It is important to socialize your dog, as young as possible (providing it is fully vaccinated) with other dogs and people. This ensures that your dog learns the difference between a friendly approach and a threatening one.
How to Socialize Your Dog with Other Dogs
Puppy schools and training clubs are good places to do this in a safe and controlled environment, but if you don’t have the extra cash, or there is not one nearby, you can socialize your dog with a friend’s dog (provided it is well socialized already).
It is easier to start them young, and if you and your friend(s) have puppies around the same age, the task will be much easier. Socializing young puppies is easier than adult dogs. If your dogs are adults, introduce them slowly and in a neutral environment, and leave them on their leashes, to begin with.
They will sniff each other as an introduction, but be wary of any growls or hackles raised. You don’t want any injuries to occur which will make future attempts at socialization even harder. They will sort out between them who is the higher ranking dog soon enough, but to begin with, you want to avoid a fight.
If there is any growling, raising of hackles, or other aggressive behavior, walk away from your friend and his dog for a few minutes, then try again. It may also help to walk your dogs side by side, but a yard or two apart. This will help them get used to the company and feel more relaxed about the ‘new dog’.
How to Socialize Your Dog with Other People
Introducing your dog to other people is usually fairly easy unless your dog has a behavioral problem. If the dog is nervous around people, advise your friends to approach the dog cautiously and slowly, emitting a friendly voice and demeanor. A little time sitting in your house with your dog will mean the dog will relax with this person.
Socializing with strangers can be a little more difficult, but if you walk your dog regularly where he sees lots of people out and about, he will soon be able to cope in a busy environment full of people without becoming stressed.
How to Socialize Your Dog with Children
When introducing your dog to children, never leave them unsupervised, no matter how well behaved your dog is. Kids can be clumsy and play roughly, pulling ears and tails, climbing, grabbing and making the dog very uncomfortable or nervous. Children need to be informed of the gentler ways to handle the dog, as even friendly dogs may become irritated or snap if hurt.
The Importance of Socializing Your Dog
Like with humans, socializing takes time. The more time your dog spends with other dogs and people, the better he’ll be able to deal with the unexpected approach of a stranger, be it human or canine.
We’ve all heard of stories on the news where dogs have attacked a child. Good training and socializing from the dog owner makes this scenario unlikely. It will also make it much easier when you go to the vet for check-ups.