One important aspect of responsible dog ownership is ensuring your dog is comfortable and well-behaved around others. Socializing your puppy is crucial and should begin early on, as it sets your dog up to feel confident and happy throughout her life.
The American Kennel Club offers the following tips for owners when socializing their puppies.
Start off slow. Be sure to start the socialization process off slowly; expose your puppy to different people, places, and things every day. Don’t go right to the dog park if your pup hasn’t interacted with other dogs before. It can be overwhelming, and you dog could get nervous around other pooches.
The nose knows. It’s natural, when your dog first comes home, for her to start sniffing around to get to know people and things in the home. Let her sniff around to get acquainted with her new surroundings and introduce her to different smells.
Plan a play date. The best way to set up a play date for your pup is to meet up with one dog at a designated time, and to make sure that dog is well-mannered, polite and calm. This ensures that your dog will have an acceptable greeting modeled to them. It’s best to meet up after your dog has had some exercise so they are not overly excited when socializing.
Sign up for a class. A group dog training class is a wonderful way to expose your puppy to other humans and dogs in a structured and safe environment. There are classes ranging from socialization for puppies to teaching older dogs basic commands. A class is also a good opportunity to develop the relationship between you and your canine companion.
Take it easy on the leash. When you are out and about and run into other dogs, try not to restrain your dog too forcefully on her leash. This can cause your dog to accidentally assume an aggressive posture that can be misunderstood by other dogs. A harness is a good way to reduce pulling.
Meet all kinds of dogs. It’s important to expose your pup to all different types of dogs – big, small, quiet, loud, active and so on. If your dog has only ever interacted with the same kind of dog, it can be a surprise to meet others.
Supervise. Always supervise your dog when socializing. It’s the best way to ensure that your dog and others are behaving appropriately and to prevent situations from arising.
To learn more about responsible dog ownership, visit the AKC at www.akc.org
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