Dogs lead fairly uncomplicated lives compared to us humans, with far fewer opportunities to go out and experience the world. Without the ability to go out and make new memories and experience new things, dogs can become anxious, fearful, and sometimes even destructive.
Dog socialization is the process of creating a comfortable environment for your pet in the presence of other dogs, new people, and in unfamiliar environments and situations. Socialization is all about gaining experiences and helping them understand the world around them in order to live a happier, more relaxed life.
When to Socialize Your Pet
While puppies can begin socialization classes as early as 7 to 8 weeks, veterinarians recommend at least one round of vaccines and one round of de-worming one week prior to exposing them to other pets. Afterward, they need continued socialization throughout their life. As dogs age, they are more likely to display signs of aggression and fearfulness, increasing their risk of being surrendered to a shelter due to behavioral problems. Simply put, socialization is an important part of a dog’s life at any stage of development.
Make Exercise a Priority
Walking your dog regularly provides a basic foundation for physical and mental health. Like a child, your dog is curious about the world around them. If left confined at home, they can become anxious, bored, and destructive. They are dependent on you to help them explore all the sights, smells, and sounds the outside world has to offer. It’s also good to vary the locations you take your pet, allowing them every opportunity to discover and stimulate their brain.
While out walking, your dog is likely to run into other dogs. This is a great opportunity to help them learn acceptable and appropriate ways of socially interacting with new animals and humans, building their confidence to make new friends. Playing with other dogs and learning to communicate on an animal level is just as important as learning to interact with people. If your dog does display signs of fear, try taking them to a training class to help relieve their anxiety in a controlled environment. Well-socialized pets still like a bit of rough-and-tumble play with other dogs, but they will know when to stop and come away without incident. Walking your dog and exposing them to different animals, people, places, and situations is a win for everyone.
When Life Gets Too Busy
Let’s be realistic – not everyone has the flexibility to make it home to walk the dog at lunch, or even sometimes in the evening when the hours run late at the office. Often the exercise our dogs do get is limited to quick outings that are only long enough to take care of business. Fortunately, there are professional pet services and doggy daycares available to help take care of your pet when you aren’t able. These services provide not just exercise and socialization, but also ensure your pet is comfortably fed and watered while you are away, checking one less thing off your list.
Any exercise, from running or walking with your dog, to hiking on the weekends, to doggy daycare, to that quick bathroom break in the morning, gives your dog the opportunity for socialization. Through exercise and continued new discovery, you are providing the healthiest activities for their body and mind, ensuring you will have a calm, exhausted, and happy dog when you get home. If you have any questions or would like more information on socialization for your pet, call Sierra Veterinary Hospital today!