To raise a well-behaved dog, training them to be socialized even as a puppy is crucial to their behavioral development. When a puppy is continually exposed to new people, places, and situations, they’ll most likely be calm and accepting when they experience them again later in life. Dogs are at their most receptive between three and twelve weeks of age, so the earlier that you can get your dog socialized, the better. But what if you only got your dog when they’ve passed this twelve-week mark? Or what if they were too sick when they were a puppy? How do you exactly train your dog to be more socialized?
Tips to Train Your Dog to Be More Socialized
1. Walk your dog every day.
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Dog walks reduce pent-up energy due to the stimulating sights and the walking exercise itself, so they should be calmer and more submissive. Introduce your dog to a wide variety of people, including men, women, children of all ages, people in wheelchairs, men with beards, and people wearing all kinds of clothing. Let your dog see large objects fall or move. Expose them to noises like trucks and crowds of people. Remain calm, and reward them for remaining calm. You can also try taking them to a dog park, but don’t go in immediately. Allow them to observe the other dogs first. Whenever a dog comes near the fence, throw your own dog a treat. This will let them positively associate other dogs’ presence.
If your dog reacts aggressively toward other dogs or people, do not pull back on the leash or yell at your dog, as this agitates them and makes the experience negative. Soon, your dog will get used to the presence of different people and animals.
2. Put a muzzle on them when approaching other dogs.
If your dog barks or growls at other dogs, use a muzzle. Besides preventing them from biting or attacking, a muzzle can also make dogs calmer so they become more receptive to meeting others and have a more positive experience.
3. Ask your friends’ and their dogs’ help.
If some of your friends have dogs, walk with them. Later, invite your friends over at your place, at least one each week, to expose your dog to the scent of another human and another dog in the house, especially when they see you positively socializing with these “strangers.” Have your friend offer a treat and speak in a happy, low, encouraging voice instead of using a high pitch, which could excite the dog. Keep your dog on a leash at first, but do not force them to go near the person. Let them take their time.
4. Slowly bring your dog along to different social activities.
Let them ride in your car when you eat out, visit the groomer or pet supply store, or travel. Using a leash and muzzle helps in the first few times. Give them treats and praise to encourage them to approach unfamiliar people and objects. But remember never to push them past their comfort level or they may become fearful of the things you are trying to get them to accept. Start with one new activity a week.
The key here is to make the experience as positive as possible. Negative reinforcements won’t work well in this process and will likely create a more nervous dog. In due time, your furry best friend will be at ease in the house and in public the more your train them to be socialized even when they have grown up.
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