7 ways to socialize your dog

Part of raising a healthy, happy dog is making sure you socialize him! Not sure where to begin? Here’s a few pointers.

When you bring a new dog into your life (no matter his age), it’s important to socialize him with both people and other animals. A socialized pooch will be happier, healthier, and safer, and your life will be much less stressful. You’ll be able to go on vacation without anxiety, bring your dog on more of your daily outings, and your best friend might even find a best friend of his own! Read on for seven tips on socializing your fur baby.

1. Start Early

The easiest time to socialize a dog is when he’s young and/or new to your family. Start introducing him to people and other dogs right away – and as many as possible! Find men, women, children and canines of all sizes to introduce to your new companion.

2. Reward good behavior

Keep a constant supply of healthy treats on hand to reward your pup every time he behaves well around other people and animals.

3. Invite people to your home

Dogs need to learn that it’s okay for people (that you’ve invited) to enter the home. Your pup may think it’s his job to guard the house, but if he takes that job too seriously by barking incessantly, jumping, or attacking your guests… you may not have any friends left.  Invite as many people over as possible so he learns the difference between visitors and intruders.

4. Introduce animals on neutral territory

When it’s time to introduce your pup to other furry friends, keep in mind that your home is your dog’s territory. While some dogs are fine with inviting other dogs into their space, others are hesitant. To keep everyone safe and happy, head outside and start the introduction with a walk. Walk side by side with the other pup to let your dog know there’s no threat. Remember, it’s much easier to facilitate a proper introduction than it is to overcome a bad first meeting.

5. Set up play dates

While dog parks can be a good experience, there are many variables that can affect the quality of the outing. Rather than exposing your pup to an overstimulating environment right off the bat, find friends with dogs of similar energy levels and schedule a play date. Dogs should be introduced properly and should always be supervised during play.

6. Training classes

Training classes are not designed for socialization, but they do ensure that your pooch has good manners. Your pup needs to learn basic commands, not to jump on guests, how to walk well on a leash, and most importantly, he needs to know that you are the boss. As a bonus, training classes give your dog the opportunity to be around others of his kind.

7. Take frequent walks

Dogs have a lot of pent up energy. You may be tired from a long day at work, but your dog has been home sleeping all day and he’s ready to go! A good walk will tucker him out and expose him to new sights, smells, and potential friends along the way.

A well-socialized pup is a happy pup – and a happy pup makes for a very happy owner!