Dog socialization

Dogs in the wild grow up in packs and they are socialized almost from birth. Domestic dogs also begin socialization in their litter. And when they come into your home, socialization with humans begin. The initial socialization period for a dog is 4 to 12 weeks. It is during this time that social skills are imprinted on them and their interaction with other dogs and humans is, hopefully, positive. Socialization should continue throughout their lives.

From the moment your dog has received all necessary vaccinations it’s a good idea to get them out mixing with other puppies, dog’s and people as soon as possible. Take a trip to your local park; make sure you keep your dog on lead until fully trained for recall etc... Also make your first few trips more of an observation exercise. Take time to look around at all the other dog’s, it’s not hard to see which ones are friendly and therefore safe for your dog to play with. Make sure you go to the park at the same time roughly each day. That way you will hopefully see the same people with their dogs each time. Once you know which dog(s) is friendly, start to let your dog mingle with them freely. Still keep your dog on lead until trained. Once your dog gets good at recall, let them off lead. You’ll have a lot of fun watching your bundle of fur playing with other dogs, plus your dog will sleep well once they return home.

Go to obedience classes

This is a great way to help socialize your dog, both with other dogs and humans. It will also get your dog trained quickly for their first experience in the park or walking down a country track off lead.

Resist tugging the lead while walking your dog

When out walking and another dog comes into view, resist jerking or pulling back on the lead. This reinforces seeing other dogs as a negative experience and will also put your dog on edge.

Group walks

Walking your dog regularly with other dogs is a great way to achieve and maintain excellent dog socialization skills. It's not only more fun for your dog, it's also more fun for you. It offers you the chance to catch up with friends, and also make some new ones along the way.

One final note

If your dog during any of these activities miss-behaves, be sure to correct that behavior. Do not however go overboard, as this will reinforce the idea that meeting other dogs and people is actually a bad experience. Your dog may then start to react badly when meeting other dogs and people, which is something you do not want to happen. If your dog constantly miss-behaves, let’s say 3 times in succession, then put him/her on lead. At this point, no more play. Either take your dog home or make them lie down by your feet and just watch the other dogs play. This will reinforce that bad behavior means end of game. They will soon learn to behave correctly. Of course if your dog is playing to rough, starts a fight, or just nips another dog, then no second chance. Put him/her on lead straight away, tell them off, and end of game.