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Easy Ways to Socialize Your Dog

Published January 11, 2021
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So you brought home a new puppy…congratulations! It’s an exciting time as you begin your new adventure with this furry bundle of joy. That is, until you notice they always start to bark when a friend comes over to your place, or they’re timid around other dogs. The remedy? Some socialization skills! We’ve outlined easy ways you can socialize your dog so they can lead long, healthy lives:

Create a checklist

Before starting the socialization process, create a checklist of what you’d like your dog to experience. Similar to a bucket list, it could include a variety of people, places, objects and sounds. A checklist can give you some neat ideas on how you can incorporate them into your dog’s life. Ultimately, a checklist provides order and reminders.

socialized dogs are happy dogs
Introducing your pup to different objects, people, and places can help socialize your pup. Photo by Samia Liamani

Start early

The best way to socialize dogs is when they’re young. Make it a part of your day to introduce your puppy to new objects, walks, people, smells, and so on. By socializing them at this most critical period, they’re less likely to grow up with aggressive and fearful tendencies.

Start small

While the enthusiasm is appreciated, it doesn’t mean your dog should experience everything in the span of three days! No matter how old your dog is, let them experience the world at a relaxed pace. Take them on a new walk one day, then take them on a fun drive somewhere the next.

Try different walking routes

Walking your dog is a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Walking lets them experience new sights, sounds, smells, people and animals. If your puppy is between 8-12 weeks old, this is the perfect time to walk them often, as they’re less likely to be scared or aggressive later on. For instance, you could expose them to a new neighborhood or park.

Join meet-ups

You want your dog to be exposed to a variety of people. This could mean people wearing hats, people with beards, people with glasses, and so on. When you bring a new puppy into your home, consider how they meet others. Bring your family and friends over to let them greet, play, and hold your new pup. He or she will start to feel comfortable around different types of people.

Explore new areas

Like walking, driving your pup around town exposes them to new and different sensations. Not only will it help your dog feel comfortable getting in the car, but they can see, smell, and hear different things on car adventures. The key is to drive them to different (and fun) places — not just the vet!

dogs getting socialization
Taking your pup on positive car rides can help them become comfortable with different people, places, and items. Photo by Marieke Koenders.

Bring encouragement

An easy way to socialize your dog is with lots of love, praise, and treats. After going on a walk or meeting new people (family or friends, for instance), they can start to understand their new exposure to things translates into a positive experience.

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