welcome member of your neighborhood and the community as a whole.
- Many dogs in the United States end up at the pound or end up being euthanized because of aggression. This behavior can be prevented through early socialization.
- A well socialized dog will be trusted by all. He will be able to make rational decisions when he is outside with you and can be surrounded by many people without him jumping on them or barking at them or, conversely, shying away from them.
Is your dog aggressive?
In order to identify whether your dog is aggressive, there is a checklist. Following are some signs of aggression in dogs:
- Trying to bite when afraid or nervous
- Is dominant
- Shows territorial aggression about its food, home, balls, toys etc
- Refuses to come out of its crate. The dog might bite a human who tries to bring him out of the crate or leash him or take him for a walk
Make sure you understand these signs of aggression early on. This will help you prevent many potential problems at later stage. If you have any questions or doubts, speak to an experienced vet or dog trainer/handler.
Dog socialization checklist
- As far as possible, socialize your dog before 16 weeks of age. This is an important age in a dog’s life and this is the time that will shape its personality. Socializing a dog after 16 weeks of age gets difficult because they start barking, have separation anxiety and also show unwanted behavior like chewing, barking excessively, biting people and your favorite things, or even defecating or urinating in house etc.
- Get your puppy to meet many people during this time as well as other dogs.
- Enroll your pet in an obedience school. Attend training sessions with your pet so that you can continue the same at home. You could also locate dog socialization classes near you.
- Bring all family members on board when training so you can use same commands and observe the same set of rules.
- This is an important time to get to bond with your pet. Use this time to introduce him to many things. Make him listen to the vacuum cleaner, the TV, loud music on stereo, dishwasher, lawn mowers, sounds of traffic, etc. Allow him to explore the garden and yard as well as the toys in your kids’ rooms. Make sure he is safe as he explores. Supervise your puppy during this stage.
- Take your pet to the park regularly. Let him experience car drives to places other than the vet’s clinic such as dog-friendly restaurants and other areas where dogs are welcome. Get him to meet many people. This is an important tip to help him socialize with strangers.
- Show your puppy different objects as well as wild life like birds, cats, squirrels, fish, etc.
- Never let your pet spend all day in kennels or crates. Let your puppy explore a bit. He should understand his environment. This is an essential part of the dog socialization checklist.
- Never let your pet come in contact with something that will scare them or damage them. For example, do not let your pet come in contact with an aggressive dog. This could scar your pup for life. Use your instinct and common sense when trying to socialize a nervous dog.
- Never purchase or adopt a puppy before 8 weeks of age. Let him stay with its dam and litter. The bitch can also play an important role in your pup’s socialization. She will teach him important things like bite restriction, how to bond with siblings, sharing etc.
Love and cuddles are important for your puppy’s socialization
During the time between 8 weeks and 1 year, give lots of love and cuddles to your puppy. Pick it up often. Give it a chew toy. Chew toys are an essential part of household training. It shows your puppy what is acceptable to chew and what isn’t. Allow them to explore but make sure they will not get hurt. Take him for walks on leash. Encourage people/kids to touch your puppy gently. Be cautious when walking your pet in parks with adult dogs that may not always be vaccinated.
Use these tips for dog socialization checklist to get a friendly, lovable companion you deserve. If you think it is too late to socialize your dog, speak to an expert handler to guide you.