Maybe you have noticed that some dogs are calm and friendly when meeting new people or dogs, while others bark, seem fearful and aggressive. This is because some dogs have been well socialized, and others not. Socializing your dog will introduce it to many different situations, sounds, people, animals, objects, that will make it confortable with these same situations in the future.
Benefits of socializing
Socializing teaches your dog how to react to all kinds of situations in a good healthy way, without any fear or aggression. He or she will enjoy meeting new people, other dogs, staying at a friend's house for the day, and trying out new things.
Your dog will be much calmer, more confident and happier, so it is essential for his or her well-being.
Socializing your dog as a puppy
The younger a dog can be socialized, the better. We recommend starting when your dog is a puppy, as soon as they are up to date with all their vaccinations.
It is possible to socialize older dogs, and sometimes that's the only option, if for example you got your dog from a shelter, but it generally takes much longer, is more frustrating, and is generally a lot more frightening for the dog than it would be for a puppy.
Puppies under the age of 7 months are more inquisitive and without fear, so it is the best time to introduce them to all kinds of situations, noises, people, other dogs, children, etc. After that age they become more fearful and worried about situations they have not encountered before.
Socializing your dog benefits you as well
If your dog is well socialized, it makes your life easier too, as you will not (or no longer) have to worry about your dog's behaviour when you take him or her to the vet's, if you meet other people or dogs when you take your pet for a walk, if friends come to visit you, or if you need to leave your dog in kennels when you are away, or if you wish to take your dog to day care. Additionally, dog walkers, dog boarders and day care centers usually require that a dog has at least somewhat socialized.
How and where to socialize your dog
You could socialize your dog yourself by introducing him or her to many different people of different ages, and to other dogs if you have friends who have dogs themselves, or if you live close to a dog park. But the best way to get your dog well socialised is to attend a dog socializing club where he or she will be meeting different people (trainers and dog owners) and dogs over time, and be actively introduced to different situations and sounds. Puppies generally have a play time with the other dogs, which benefits greatly in socializing them.
At Dog's Stroll, we require that adult dogs are at least partially socialized if we take them for day care, so that they do not show any agressivity towards other dogs in our care or our staff members. However we will also help with getting them more socialized during their stay with us.