The biggest benefit of having a properly socialized dog means you can take your pet anywhere without having to worry about it getting scared, or worse, barking or jumping on other dogs and humans (for no reason). While ideally, dogs should be socialized between three and twelve weeks of age, don’t worry if yours has missed the early socialization window for any reason. All is not lost!
Socializing an adult dog is challenging but not impossible. So, buckle up and use these expert tips to introduce your adult dog to the world the right way:
1. Walk Your Dog
Taking your canine friend to a dog park is one of the best ways to introduce it to strangers, both dogs and humans. However, you have to be careful as your dog might get anxious, scared, or aggressive, seeing so many people and dogs around. Start by standing a little away from the park and let your dog observe its surroundings. Walk your dog around the perimeter for a couple of days before taking it inside the park.
Your dog may give a nervous or aggressive response upon coming closer to other dogs, but don’t get discouraged or get angry with your pet. Take it slow and be consistent.
2. Introduce Your Dog to Family and Friends Slowly
There are two ways you can do this:
- Have a family member or a friend come to your dog and offer a treat along with saying something positive and encouraging in a low, calm voice. Make sure they’re not talking in a high-pitched, excited tone, and put your dog on a leash to be on the safe side.
- Invite a couple of family members or friends over and make them sit in a place where they’re easily visible to your dog, such as the living room. But, do not let them approach the dog. Let your dog approach the guests first. Don’t force your dog either; give it time to observe and get comfortable.
An important point to note here is that you should never try to introduce your unsocialized dog to too many people at once. Take it slow; introduce one or two persons at once.
3. Follow the Dog’s Lead
Instead of pushing or pulling your dog to move closer to a new thing, person, or dog, let your dog take the lead and decide if it wants to explore it or not. Your job is to introduce your canine friend to new people, pets, areas, and situations. But, let them make the final decision and follow their lead. If your dog steps away from something, don’t push it to go closer. Try it again some other time.
4. Look Out for the Signs of Stress
When socializing an adult dog, it’s highly important to look out for the signs of stress. Watch your pet’s body language. For example, if your dog growls or shows other signs of aggression, hides behind you, turns away from something, or even just turns its head away, excessively panting or yawning, or licking its lips, these are all signs of discomfort, nervousness, and stress. Don’t force your dog to do something it doesn’t feel comfortable with.
Don’t Hesitate to Take Professional Help!
Socializing an adult dog is a very challenging task. It not only tends to be a lot harder than socializing a pup but also likely to take much longer. However, you have to be patient and consistent with the socialization training to get the desired results. You might not have time to train your dog or find it too challenging. You should know that some adult dogs also exhibit behavioral issues during socialization training that you might not be able to deal with on your own. In such cases, do not hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer.