In the United States, there are nearly 50 million households that have a dog. It’s estimated that most of those households have one or two dogs, with one being the norm. If you’re a one-dog household, it’s a very cost-effective option as bills can be kept down to a minimum. You’ll only need to buy food, toys and have vet bills for one dog. However, you are missing out on an essential aspect, socializing your dog.
Socializing for dogs means about the same as it does for us humans. For dogs, socialization means that they learn how to be around other dogs and people. They need to build relationships and interact with their environment. Dogs also have to deal with people, noises, sights, smells, and the animals in that environment.
WHY IS SOCIALIZING YOUR DOG IMPORTANT?
Socialization for dogs is important for many reasons. As dogs become socialized, they are able to process and confront new experiences with curiosity and confidence. The short answer to this question, however, is that it makes life easier for your dog and yourself.
By properly socializing your dog, he or she will learn that new situations are good. Going to the vet’s office will seem exciting to your dog as a chance to explore and meet other dogs. Trips to the vets will be less stressful because you won’t have to worry about how your dog will react.
Not only will the experience at the vet be less stressful for you and your pup, but also for the veterinarian. In addition, if other people are handling your dogs, such as groomers or trainers, their jobs will be much easier, and the experience will be much more pleasant for your pup, too, if they have been socialized.
A socialized dog gives you the owner more options as you travel. If you choose to take your dog, they will be less fearful of situations, but you’ll also be able to use boarding and pet sitters if you need to. You’ll be able to leave your dog and know he or she will be fine with other pets and humans.
Proper socialization for dogs means that they will get all of the benefits of exercise, as they have fewer issues with whatever they encounter. These dogs are physically and mentally healthier, happier, and calmer. They are more outgoing and enjoy meeting new people and meet well new experiences with enthusiasm.
Even if your dog is at home, they’ll have better relationships and reactions to people who approach the house. A dog that is socialized, will be less inclined to bark at the mailman, run the fence, or yap at the neighbors and their pets.
Your dog’s calm temperament will be especially appreciated by those in your neighborhood.
IS IT TOO LATE TO SOCIALIZE MY DOG?
It is best to start socializing your dog as a puppy, although hope is not lost if you are socializing an older dog! However, you should keep in mind that with older dogs, the process of socialization may take a longer time and have more hiccups than you would have with a puppy.
The way that puppies react to new situations is much different than how an adult dog would act. Puppies tend to be more playful and will jump into new experiences. Older dogs may not want to be involved in social situations. They might growl or snap if other dogs or people invade their personal space.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T SOCIALIZE YOUR DOG?
Dogs and puppies that are not adequately socialized, don’t get the experience of being around other people or dogs. So, instead of responding to these new situations with confidence, they will approach them with fear. Fear is a powerful response in dogs, and their fear can present itself in damaging ways.
Dogs that run and hide from fearful situations can be in danger if not contained in a secure yard. If your dog gets spooked by a noise, there’s a risk your dog could panic and bolt out into traffic.
A dog that doesn’t respond by running may respond with aggression.
When a dog feels unsure, they can bite, growl or bark to defend themselves. If they meet a new person, or perhaps a child who doesn’t know any better, they might cause some damage.
This flight or fight response from your dog could even affect your dog’s hormones. Repeated exposure to stressful situations will create a surplus of corticosteroids. That decreases blood flow to organs such as the intestines and kidneys. These corticosteroids will eventually start breaking down your dog’s muscles and suppress the immune system. This in turn causes your dog’s overall health to decline.
In addition, dogs that are not properly socialized will not get the necessary amounts of exercise. Usually, dogs that become fearful or aggressive are nearly impossible to take on walks. They may not be willing to move, so you won’t get anywhere.
If your dog is aggressive than fearful, there’s a risk of attack on another dog, or worse, an innocent person. For people with larger stronger dogs, the dog might be able to overpower them and break free. This escalating situation makes it hard to catch the dog, let alone stop a fight or even correct bad behavior.
Owners of aggressive dogs can be fearful of taking them out for exercise. A Lack of exercise is bad for a dog. It will cause their mental health to decrease as well as their physical health. Aggressive dogs that lack exercise are prime candidates to suffer from health conditions associated with obesity.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SOCIALIZE YOUR DOG?
The best way to start socializing your dog is by starting when they are a puppy. It’s generally recommended that early and often socialization is key for pups. You can start taking them on adventures and having them meet new people and animals as early as 3 weeks.
Puppies can handle more experiences quickly and should be exposed to new people and experiences often. Going for walks, visiting the groomers, and riding in the car is fantastic for expanding your puppy’s mental horizons. Attending organized puppy socialization classes can make sure your furry friend has regular contact with new people and puppy pals.
From 3 weeks to 12 weeks, puppies are more willing to learn and experience new things. After 18 weeks, they will become more reluctant and may even refuse to do things that scare them.
If your dog is older, the process will take longer as you’ll have to try a new experience less often.
This might be meeting another human or going for a walk in a new area. You’ll need to explore their boundaries and push them only if they are ready.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SOCIALIZING YOUR DOG
The important thing to remember when you start to socialize your dog, no matter their age, is they’ll need time. They’ll need to start slow, and you’ll need to pay attention to their personality, too. Playful and outgoing dogs are able to have more new experiences more quickly than a dog that is skittish or shy.
Socializing your pup is a very important process for their mental and physical health. It helps them to develop relationships with other dogs, as well as people. More importantly, by socializing your dog, you can avoid a life of anxiety for your furry best friend.