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Socializing your dog with other dogs and people is a vital part of his emotional health. By introducing him to the people, animals, and places that he is likely to encounter in his lifetime in a controlled way, you are teaching your dog to deal with these situations calmly.

It is important to remember that there is no magic bullet to socializing your dog. Every animal is different and no one method will work every time. Socializing your canine is a step-by-step process best done slowly. 

Only Socialize With Dogs You Know to be Nice

It’s very common for new owners that want to socialize their dog with other dogs to immediately take them to the dog park. This is actually the wrong thing to do.

The problem with dog parks is that there is no guarantee that the other dogs your dog is going to meet there will be as nice as your dog. A bad experience when your dog is just starting to find his feet, could be disastrous for his confidence.

A better way to socialize your new dog is to take him to a playgroup so he can play with other pup’s or dogs of a similar age and size to yours. Even better, socialize with friends that also have well behaved dogs that you know are going to be gentle with your dog.

Keep a Diary of Your Dog’s Triggers

Go to a stationary store and buy a diary. Don’t get one of those really small pocket diaries that show a week per page. You want one that is large enough to write lots of notes in, but small enough so you can carry it wherever you go.

In your diary, keep detailed notes of all the different people, places, and situations, that make your dog uncomfortable.

Write about:

  • What he was doing before, during, and after, he reacted.
  • How far away your dog was when he reacted.
  • What body language messages he sent before he reacted.
  • What he got from the situation.
  • What you did when he reacted.
  • What the other person or animal did. 

The more you write in your diary, the better you’ll understand your dog and what makes him uncomfortable.

Keep a Diary of Your Dog’s Triggers

Remove the Triggers That Cause Him to React

Once you have built us a picture of what makes your dog uncomfortable, you can then identify the common triggers and remove or avoid them. For any that can’t be removed or avoided, you can develop a plan of action that will help your dog deal with the situation.

For instance, if your dog reacts whenever someone knocks at your front door, then you might consider purchasing a crate. Then when someone comes to your front door, you can train your dog to go to the crate where he will feel safe and secure.

If it is meeting other dogs that causes your dog to react, then use your diary to learn the signs that he gives when he is about to react. Then develop a plan of what to do when he shows those signs that you can apply to stop a situation from developing. Should the sight of people and other dogs walking past outside the home be causing your dog to react, then maybe you can erect a fence so passers by are no longer as obvious.

Just use what you wrote in your diary to identify the common triggers that make your dog uncomfortable. Then think of ways you can prevent those triggers from occurring, or divert your dog’s attention when they do occur.

Keep Your Dog’s Experiences Varied

Meeting  other dogs and people is a crucial part of socializing your dog. However, don’t forget to also familiarize him with different sounds, smells, and textures.

For instance, if you live in a home that has carpets in every room, take your dog somewhere where there is a slippery hardwood floor. If you live in a single story house, take your dog somewhere with lots of steps so he can get used to going up and down them. If you don’t have children, take him to see friends or relatives that do, so he can get used to squealing youngsters, or crying babies.

Enjoy the Experience

Socializing is an important part of your dog’s training. However, you should not become obsessed with introducing him to every imaginable experience in the shortest time possible. Make socializing your dog to new things a fun thing to do throughout his life. His and your life will be much richer for the experience.

Dog Socializing Takeaways

  • Only socialize with dogs you know to be nice.
  • Keep a diary of your dog’s triggers.
  • Remove the triggers that cause him to react.
  • Keep your dog’s experiences varied.
  • Enjoy the experience.