Dogs are bound to come in contact with different animals, people, situations, and sensations throughout their lives.
As they do not have natural social sensibilities, dogs need to be taught how to process different stimuli and react to them appropriately.
Socialization is the act of teaching pets to get accustomed to and react positively to other dogs and people and the environment.
It means exposing your pet to other animals, so they learn how to make friends. A dog needs to be adequately socialized as it plays a significant role in their behavior as they grow older.
Inadequate or no socialization can cause the dog to show aggression when encountering strange people and situations.
As a dog parent, the tips below can give you some ideas on how to help your dog get along with other dogs.
According to canine researchers and behaviorists, the sixth week to sixteenth week period of a dog’s life is the best time to get your dog socialized.
Their brains are highly receptive at this stage, and all the lessons and training they receive stay with them throughout their lives.
After your puppy has received all the necessary vaccines for their age, they can be slowly introduced to other dogs.
Incomplete vaccination and developing immune systems in puppies might make it risky to bring your pet around other pets.
However, you can limit your dog’s exposure during the early stage and gradually increase it as they grow older.
Create A Controlled Environment
Just as humans get nervous when meeting new people or experiencing new sensations, dogs also get scared of doing things out of their comfort zone.
Hence, it is left to the owner to create a safe and calm environment that will encourage dogs to be on their best behavior.
You might need to get rid of things that can cause excessive stimulation and distraction to allow your pet to keep their full focus on the dogs they are meeting.
Listen to Their Body Language
As dogs are incapable of talking, they communicate their emotions and feelings through their body and actions.
Sometimes dogs might not be ready to be exposed to many other animals at that point in time. They might also suffer from anxiety when in the presence of other dogs due to previous negative experiences.
Your dog might be intimidated by the dominant or aggressive nature of the other dog. Keep a keen eye on your dog and take notice of his demeanor.
The moment you sense a negative reaction in your dog, remove them from the triggering situation immediately.
A child learning how to swim is not thrown into the deep end at the very beginning. Likewise, an unsocialized dog should not be exposed to many animals at the early stage of his training.
Start by bringing your pet around a few dogs and increase his exposure as his confidence grows.
For instance, you can allow him to interact with one or two dogs in your neighborhood from afar for a while before getting them closer and introducing him to those dogs.
Use A Less Controlled Environment
If you have been gradually introducing your dog to other animals, he will undoubtedly have grown confident and will, therefore, be able to handle more challenges.
Your dog is ready to be brought around an increased number of dogs and in less controlled situations.
You can take your dog for walks in a park where he can meet with other dogs as a way to learn socialization. Doggy daycare and playdates are also excellent ways of getting your pet to meet more dogs.
Make Use of Rewards
With good incentives, dogs can be motivated to spend a significant amount of time relating positively with other dogs.
You can give your dog belly rubs, treats, pats, and toys whenever they behave appropriately around other dogs.
The right reward can entice your dog to explore a new situation and socialize with other animals.
Rewards can also be used to keep your dog fully involved in interactions with fellow dogs instead of getting distracted easily, especially in a less controlled environment.
Do Not Use Force
Force is not an effective method to use when you want to socialize your dog. Not only will you put your dog in an extremely stressful situation, but they might also become traumatized by a forceful approach.
If you have tried offering your dog rewards to pique his interest or created a calm environment, but your pet remains reluctant to interact with new dogs, then leave him alone.
If this behavior continues, you can visit the vet or animal behaviorist to find out the cause of your dog’s disinterest.