Socialization of dogs is highly valued by dog owners everywhere. When new customers come into the store and we ask them what they are interested in, we frequently hear “Well, I would like to socialize my dog more. They just don’t seem to do well around other dogs.” But what does it really mean and how do you “get socialized”? A quick search of Google yields a great definition on socialization: “The act of adapting behavior to the norms of a culture or society”. That definition may sound like one that would be applied to people, but in reality, dogs also act in many ways the same as people, and thus it very much applies.
What owners are often seeking is to have their dog be able to play and interact with other dogs, of different sizes and breeds, in a safe and fun way. They want to know that their dog can be safe around other dogs in different environments. Dogs that can achieve this level of “socialization” are typically happy and friendly dogs – which are what an owner desires for their pet.
What an Expert Says
Selene Florez is a certified trainer with Off Leash K9 Training Austin & Central TX, and is a partner with Dogtopia of North Austin. She provides a great perspective on the importance of socialization: “Socialization is so important in getting your puppy acquainted with as many different animals, people, and circumstances as possible. In my opinion, socialization is one of the most important things in young puppies’ lives. It is extremely important to get them to start interacting with other animals and people. But it is never too late to start older dogs to gain the socialization that they didn’t get as younger pups. This will allow them to build their confidence in situations they are not sure about. “
The Right Plan for your Dog
For a dog that may not have developed “those socialization” skills yet, open play offers a great way to accomplish it. If you are looking to help your young pup to develop those skills, or help an older dog find those lost skills, there are several things to keep in mind:
Find the Ideal Environment
An unleashed environment that is supervised provides a perfect setting to allow your dog to engage and learn. In any open play environment, it is critical to have the attendants, or “lifeguards”, managing the room to make certain that no horseplay is happening, and that all dogs are safe. You wouldn’t send your child to a daycare that wasn’t supervised, so why would you send your dog to an unsupervised environment?
With a supervised environment, the daycare can work with your dog and put them in the right environment to succeed. By putting your pet in a room with the right mix of dogs, the chances for helping your dog develop those skills are greatly enhanced.
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Every owner who is seeking “socialization” needs to understand that it is not an overnight process. It will take regular engagements and visits to your daycare facility to make it a success.
Recently, we had a male beagle, Archer, come visit. On Archer’s first visit, he would not even get out of the car he was so scared. His owner had to carry him in! On the second visit, the owner had to help him out of the car, but he walked the rest of the way. By the fourth visit, he could not wait to go to daycare! Archer’s owner did a great job of being patient, working with him, and now he is one of the happiest dogs visiting us.
Keep an Open Line of Communication
With those visits to daycare, make certain you are talking with the playroom attendants. They just spent many hours with your pup, so find out how they did. Who did they play with? Did they have any issues? What was their mood like today? The playroom attendants can easily answer all those questions and more – they know from being in the room.
The End Result of a Great Socialization Plan?
The end result that every owner wants is a pup that is happy, healthy, and loves to interact with other dogs. With the right team, patience, and communication, your dog can achieve those great socialization skills.
Learn more about Dogtopia’s doggy daycare services.