Just like humans, dogs need socialization in order to live healthy lives. Especially when they’re young, it’s a good idea to properly socialize a puppy when they’re between two and fourth-months-old. Socialization is important because it helps a dog develop his or her personality and ultimately determines how he or she will act/react with things around them, including people, other dogs, and society in general.
How Dogs Learns
Society is made up of many sounds, sights and smells. A dog learns how to deal with all of that just like a little kid does. Do you want a fearful dog? No, you don’t. That’s why it’s important to expose your dog to the public and calm him or her down whenever needed. A dog owner is like a parent, reassuring the dog that “everything’s okay, baby.” Dogs take comfort in gentle touch, hugs, and companionship. Good socialization at a young age helps benefit the dog later on.
How, then, should you socialize a puppy?
Socializing a Puppy
Well, everything is essentially new for a little one. Therefore, expose them to everything. For instance, have them walk on different textures, from wooden floors to dirt. Let your dog figure out how to navigate stairs and slopes, with you being there “to catch him/her” if needed. Meanwhile, put your puppy in front of all sorts of people from different backgrounds. For example, have them be around people who don’t look like you. Maybe bring them to an old folks’ home so they’re exposed to senior citizens. And allow little kids to play with them, supervised, of course!
What happens during socialization when a puppy becomes scared or angry, for whatever reason? That’s your cue to use treats to make them feel better. Treats have a way of making puppies calm and happy. My goodness, aren’t they just like little kids, right?
Dogs have the innate ability to read emotions, so if an owner is scared, they’re going to be scared, too. Therefore, pet owners need to do their best to help their pets see the world in a positive way. The more confident and less nervous you, the owner, can be in various situations, the more likely your dog will model that behavior/attitude for their lives.
It’s a good idea to have help with socialization. Sometimes that means “letting go” as the owner, and allowing a friend or family member to spend time with your dog.
Ultimately, “small steps” make sense with socialization. For instance, if you want your dog to spend time around other dogs, first introduce your pet to other dogs about the same size and temperament. “Work your way up” to having your dog around dogs that are different-- especially really big, aggressive ones, which can be intimidating for both dogs and their owners.
If you acquire an older dog, much like with younger ones, do your best to supervise their exposure to new sounds, sights and smells, providing positive reinforcement along the way.
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