By, Katy Cable-TWR
A 2 min. Read
Is your dog as popular as the middle seat on an airplane? With so many people getting “a new addition” for the holidays, I thought it was important to address this topic. In fact, failing to properly socialize your dog can mean MAJOR headaches for everyone.
Why is this such a big deal? Believe it or not, dogs that aren’t properly socialized usually display serious behavioral problems making them unsuitable family pets. Nearly half the dogs relinquished to shelters have at least one behavioral problem. The most common being aggression and destructiveness. These traits are usually rooted in fear and anxiety.
Hopefully you had the opportunity to begin socializing your dog as a new puppy but it’s never too early to begin exposing them to as many new people, animals, environments and other stimuli as possible. The key is to do so without overwhelming them. By engaging all of your dog’s senses though exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of daily life as well as constantly introducing them to new ones they will be able to handle a variety of new experiences and challenges without exhibiting behavioral problems. Being able to trust your dog will handle situations with acceptable behavior brings peace of mind to you and your confident canine! Here are a few suggestions to try with your new dog or puppy that has completed some basic puppy training:
- I’m a HUGE fan of obedience classes. They provide an environment where all the dogs (and their owners) are kept under the control and guidance of a skilled trainer. This can be very helpful if your pet seems wary or fearful around other dogs. Organized classes give them the opportunity to be around other pups, but from a safe, trusting, supervised distance. PetSmart (http://www.petsmart.com/) offers a variety of reasonably priced and convenient classes. Or check pet stores in your area.
- If you have friends with dogs, arrange play dates. Begin with one dog at a time. Start the introduction with a short walk in a neutral territory then once they have gotten to know each other try letting them play in a safe, enclosed area. This is another low pressure social situation in which your pup can hone his skills without being overwhelmed by too many dogs, or an overly dominant or possessive dog. If things go well, you can arrange future outings for the four of you to take walks or hikes, toss Frisbees, fetch tennis balls, go swimming, etc.
- If it makes sense for you and your dog, get involved in dog agility competitions. These events provide a great opportunity for your dog to be around other dogs and people while getting lots of exercise, mental stimulation, and building a stronger bond with you. Check out The Zoom Room (http://www.zoomroomonline.com/) for a variety of obedience, therapy-dog, and agility classes. Locations are nationwide.
- If agility isn’t for you, some other high-energy activities, including flying disc, dock jumping/dock diving, flyball, flygility, herding, hunt and field trials, musical freestyle and heel work, to name just a few. Check out: http://dogplay.com/ for lots of organized exercise and socialization possibilities.
- A fabulous socialization activity I have enjoyed is therapy dog work. Depending on your dog’s temperament and personality, you can have them pass simple training to be a therapeutic visitation dog. You and your dog can make visits to hospitals, nursing homes, detention units, rehab facilities, schools, senior citizen apartments and other places where people aren’t permitted to keep pets or aren’t able to care for them. It’s extremely rewarding for everyone. Find more information at: http://tdi-dog.org/
- Another possible option for socialization and exercise is to enroll your pet in a doggy daycare program one or two days a week. It’s very important the facility you choose has a knowledgeable staff trained in dog communication and interaction, separate play areas for dogs of different sizes, and supervised playgroups. Be certain they are doing extensive temperament tests on all dogs to evaluate their behavior in the daycare environment. Introduction to the pack should be gradual for all new dogs.
- I enjoy doing “meet-ups” with other dog groups. Twice a month we meet at the local dog beach and dog park to see old friends and make new ones. I prefer this to visiting these places on my own since there’s safety and security in numbers. For new or more timid dogs, try a visit to the park or dog beach during slower weekday times. It is less crowded and intimidating. Check my home page, meet-up sites or evenbrite.com for activities and meet-ups in your area. Enjoy the YouTube videos from some fun pug meet-ups.
- Last but not least, never underestimate the socialization value of good daily walks. Maybe mix it up and try a new, unfamiliar neighborhood for a change of pace with your dog. You both get fresh air, stress-relieving endorphins and perhaps even a little cardio exercise. I LOVE dog walking and the fun opportunities it brings for us both to meet old and new friends! -Both two and four-legged!🐾
💕Big thank you’s to Pupstar Sonoma’s Roxy, Bono & Blue appearing in one of my all-time favorite photos.
🐾Katy Cable is a former actress appearing in “Back To The Future” and starring in the TV series: “Safe At Home” & “ Fired Up!” In addition to her dog health & lifestyle blog/vlog: The Weekly Runt, (https://www.weeklyrunt.com/) she’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including Thrive Global, & The Huffington Post. Cable lives at the beach with her husband, Rick and her rescue Pug, Olive.🐾
Originally published at https://www.weeklyrunt.com.