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Socialization helps to limit fear in situations and can prevent future behavioral issues. We’ve put together some tips for socializing your dog to help you out!
Between three weeks and four months of age is the best time to socialize a puppy. This is because they are going through a critical period of development during this time. However, don’t fret if you have an older rescue; you can always teach your old dog some new tricks!
Be sure to have a secure harness and leash when introducing your pooch to new dogs. Pay attention to your dog’s and the other dog's body language to see if they seem aggressive or uncomfortable. The more interactions your pup has, the more secure he or she will feel when meeting new friends.
Go for walks
Exposing your pup to different locations through various walking routes will allow him to experience common neighborhood objects (bikes, strollers, benches), sounds, people, and creatures. Allowing your dog to become acquainted with these environments will allow him to be more at ease with these stimuli in the future.
Introduce different types of people
If your pooch is only around one type of person (i.e. only men or only grown ups), he or she may become fearful of others whom he or she views as different. Allow people of all ages and sizes to interact with your dog to minimize skittishness. Also, consider bringing your furry friend around those who are wearing different types of dress (hoods, jackets, sunglasses, and hats) along with exposing your dog to people with beards and in wheelchairs or using a cane.
Visit the dog park or a pet-friendly shop
When visiting a dog park, begin by walking your dog around the perimeter of the park to let him observe from a distance. Slowly build up your pup’s courage to enter the park by approaching the fence and letting him sniff and interact with the other dogs. Then, once your dog is comfortable allow him to roam and meet new friends at the park. You may also take a trip to your local pet shop for small-scale contact with other pups. We’d love to see your furry friend at one of our locations!
Partake in food bowl exercises
Another avenue for getting your puppy to be more comfortable is to have a person come near their bowl while the pup is eating. This can help prevent dogs from feeling anxious about others nearing their valued resources. Approach your furry friend when he or she is eating and drop a treat in the bowl and walk away; then progress to picking up the dish and putting in the treat then walking away. Repeat during meal time until he or she is visibly excited about your approach. Be careful if you’re adopting a pooch who is known to show food aggression.
Don't punish fear
Try to stay calm and confident if your furry friend is scared. Aggression can be a result of your dog’s fear, and punishing this reaction can confirm her fear. If your pooch is acting skittish or combative, remove her from the situation and ask for another behavior.