Socializing a dog can be a stressful task for dogs and dog parents. Dog socialization is essential so they can live happier lives and be a better dog citizen in society. Dogdrop, a dog care company in Los Angeles, specializes in dog socialization and founders Shaina Denny and Greer Wilk have provided their expert tips on socialization for every dog. So whether you are a new dog parent trying to socialize a puppy or trying to socialize an aggressive dog, continue reading for expert tips to help you on your journey.
How to socialize a puppy
We can’t encourage starting socialization as young as possible. This means with the utmost consideration to safety and health, of course. If your dog isn’t vaccinated, they should be socialized with completely healthy and vaccinated dogs in your home or with friends. It’s important not to wait until they are completely vaccinated to socialize them, because it can be a shock if they haven’t met any new dogs or people once they’re already 3-4 months old. Socialization isn’t just about other dogs, it’s also about textures, colors, experiences and people. The more of these things you can expose your dog to on a daily basis, the easier time they’ll have adjusting to new environments as they grow.
Once they are vaccinated, take them out slowly to places where they can safely interact with other dogs and people, and have new experiences. Walk them slowly around in busier areas, have some park playdates, and ease your way into the dog park. One of the most important parts about socialization is exposure to good experiences with other dogs. This builds your dog’s confidence so they understand that they don’t need to be scared. It’s okay if they do get scared, and often older dogs will correct your puppy or get a bit too rough. That’s normal, but it’s your job to reinforce that everything is okay, and that they are safe.
While you’re exposing them to new environments, people, and dogs, try to get an idea of what triggers them. Do they get annoyed when other dogs take their toys? Do they seem to mount frequently? Do they love to chase? It’s important to start learning what makes your dog tick, so you can really know what to work on with training or other interventions as they get older.
How to socialize rescue/shelter dogs
Socializing rescue/shelter or older dogs that you’ve just taken in can be a process. It’s hard to tell what can set them off or what experiences they’ve had before. It’s all about taking it slow and understanding what your dog needs. Some dogs just simply don’t enjoy socializing and want to stay home. Others can learn to love it. Unfortunately, we can’t force our dog to be the way we want them to be. We have to learn what they want and need and we can work from there to make slight adjustments. Just in the way you’d take it slow with a new puppy, the same rule of thumb applies to socializing older, rescue or shelter dogs.
It’s important for you to be able to observe them interact with different stimuli, while keeping them and other dogs and people safe. It’s best to keep them on a secure lead when out and about, but be careful not to make them feel like they should be on high alert. Help them understand everything is okay, and that they are safe. Watch how their body moves when other dogs or people are around.
Do they seem relaxed? Do they perk up curiously? Do their haunches flare as they lean into their collar or harness? Getting to know all these things about your dog can help you understand what sets them off before you take them to any off leash or group dog environments. Start with 1-1 interactions that you feel are safe. You can introduce new interactions once you have a better idea of how your dog operates.
How to socialize an aggressive dog
This is a tough one! There are so many variations of aggression, many of which people don’t fully understand. Aggression can arise for defensive reasons, it can be protective, it can be sheer anger or bullying. Very often, dogs may not intend to be aggressive, but their play style or introduction style to another dog can cause a chain reaction. When socializing an aggressive dog, it’s extremely important to figure out your dog’s triggers.
When do they get aggressive? Is it all the time? Do they get aggressive about toys or food or about you? Do they love humans but seem to hate other dogs? When you understand your dog’s triggers, you have a far better chance of re-socializing them. It’s also really important to understand what makes your dog feel calm. If they love dog chews or they love toys, have those on hand if you decide to try and socialize.
One of the most difficult things about socializing dogs that are aggressive is the unpredictability factor. Some dogs are completely fine one second and then can completely change in an instant. That’s why understanding your pet and putting them in the best position to feel good and calm while they interact with other dogs and humans is the key. If they have one good interaction, don’t push it. Call it a win, overload with praise, and get out. Keep doing that and you may find that things start to shift.
Socializing various dog breeds
There are certainly breeds that demonstrate more inherent friendliness, seriousness, aggressiveness, etc. But every single dog is completely different and a lot of what goes into a dog’s socialization skills relate to their environmental history and experiences. Just like humans with predispositions, how we are nurtured can punch those up or down. There are pit bulls who couldn’t be calmer or sweeter. And there are golden retrievers who are hyper aggressive. It’s not about the breed’s personality, as much as it’s about their physical ability to harm another creature, and how stable their personality is. Some dogs are volatile and act completely different in every situation, while others remain quite consistent.
The major concern with some breeds, particularly pit bulls and german shepherds, is their physical ability to do harm. They are large, extremely strong dogs that can do harm if they decide to get upset. Often pit bulls don’t know their own strength, and while they just want to cuddle you or another dog, that can set a dog off that isn’t expecting to be bowled over by a precocious 50 pounds of muscle. Education about your dog’s breed is important, understanding what they are predisposed to, what they were bred to do, and how they act in various environments can help you shape them and keep them out of any trouble. Even if they never start the trouble in the first place.
Bonus Tip: CBD for dogs may help in alleviating signs of situational stress or aggressiveness. Before taking them to a dog park or dog daycare, feed them calming CBD chews like Calming Chews for Dogs. The CBD and added chamomile and baobab promote relaxation and calm behavior during stressful situations.
If your dog won’t eat CBD chews, try a Hemp Oil. There are different options for pets based on their supplement preferences. Pet Releaf’s USDA Organic Hemp Oil is best administered on an empty stomach for max absorption while their Liposome Hemp Oil can be administered during or after mealtime without losing any effectiveness. Hemp oil for dogs may also support calmness and relaxation and has the added benefits of supporting a normal inflammatory response and supporting occasional hip and joint discomfort.
Written by Dogdrop
Dogdrop provides the best dog daycare and pet care service in Los Angeles. Their daycare provides a safe place for socialization, directed activity, training reinforcement, and much more. They have the best quality dog essentials for pet owners. Dogdrop is the best place for dogs to learn, exercise, and socialize to become happier and healthier dog citizens.