Top Tips on Pet Socialization

BY | April 22 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Top Tips on Pet Socialization

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Socialization is important for your dog's wellbeing. However, it is not as simple as just putting your dog amidst strangers or in a new setting and asking him to interact with them. You want to ensure that your dog is socialized in the right way, right place, at the right pace.

Starting off on the right note

Even if the only socialization that your puppy has had is in its early days with the other litter pups, it is a good place to start. Some puppies are taken into homes even before they socialize with the litter, giving them very little exposure to any canine social bonding. If your puppy falls under the second category, then you want to be careful about the social setting that he is introduced to initially. Pet owners often ignore the effects that a bad social experience can have on such pets.A random unpredictable social experience may leave your pet frightened, which can culminate into aggression or fear in the long run, well into their adulthood. Once your puppy grows accustomed to a social scenario it becomes fairly easier, and you will not have to be as protective of him during socialization. Puppies that have had their good share of positive experiences will experience lesser shock from unpleasant social experiences in the long run.

Watching for cues

It may difficult to understand how much of socialization your pet needs initially; you do not want too little or too much. The key is to watch how your dog responds in a social scenario. If he is curious or enthusiastic, then you want to continue. On the other hand, if you notice any signs of fear, aggression or panic, and catch him trying to run away, then that is probably not a good sign; you want to bring that socialization episode to a stop.You can then gradually introduce your pet to social situations and use positive reinforcement techniques- treats or praise- to have him grow relaxed and comfortable while socializing.

Socialization is more than meeting other dogs

Socialization is not just about dogs having interactions with other dogs, it includes experiencing new things and situations. It could be anything from learning how to climb up the stairs to going to the vet. If your dog is confined to the walls of the kennel for the most part of the day, and the only time he gets out is during the daily walks, then you want to gradually get him accustomed to new experiences.When you do take him to these new places, give him the time and space to explore the different sounds, sights, and surfaces. Once he gets used to the idea, it's about introducing him to strangers, whether it is people, pets or other animals. He should grow comfortable with playing, being held or petted, without showing any signs of fear or aggression.

How to Make Your Pet More Social

Is your pet a social butterfly or people-shy? Veterinarians can instantly tell if an animal has been socialized. Some animals leap up and are happy to see the doctor and everyone else in the waiting room. Others take cover behind their owner and do not want to come out as life is stressful for them.Socialization makes all the difference. It is the key to having a well-behaved cat or dog. When kittens or puppies are introduced to a variety of other animals, environments and people during the first few weeks of their life, they do better, are not as stressed and have relatively fewer problems later on in life. When they are young, they take new experiences in their stride. However, as they grow older, they become scared and nervous when they are confronted with something or someone new.

How to go about it?

The key to is to start when they are young and introduce your new cat or dog to as many new things as possible. Here is what you can do:

  • Start when they are a few weeks old โ€“ Kittens and puppies should be socialized before they are sixteen weeks old. People have a tendency to isolate their pets when they are young and erroneously think that they will get them used to different environments after a year. The perfect time for this kind of pet training is between three and twelve weeks of age. The window starts closing around eighteen weeks. The time period is even younger for kittens. If you are going to adopt an adult dog, you miss out on the opportunity to socialize. But even they can get used to people they see on a regular basis.
  • Set goals โ€“ Think clearly about what and who a puppy will be around as it gets older. Make a list of things that your pet needs to be socialized to. That includes children, crying babies, men, women, people of different nationalities, people wearing hats, crowds, and more. The wider the variety of people your pet is exposed to, the better.
  • Expose them to different environments โ€“ Take your puppy for a walk on concrete, grass, through pet stores, on quiet streets, busy streets, areas with other animals โ€“ and near trucks, cars, trains, and buses. You can take your dog for a ride in the car through different parts of the town, through car-washes, and through drive-throughs. This is also the time to get them used to being handled during grooming.

Socialization tips

  • Daily schedule โ€“ Socialize your pet every day during the first sixteen weeks. Let strangers pet your dog.
  • Reward your pet โ€“ Give positive reinforcement in the form of a small treat when your pet socializes well.
  • Give it 75 minutes โ€“ It takes puppies and kittens 75 minutes to get used to a new thing. So it is important to give them some time.
  • Go to kindergarten โ€“ If your puppy has not received all its vaccinations, sign up for socialization classes at an animal hospital. It is a safe environment and the classes are meant to introduce your pet to a variety of sights, sounds and smells, and can even assist with obedience training.
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