Dogs are man's best friend, right? Most dog owners want their pets to be happy, healthy and to live a full life. One of the best ways to ensure that this happens is to take the time to socialize your best friend with other people and with other dogs.
Introducing Your Dog to Other People
Socializing can begin the first day you bring your new dog home, or at anytime if you already have a dog. When you begin training your dog, keep things low-key. If he gets highly excited, it's more difficult to work with him. Get him used to the sound of your voice in a normal volume. Pet him, rub his belly or scratch him behind his ears--whatever seems to work for him. As he enjoys the attention, he'll come to associate good feelings with your presence. When it seems that he is comfortable with you, bring another family member into the scenario. This may take some time; you have to judge your dog and go by his timetable. If you're introducing a new person into the socializing process, it might be a good idea to have them take the dog for a walk with you accompanying them to ease any stress the dog may feel. As the dog becomes more social, introduce more people to him in the same quiet, easy-going manner. Soon the dog will realize that people are good to be around and lots of fun, too.
Training Your Dog for Small Children
Care should be taken when introducing a dog to a small child. Dogs who seemingly get along fine with adults might not like children who tend to be more vocal and can startle a dog easily. Also, children can be more tactile. While they would like nothing more than to show the doggy how much they love him with a big hug, some dogs will not tolerate such behavior. Even if there are no small children in your house, you never know who you might meet while on a walk with your dog, or who eventually might be in your house if you invite guests with small children to your home. Regardless of how well-behaved your dog is with children, never leave him alone with any child under the age of five, or any child who your dog is not familiar with.
A good habit to get into while walking your dog is to use the "heel" command. When someone approaches you and asks if she can pet your dog, have Fido sit, and then ask the the person to let him sniff her hand before she pets him. Most dogs like the affection and enjoy the attention, and will soon welcome new greeters by sitting immediately with a wagging tail, just waiting for the love.
Meeting Other Dogs
Socializing your dog with other dogs is a smart thing to do, even if you have no intention of owning multiple dogs at the same time. Dogs are very social creatures and sometimes just need to have the company of their own kind. This is why dog parks are so popular. It is such a joy to watch dogs interact and play with each other. However, if you have a dog who isn't socialized, then you and your dog are missing out on a wonderful experience.
Before joining the local dog park and thrusting Fido into the mix, start off by taking him for a walk with a friend and her dog that has, preferably, an easy-going temperament and that is known to act well with other dogs. Keeping the dogs on their leashes with firm control is important, especially at the initial meeting. Just give them time to sniff each other and make their introductions, and then begin walking them. Watch how they interact, and soon you will see a companionship come about between the two.
If you join a dog park, it would be best to bring Fido to it when it isn't too crowded. Ease him into the group, which might be a bit overwhelming at first. Go by your dog's timetable. You have to read his cues to see when he is ready to interact with others, whether people or canines.
Properly socializing your pooch is a wonderful gift you can give him, your family and yourself. It may take some time, but the benefits you reap will last a lifetime. It will make for a happier, healthier dog who is more enjoyable to be around and who is truly a member of your family. That is something all dogs want - and deserve.