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Tips for socializing an older dog

 by james on 22 Oct 2021 |
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Socialization occurs in puppies at an early age, but there are plenty of practices to help an older dog learn proper social etiquette.
 
Tips for socializing an older dog


Socialization is an important part of young dogs’ lives. During this time, they learn how to behave an a way that is accepted by their peers and human companions, leading to smoother social interactions throughout adulthood. If you are considering adopting an adult dog or missed this window in your pet’s early life, however, do not worry. There are plenty of ways to help your adult dog develop the social skills needed in his daily interactions with people and other pets.
 
Ideally, socialization occurs in puppies between three and 12 weeks of age, when they are at their most receptive formative stages. After about 16 weeks, learning new ways of socializing become much more difficult, but there are many ways to help an older dog learn the tricks behind behaving in a socially acceptable way. One of the best approaches is to simply walk your dog daily. This provides the perfect opportunity for your companion to meet and great other people and pet in a controlled setting, where you can help him learn the ropes of proper canine etiquette. Introduce your pet to other dogs slowly to help make this process smooth. If your dog barks and jumps, do not yell or tug at his leash, but instead maintain a calm and confident demeanor while distracting your pet with a command or touch to keep his social experiences positive. Calmly walk away from tense situations and, over time, your dog should learn how to interact with other people and animals in a socially acceptable way. Walking also helps burn excess energy, helping your pet stay calm throughout the rest of his day.
 
Training can be another great opportunity to socialize your adult dog. Research group classes, where you will have the opportunity to expose your companion to other dogs and people in a controlled setting. You can also arrange for your dog to meet a friend or friend’s canine companion to help Fido ease into new social behavior. If your dog is particularly cautious around unfamiliar people and pets, start by having your friend walk across the street from your pet, slowly decreasing distance over time. Any time your dog remains calms and listens to your commands, reward him with plenty of treats and praise. Do not push too far during any one training session, however, as this can overwhelm both you and your pet, leading to a negative experience and backtracking progress. Over time, these interactions will help your pet master the calm behavior desired during introductions to new people and pets.

As with any new activity, always put safety first when socializing your pet. Keep him on a leash until you are certain he will stay calm and follow your commands in a given setting.
When meeting a new dog, always ensure the other animal is friendly before initiating a greeting. Watch for signs of stress in your pet when he is in new social situations, such as excessive panting and “smiling,” yawning, and tucking his trail between his legs. If you notice this stress signals, back off and start training fresh again another day to ensure socialization stays positive for you and your pet. If your dog is experiencing more severe behavioral obstacles as you practice socialization, consider working with a behavior specialist to help him adjust, improving his quality of life and opportunities for you to both interact with other people and pets.

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