Adding a new canine member to your family can be finding the missing puzzle piece (even if that piece has teeth marks on it). But, it can also be a touch overwhelming. There are so many things to remember, from crate training to teething and everything in between.
One to-do list item you don’t want to let fall by the wayside is socialization. Ensuring your puppy can play well with others will determine your and your dog’s contentment for years to come. If you need help sniffing out the finer details, here are six reasons dog socialization is a must for your new fur baby.
How to socialize your dog
From the moment your pup comes to live with you, you become responsible for how it responds to people, other animals, and outside stimuli. Just like you’d teach a human child how to play nicely, you’ll want to teach the same lessons to your new wet-nosed whelp.
Once your pup has had all its necessary vaccinations, it’s time to introduce it to other dogs and people. Invite friends over, make a few house calls, visit a dog park, or attend a local obedience class. In all these scenarios, rewarding your puppy with treats helps build a positive association with good behavior.
Another option for socializing is to leave it up to the pros. Breeders like Snowy Pines White Labs take on all the responsibility of socializing your pup before you bring it home, so you’ll never have to feel like you’re barking up the wrong tree.
While helping to socialize your dog yourself does take effort, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Socialization begins when your puppy is born and interacts with its mother and littermates, and you’re just picking up the torch as your pup’s new family.
1. To prepare for vet and groomer visits
When your socialized pup knows what to expect in its environment, stressors like vet and groomer trips are much easier on your dog’s blood pressure (and your ears if you’ve adopted a barkier breed). Socializing your dog can give it the tools it needs to self-soothe in the face of scary stimuli like needles and clippers.
2. To instill confidence
Understanding its environment helps your dog feel more secure, which will result in greater confidence to play and explore. Confident dogs are less likely to run away or experience separation anxiety, so both your canine and your couch cushions will thank you.
3. To help them get better exercise
While fetch and tug-of-war might burn some calories, nothing gets your dog moving more than playing with its peers. Dogs that aren’t socialized have trouble making furry friends, diminishing their exercise and quality of life.
Teaching your dog how to interact with other animals will help your little Air Bud explore his natural athleticism.
4. To help make traveling more enjoyable
Does your dog howl like a wolf every time you buckle him in for a short car trip? Socialization can help your dog better cope with a changing environment. Additionally, taking breaks for water and a quick walk will help your dog feel at ease on the open road.
5. To prevent anxiety
Unsocialized dogs struggle to cope with the uncertainty of new environments. In these kinds of scenarios, even humans are prone to develop anxiety, so it’s no wonder that your dog might turn into a scaredy-cat whenever you leave the house.
Dogs that constantly bark or hide at unfamiliar noises may be displaying signs of fear and anxiety. If your dog loves to reenact Courage the Cowardly Dog every time you have company, consider more in-depth socialization exercises.
6. To get along with neighbors
Everyone wants a harmonious living situation, and making sure your pup is socialized will help preserve a good relationship with your neighbors.
Socialized dogs have better “manners,” so to speak, and are less likely to act out or act aggressively in a way that can cause tension across the hedges.
Even if your pup didn’t get enough socialization when it was young, it’s never too late to help it feel more secure in its home environment. Every dog has its day, so help ensure that your puppy always has a good one.