Have you ever gone out to dinner with friends and come home to a roll of toilet paper unrolled across the floor? Or a piece of furniture gnawed around the legs? Do you wonder why your dog does things like that and then greets you at the door wagging his tail?
He does it because dogs are pack animals and social beings, and they really don’t like being left alone…they get bored! Companionship is vital to their well-being. If no one is there to give it to them, they do something to get your attention.
These negative behaviors are all too common among dogs in empty houses, so if you have a job and have to be away from home all day, your dog is probably a good candidate for dog day care. But even if you are home with your dog, socialization is important.
Just as people need more than only dogs for socialization, dogs need more than just people. They need to be in a safe environment where they can move around freely and play with dogs who can become familiar to them. Leaving a dog at home crated may be safe, but it’s not good for socialization. Like people, dogs need to have essential social skills, which they learn from other dogs.
Exposure to other friendly dogs on a regular basis is the best way to teach those essential social skills. Playtime with other puppies and non-aggressive adult dogs allows a dog to learn how to talk and read dog-speak by responding to the body language of other dogs. If this doesn’t happen during the pup’s critical learning period, well before the age of six months, in the words of one expert “you may end up with a canine nerd whose inept use of physical and postural language gets him into trouble. Either he sends inappropriate messages or fails to respond appropriately to another dog’s message.”
Appropriately socialized dogs do not get into fights. If they look like they’re fighting, chances are they’re just wrestling – only biting the other dog from the neck forwards (scuff and soft part of neck, muzzle, head, and ears). That’s a way for dogs to let off steam and exercise, and they won’t hurt each other.
For more information on proper canine socialization practices, contact or visit the expert staff at Dogtopia, located at 1100 Burnhamthorpe Road West in Mississauga (905-949-8091).