Too often we attend merrymakings during which the house hound is locked in a back room or outside. The host is often concerned about the puppy’s anxiety, over-stimulation or nonexistent manners when coping with the presence of humans or other dogs.
Ideally Fido would have been socialized as a puppy, but sometimes we adopt our furry friends a little later in life or we overlook the opportunity during the juvenile stages. With the holiday season rapidly approaching and Thanksgiving basically here, we at Pawderosa want to share a few tips and tricks to socializing your adult dog with both humans and other dogs.
You are bound to be hosting or attending an upcoming celebration in the coming weeks, so don’t leave your dog behind – as you prepare yourself, get him or her ready for a bit of foreseeable social anxiety.
Many scuffles occur when dogs are introduced on lead (leash). Canines are known to be more territorial when on lead. The tension from an owner frantically pulling on a leash can also make a dog tense.
When introducing two dogs in a social situation, avoid positioning them face-to-face. Instead flip them around, and with one arm around their stomach and one arm around their chest, prompt doggie ‘hello sniffing.’ After a few minutes, the dogs should be comfortable enough with each other to calmly carry on their dog introductions without human assistance.
If you are hosting an event, be sure your dog is on a leash with plenty of slack just in case of an emergency and have them sit. After letting a guest know you are working on socializing your dog, work on your “say hello exercise.”
Present the person with a treat and instruct them to give it to your puppy when directed. Walk your puppy over, have him or her sit and allow the guest to feed Fido. If the dog is anxious, don’t let the individual touch the puppy. If the dog appears calm, instruct your guest to touch the dog on the chest or back – not the top of the head, which is actually a dominating gesture.
In the Meantime
Continue to work toward socialization with some daily activities that will increase your dogs’ exposure to other puppies and people.
- Walk your dog daily – let out pent-up energy from being cooped up at home all day. Daily walks are a great opportunity to meet other friendly dogs and people. Don’t pull on the leash or yell if your dog is misbehaving, though. This will cause your dog to associate negative feelings with walks and other dogs. Maintain your clam, assertive energy. You are in control.
- Dog parks – once your dog has made some progress with daily walks, begin introducing him or her to a dog park. Start by walking the puppy around the outside of the fence and letting him or her watch the other dogs for a bit. Once your dog is comfortable around the other dogs, begin introducing him or her inside the dog park – begin on leash and with a muzzle if your dog is particularly feisty. Remember – take it slow. No need to rush.
- Positive reinforcement – Dog training requires lots of time and patience. Your dog is trying his or her best, so be positive and kind when socializing your puppy. Use treats and hugs to encourage and maintain your stern but understanding energy.
Joel Santiago – Professional Dog Trainer