First and foremost, a social dog is what most people want!
Dogs are naturally social animals, just like us. Yet, just like us they sometimes need help overcoming fears.
A social dog is a dog who:
- Is able to go out and about with family
- Has a better life and a stronger bond with family.
- Is tired from activities with family, which lends itself to a better-behaved dog at home.
- A dog that can go to the dog park or doggy daycare, getting loads of exercise and enrichment.
Socialization as a puppy is essential to raising your pup to be a social dog.
Animals are pre-programmed to fear the unknown. We have a window during the socialization period where puppies rebound more rapidly to new things as long as they are paired with good things according to puppy.
Dogs are assessing things greatly when they encounter them for the first time. This makes it of the highest importance that those “firsts” are positive experiences. Most often if those firsts are good experiences according to your dog, your dog will embrace these things occurring again and again.
Whether your dog has joined your family as an adult or as a puppy, keep a watchful eye on your dog when encountering anything new.
Pay attention to your puppy or dog’s body language. If ears are pressed back, tail is down low or tucked or it appears your dog is trying to make himself look small, slow down. Increase distance from whatever is making your dog fearful until your puppy or dog appears relaxed again.
Now be diligent in pairing the scary thing with good things like treats or play. Only going closer when your dog looks 100% fine at your current distance. Taking the time to address fear under any circumstances will give you the best outcome for achieving a dog who can go out and about with your family, and who is a joy to be around.
Give your new puppy or rescue dog their best shot at becoming a social dog! Be your dog’s best friend.