Whether you’re getting a new puppy or gave in to those sad eyes at the shelter, socializing your dog is important. Poorly socialized dogs tend to be fearful and standoffish or worse, aggressive. Think about the dog that won’t stop barking at everybody and everything when being walked. Or the one that’s always hiding from visitors. Fortunately, with proper socialization your dog can be the pup that everyone loves to greet every day. Here’s how to accomplish that task.
Socialization requires handling
If you’ve had a dog before, chances are you’re aware there’s more to loving your pet than giving him an anti-anxiety dog bed. Dogs love to snuggle up in their beds, but human touch is the key to bonding with your pet. To that end, you need to give him lots of petting. When you get home from work, reassure him of your affection.
Reassure him, then handle his ears
However, simply rubbing your fur baby’s back isn’t enough for proper socialization. Lots of dogs love to get their ears scratched. When Fido wants an ear scratch, be sure to handle the ear more intensively on occasion. If he has floppy ears, then flip the fold of the ear up and rub both sides gently. This will help him learn to tolerate handling and make ear cleaning easier in the future. For pointy eared dogs, you won’t have to “open” the ear but should still handle it.
Play with his paws, mouth, and tail
Similarly, it’s important that your pet learn to tolerate your playing with his paws. While your dog is relaxed, go over and rub his paws a bit. Touching those paws can also involve removing mud before it gets tracked onto his anti-anxiety dog bed. Be gentle, of course. Over time, your dog will learn to trust you with his feet, as well. This will help in several situations, such as when you need to clip his nails or have younger people over to visit.
Another place that dogs often dislike being touched is on their nose or mouth. While many dogs don’t mind giving out puppy kisses, sometimes having their people stroke them there puts them on the defensive. We don’t want that. So, when Fido is begging for attention the mouth should be touched on occasion. The same goes with his tail. A lot of kids get bitten playing with puppy tails, but if tail handling is normal for him, it’s less of a concern. If needed, reward him with treats. Before long, he’ll associate these types of handling with yummy treats.
Take him out in public
The next part of dog socialization is getting him out of his anti-anxiety dog bed, or even the yard, and out into the world. To that end, it’s important to expose your buddy to as many experiences as possible. Just be sure to take it slowly enough that he doesn’t overload. This can backfire.
Go for a walk
Everyone should be walking their dogs every day, and this is one of the best ways to socialize a puppy. When walking down the street, there will be people, other animals, and a wide variety of vehicles to experience. Take some treats with you, in addition to the required cleanup bags.
When someone comes along, teach your dog to sit. This keeps Fido from jumping up and knocking the person over.