The Importance of Dog Socialization

Dogs in general tend to be social pack animals that normally enjoy being around other dogs and people. There are, however, certain canines that prefer to fly solo and aren’t afraid to stand their ground when there are other dogs around. My sister’s dog is one of “those” dogs. Anytime she takes her four legged child on a walk and they run into other animals, no matter how submissive that unfamiliar pup may be, they are in for gnashing of teeth and whining that could break glass.

Why We Started Socializing Early

This annoying aggression may be a character trait in some dogs, but most of the time it is the owners fault for not socializing their dog properly and frequently. Raising your pets to accept other animals and strangers is vital if you are planning to have children, visitors or may adopt other animals in the future. My husband and I witnessed this aggression first hand from my sister’s dog and decided to socialize our mutts from a very young age. This has been a huge help since we also have cats and now have a four month old son. Our dogs are so used to other animals, people and children that they are excited about making new friends and convey a “the more, the merrier” attitude.

Ways to Socialize Your Dogs

The best way to socialize any dog is to start when they are very young. Take walks with your friends and their dogs or join a dog park! This was one of the most helpful things we ever did. Dogs of every personality, shape and size all running and playing together. Yes, there will be fights (take a spray bottle with you to break them up by the way) but dogs usually learn how to handle these situations on their own. Not to mention, that is how dogs assign the pack order when they are around other mutts. Doggy Day Care was another super way for our dogs to spend time with other canines in a controlled environment. Taking our little guys to pet friendly restaurants and stores like PetSmart helped them get used to kids and strangers petting them while meeting other animals on neutral territory.

Breaking Bad Habits

If you have an aggressive dog, it’s not too late to teach a stubborn dog new tricks. Of course, it will take quite a bit of work and consistency, but it can be done. I suggest trying what I helped my sister do with her dog. Since my dogs were socialized, we would walk them together. We started with letting the dogs sniff each other under a fence. Once they calmed down and got bored, we would walk them together…sort of. At first, we stayed ten to twenty feet apart with the socialized dog in front. The more familiar they became with each other, the closer we would walk them together until we could eventually walk them side by side. After going on walks with several different dogs, my sister’s dog is more at ease with other pups she encounters. This took a few months and I highly recommend that you take your time when trying to help someone socialize an aggressive animal but with a little patience and consistency, most any dog can become a social butterfly.

Heather Green is a Christian mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing schools.

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