The Importance of Socializing Your Dog
Many dogs in our society today develop fears and anxiety from lack of socialization. Many dogs that come to us with these issues have one thing in common. They have a great home, a loving family, two square meals a day, and exercise playing in the yard or walking the neighborhood on leash. By not having many experiences beyond this routine, as they get older, changes in their routine can become frightening. This can be with new visitors, or encountering new people on walks, particularly after a move and a new neighborhood.
Trips to the vet, groomer, kennel, etc, can also create a great deal of stress. Some of these dogs were even socialized as pups, but once they hit 6-9 months old, the efforts to socialize dwindle. Having your dog around a lot of people and dogs to socialize isn't enough. They need to have positive experiences around a lot of people and dogs. If your dog is young and social, this is easy, just get him around people and friendly dogs, maybe at daycare or even dog parks, although if you try the dog park, be one of the people that watch your dog, not form a huddle with the other parents and assume everyone is playing nice!If your dog is already showing some anxiety in public, you may start by going to public places several times a week and just walking around. Your dog doesn't have to encounter strangers initially. It's enough to just see and hear all the different sights and sounds, while being praised by you and even getting treats. Get the tail wagging in new situations, and keep sessions short, maybe 10-15 minutes each time. As your pet gains confidence, you may be able to progress to having strangers offer him treats as well. Remember, new situations with the tail wagging, equals growing confidence for your pet.