How to Socialize My Dog, Pt. 1
When you have a pet, you face numerous challenges in terms of healthcare or grooming. But often, the part for which you encounter the most trouble is behavior. In this regard, socialization is an important process your pet needs to go through, as many pet experts attribute behavioral disorders to a lack of socializing. When it comes to socializing, there are significant differences between dogs and cats. This week, we’re going to look into dogs first.
The method of socialization depends on the dog’s age
For dogs, it is ideal to start the socialization process at 3 to 14 weeks of age. This period is called the “sensitive period.” It's a stage in which dogs become used to their surroundings and mentally prepare for communication and interaction. Socialization is not impossible beyond this stage, but methods likely vary and typically take more effort and time.
Puppy: Exposure to various environments
Adolescent, Adult dog: Eliminating Social Anxiety
Dogs that have missed early socialization may be wary of other pets and display aggressive behavior. They may even attack in the worst-case scenario. Therefore, it's critical to have them gradually lower their guard. One method is slowly introducing other pets into your home one at a time and allowing plenty of time for interactions with your dog.
If you are outside and there are other dogs around, first let your dog observe them from a safe distance. Then, if your dog shows interest, slowly walk him/her closer to the other dog; if your dog shows agitation, immediately maintain a safe distance. In this training, reward and discipline is crucial. (Make sure to only proceed this training with the consent of the other dog’s owner! You must also be able to keep your dog under control in the event of unexpected behavior.)