Dogs by nature are pack animals. In the wild they live in packs where they quickly become socialized, learning from the verbal cues and body language of other dogs. For domestic puppies, socialization begins almost at birth by interacting with littermates, and continues when the puppies are adopted into human families.
But what if you are adopting an older dog that was never properly socialized? While it is significantly more difficult to socialize an adult dog, there are things you can do to help your pet fit more comfortably into his environment.
The first step is to socialize the dog with your family. Be patient with the dog, increasing his exposure to other family members a little at a time. Once the dog has become accustomed to his “human pack” you can gradually introduce him to other new people. When meeting for the first time, have the person offer the dog a treat. It also helps to speak in a low, encouraging voice. Don’t force the dog to approach the person. He’ll eventually succumb to the irresistible combination of a tasty treat and words of praise.
Once he’s been socialized at home, it’s time to introduce him to other dogs. When walking your dog, vary the routes so he can be exposed to different sights and sounds. And choose a path where you’re likely to encounter a variety of people and dogs. Even if your dog becomes agitated or uncomfortable, avoid jerking your pet’s leash or yelling at him because that will only reinforce that engaging other dogs is a negative experience.
You can also try taking your pet to a dog park — but don’t go in. Instead, stand on the other side of the fence and let your dog watch the behavior of other canines.
Folsom Dog Resort understands the importance of play and socialization in a dog’s life. If a dog is social he can play with other dogs similar in size and age, using our ¼-acre of outdoor play yard space. If the dog doesn’t get along well with his peers, he’ll still get plenty of exercise at the resort but he’ll be playing with members of the staff rather than other dogs.
Occasionally, adult dogs will not respond to standard socialization techniques. In those cases, obedience training may be the best solution. The Folsom Dog Resort, featuring Jason Davis, The Dog Guy®, offers several training packages that can be customized for your specific needs.
Give us a call at (916) 365-9631 for more information or to to schedule a FREE training evaluation. Or visit our web site, www.folsomdogresort.com.