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How Do I Teach My Dog to Socialize With Other Dogs?

Published February 25, 2022
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Just like people, every dog is unique, and the idea of meeting other pups can cause their tail to wag furiously or tuck in reluctance. If your pup leans more towards that tail-tucking, ‘Mom why are you doing this to me?’ side of the spectrum, it doesn’t mean socializing is out of the picture. Just as people, indeed even introverts, need at least some human interaction to stay healthy, dogs are also hard-wired for connection, and it brings many health benefits. In this post we’ll dive into some ideas that might help your pup become more comfortable socializing with dogs.

Start small

Depending on your dog’s temperament and background, it can make sense to start small. You can simply take them to new places – a new walking route, a drive somewhere, or a trip.

Going to a new place could help your pup meet other dogs in different settings. This can be a casual, low-key way for them to dip their paws into socializing. Plus, they can start to feel comfortable around them in many kinds of environments.

While you’re on a walk, stay calm when another dog approaches, as your dog can read your body language and how you’re handling their leash. Ask the other person heading in your direction if their dog is safe to interact with. Stay positive, and let your dog determine how long they would like to meet with the other. These steps could help your dog associate meeting other dogs as a positive experience.

Getting your pup together with another friend’s dogs can be a great way to ease into socializing. Photo by Sofia Shultz

Coordinate a dog playdate

Got a friend with a dog or two that’s similar in temperament to yours? It could be helpful to coordinate a playdate or walk together. A small group can be less intimidating. One suggestion is to try and meet outside each other’s homes, as one of your pups may feel territorial with the other.

You could also try coordinating playdates through the app BarkHappy. BarkHappy connects you with other dog parents in the area looking to match their pup for a playdate. This can be perfect for your dog who would benefit from just meeting one or two dogs at a time.

A treat could help your dog associate a social gathering as positive. Photo by Tamara Bellis

Reward your pup

Before embarking your dog on a social outing, another idea is to reward them with a special treat before and after. This too could help your dog see socializing as a good thing. As they (hopefully) become more comfortable around other dogs, the treats can be waned, or replaced with a healthy alternative.

Joining a same-breed meetup event may help your pup feel more comfortable socializing. Photo by Sneaky Elbow

Join a same-breed meetup event

Meetup can be a great way to introduce your dog to the same breed in a larger group setting. While every dog is different, sticking to the same breed can generally mean similar temperament. When you go, gauge how your dog is feeling, and stay as long as your pup seems comfortable.

Many shy dogs open up and make friends when they attend Camp! Photo by Camp Run-A-Mutt Sorrento Valley

Go to dog daycare

Dog daycare can be a great way for dogs to meet a variety of other pups and also learn to play in a pack. At Camp Run-A-Mutt, we group dogs by temperament, not size, and our temperament tests is an opportunity for us to see if your dog may enjoy daycare. We’ve seen many initially shy dogs blossom into social butterflies at Camp!

Like all things, it can take time to help your pup socialize with other dogs. Don’t give up! It can be so worth it to see your pup enjoy making new friends.

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