Just like human babies, the early days of a puppy’s development are when many of a dog’s lifelong habits will be created. From potty training to walking on a leash, dog owners should be willing to invest the necessary time and energy to train their precious pooches well. Socialization is no exception to this rule. In fact, socializing your dog at an early age is one of the most important steps to ensuring a happy future together.
Puppies need to be introduced to new situations and individuals, because it allows the dog to build a healthy sense of self-confidence. Many skittish dogs were not properly socialized as puppies, and therefore find themselves fearful of nearly everything. Timidity is primarily a learned behavior, but by spending time acclimating your dog to new places and people, you’ll be showing him that he has no reason to be fearful.
Dogs also need to meet other pooches, as it allows them to learn the appropriate behavior in the presence of other doggies. One of the best places to meet other dogs and their owners is at the local park. In order to ascertain that such encounters will go smoothly, you’ll want to ensure that you are prepared to handle any situations that could possibly arise.
As you leave for the park, make certain to place your dog on a long leash. This leash will allow him room to move around and make friends with other dogs, but will also allow you to pull him back if something unexpected were to occur. You want to show your dog that you are the one in control, as you are the pack leader. If something that makes your dog uncomfortable occurs, you need to make certain to handle this appropriately. In doing so, you will show your puppy that you are there to protect him.
When a puppy shows fear, it is best to address the situation, rather than the dog. For example, if someone were to approach the dog and scare him, ask the person to step backwards. This will reinforce your leadership to your little pooch, and will build his trust in you. You also want to make certain that he knows that meeting new people, experiencing new places, and encountering other dogs is a positive thing! Show him a positive attitude and encourage him whenever possible. Remember, you are the alpha dog, and thus carry the responsibility of maintaining control of any and all situations.
Whenever socializing a puppy, attempt to let him settle any problems on his own. Should you see that his attempts are not successful, don’t hesitate to intervene. Also remember that though you may be allowed to let your dog off of his leash in certain parks, this should only be done once you’ve seen that your little guy is capable of dealing with different dogs. By ensuring that you follow the right steps your dog’s socialization process, you’ll be setting the right tone for a lifetime of happiness together.
Shannon Benshaw writes for a retirement savings plan website where you can find tips and advice on eligibility, investing, and establishing goals for your future.