Socialization is very important, not only for puppies but for dogs of all ages. Socialization is absolutely crucial between 8-16 weeks of age. To minimize possible negative and fearful situations in the future, introduce your dog to different environments, people, pets and objects.
Your relationship with your dog should be built on trust, love and respect. Training and playing with your dog are great ways to build a strong relationship with him/her. No dog is ever too old to socialize and learn new things. Make small goals, if you prioritize your relationship with your dog, it will make all the difference in the world.
Try to avoid dog parks and pet stores, but perhaps try visiting low pet traffic areas such as; Old Navy, Chapters, Michaels, Home Sense, Starving Artists Café and Art Gallery, Canadian Tire, Bed Bath and Beyond, Winners, Marshalls, and many more! Vaccinations should be done on a responsible schedule. Having play dates with older, vaccinated dogs is a great idea too!
Last but not least, let your dog be a dog! Encourage your dog to explore his surroundings and expose them to the world, in a safe, but timely manner.
Three Things to Keep in Mind While Socializing Your Dog
1. Take your time, don’t overwhelm your dog. Always encourage your dog and let him know he can trust you! Never force your dog to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Training your dog takes a lot of patience.
2. Always keep it positive, treats, lots of treats! And most of all, don’t be afraid to use your squeaky voice! If your dog has a negative experience, try to replace it with five new positive experiences.
3. Stay calm and in control at all times. Dogs feed off of our body language, it’s important to always be calm and let your dog know it’s okay. Make sure you also have boundaries with your dog.
Written by Ashley Atkinson, Veterinary Technician