Dogs must be socialized to make sure they get along well with people and other animals. Dogs are like people in some respects, in that they get nervous, frightened and anxious in certain situations. Unfortunately, humans can't control every situation or circumstance, so you must teach your dog the appropriate way to respond in a given situation, as well as the correct way to react to other people, animals and unfamiliar settings.
Exposing your dog to various scenarios and people helps socialize it. Take your dog to obedience class, on walks, for rides in the car, to a dog park or wherever it will be exposed to people and other dogs. This helps the dog develop confidence, which serves the dog well if it is in a situation that it finds disconcerting.
Train the dog to respond property to stimuli. Even if you have adopted an older dog, you can still train it. The primary age for socializing your dog is between three and 12 weeks. However, you can undertake socialization training with an older dog. During the socialization process, expose the dog to other animals and to people.
Continue the socialization process throughout the dog's life. Sometimes a dog seems to be well socialized when young, but something will trigger an aggressive reaction in certain situations. Dogs often become aggressive or fearful between the ages of eight months and two years. Dogs may experience juvenile onset shyness, according to animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell, author of "The Other End of the Leash." During this period, the dog can become cautious, timid or aggressive toward other animals and humans with which it is not familiar. Keep working with your dog through this period. For example, have your guests toss a treat to the dog when they enter your home.
Avoid situations that frighten the puppy and can make it phobic. Do not force the dog to interact with other people or dogs. Proceed slowly and gently. Your dog will eventually get the idea. If you are where a lot of activity is going on, such as a shopping center, carry your puppy so it isn't frightened by all the stimuli.
Encourage your puppy to explore. Give it boxes and bags to play with. Let it know that it's okay to investigate the environment in which it is living. Train your puppy to become accustomed to unfamiliar things it isn't used to seeing. For example, turn a chair upside down, suggests Perfectpaws.com, and let the pup sniff around the chair. The dog will learn that sometimes things look differently. Expose your puppy to various sounds and assure it that it's okay, since new sounds can frighten puppies.
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