Socializing your dog is a crucial aspect of dog training and ownership, perhaps even more so than teaching basic obedience cues. By socializing your dog properly, you are teaching her that the people (such as her dog trainer, groomer, and veterinarian), animals, and objects she encounters on a daily basis do not pose a threat; in fact, these things can even be fun.
Although dog parks and training classes are great places to meet other canine friends, placing a dog into such a pressuring situation can be overwhelming. What other options are there?
Socialization During Dog Walks
A great time for socialization is during your daily walks. Before leaving your home, grab several dog training treats and store them away in a treat pouch or pocket. When a stranger approaches, show off your training skills by having your dog sit next to you. Then, hand your neighbor some treats. Ask him to slowly approach your dog and give her a few treats from his open hand at the dogís level. Praise her lavishly for taking the treats. Continue your walk and repeat the above dog training scenario for each person you come across, making sure the dog sits before receiving the treat. Giving your canine treats around strangers will help build a positive association to approaching humans. The dog will soon learn that new friends are fun (and rewarding!).
Watch Kids Closely
Work on socializing your dog to different people of various ages, genders, races, and who are wearing unfamiliar clothing accessories. Donít allow anybody to act threatening towards her. Be cautious around anyone who might try to approach the dog too quickly. Remain aware around young children who, if comfortable around animals due to having pets in the home, might jump or scream with enthusiasm when they see a dog. If she shows signs of fear or aggression or has in the past, do not attempt the exercise without an experienced animal trainer present. These behavioral issues require the help of a seasoned professional.
By incorporating obedience cues with proper socialization, your dog will grow up to be a well-mannered member of the family, with friends all throughout your neighborhood.