Chocolate brown lab lying in dog bed

In an ideal world, puppies are socialized in their first year by being exposed to as many new experiences as possible. Dogs are most sensitive and receptive during this timeframe, so the earlier that you get your dog socialized with other pups and humans, the better.

Unfortunately, not all pups are properly socialized within this timeframe. Some say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but that’s not true! No matter the reason why your furry family member was not socialized as a puppy, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to behave around others and gain BFFFs (Best Furry Friends Forever). Here are some tips for socializing an adult dog…

Take your dog for frequent walks

Daily walks are great opportunities to expose your dog to new sights, sounds, smells, humans, and animals. It gives you a chance to practice proper behavior with your doggie since you’re likely to encounter more social situations during your walk.

If your dog barks or responds in a disruptive or undesirable manner, refrain from scolding or tugging on their leash, as it will increase their excitement and create a negative experience for them. Instead, simply walk in another direction and remove them from the situation so they can calm down.

Have people over

Invite one or two friends over and host them in a space where your dog can feel comfortable, such as your living room or backyard. Make sure your friends do not approach, crowd, or overwhelm your dog. You want your dog to make the first move and approach your guests when they are ready. If your pup does not wander over to investigate, your guests can toss a treat from time to time to show your dog they come in peace. Keep the environment positive and laidback so your dog remains relaxed and associates new people with good experiences.

Monitor your attitude

It is important to keep in mind that dogs sense your emotions, and if you seem stressed out or nervous about an experience, so your furry friend will be, too. Through body language and tone, you should remain calm and confident. Don’t play into your dog’s fearful or nervous reactions. Your dog feeds off your reactions and attitude, so be calm and collected and act as though the situation is not a big deal.

Turn to professionals

If your dog is not responding well to your methods, contact a professional trainer or consider taking them to a doggie daycare setting like Dogtopia. Our certified Canine Coaches have experience with all breeds and temperaments and can expertly read a dog’s body language and help you determine if daycare would be helpful in socializing your older dog. Find a location near you.

When socializing an older dog, the key to success is repetition and consistency. Be patient and don’t get discouraged if they don’t catch on right away, as it can take a much longer time for older dogs to adapt to new situations and environments. With each new experience, be sure to create a calm, loving environment with lots of positive reinforcement, and you will have a happy, confident, and well-balanced dog in no time.