Have you come to this article because you're worried about missing the socialization period for your dog?
Perhaps if so, your dog might be a few years old, and you're probably panicking, thinking it's too late!
While you may have missed the window, there's nothing like hard work, determination, enthusiasm, and patience won't fix when it comes to socializing an older dog.
Don't beat yourself up about it; there's plenty of scenarios where other dog owners have been unable to socialize their dog while they were a puppy due to an illness or other warranted circumstance.
Today we're going to give you tips on upgrading your adult dog's life and give you a step-by-step guide on how to socialize a dog.
Top tips for dog socialization
Daily Walks are a MUST
As you know by now, that dog walks are essential and often needed up to twice a day to exercise your furry friend. In addition to exercise, they also serve as an excellent opportunity to familiarise themselves with new sounds, sights, vehicles, and passersby. The more you do this, the more desensitized your dog will get.
Do anticipate your dog pulling on the leash or barking at anything it comes in its way; this is normal. When this happens, try not to pull away or scold your dog as it could become more excited and cause a bad experience. In this situation, it's best to walk away, and your dog will follow you.
Dogs are intelligent animals and can easily detect when somethings up or when you're distressed about a situation. Similarly, it's easy for them to mirror your body language and try to feel or convey the same emotions.
Therefore when you're out and about, hold your head up, act confident and calm, allowing your dog to do the same and feel safe being around others.
Moreover, if your dog becomes frightened, you shouldn't draw attention to its behavior; simply ignore it and stay calm. This will also show your dog there's nothing to be afraid of.
Build up to taking your dog to a park
One of the significant milestones for socializing any dog is by taking them to a park full of dogs. But you don't want to jump straight into the deep end and put your dog in the center of it all when it's not familiarised with others.
First, you should visit the park with your dog but only walk around the outside perimeter. This will allow your dog to watch other dogs and people safely from a distance slowly.
Then slowly start to build up after a few more walks and take your dog up to the park's fence. Let your dog sniff the fence and become acquainted with the park and interact with other dogs. If your dog reacts well to other dogs, give them a treat to positively reinforce the behavior.
If your dog displays signs of aggression or fear, take it away from the fence and slowly begin approaching the fence again. Once your dog visits the fence and shows no fear, begin to take it into the park for regular walks.
You want to socialize your dog with other animals and humans, right? Well, do remember, just like us humans, we don't always like EVERYONE. The same goes for your dog too. It may just be prone not to like certain humans, specific sounds or animals, which is perfectly fine.
You can't just expect your dog to love everything. Therefore you will want to take a relaxed approach and try for progress but don't expect your dog to be a social butterfly. As long as they're comfortable around a good majority of environments, humans, and animals, that's fine.
Get a muzzle
A muzzle can be such a controversial accessory for the dog world. Many dog owners may become upset about the thought of covering their dog's mouth.
If your dog is a large breed with particular sharp teeth that also gets scared easily, it may be beneficial for it to be a muzzle in certain situations. The last thing you want to happen is for your dog to bite someone or another animal.
Seek help from a professional
There's nothing wrong with getting help from a professional when it comes to socializing an older dog. You will be able to browse the internet at your fingertips for professional trainers in your area that can help socialize your dog. If you can't find it online, you can ask your vet too.
After all, professionals have been trained in dealing with different dogs and breeds. Therefore they can help and slowly socialize your dog, allowing you to focus on other things.
Don't do it alone
As mentioned in the last point, getting help from a professional socializing your older dog has many benefits. In addition to experts, if there are others in your household like family members, friends, or partners, get them to help you with the socializing training.
Remember, this does not happen overnight and can be time consuming. But if you even out the responsibility, soon enough, your work will turn into success.
Allow people to come over
Socialization is no easy process, and it's something you will want to introduce to your dog gradually. To allow your dog to become familiar with others, it's best if you bring your friends or family over to your home.
We say this because you're in a controlled environment, and it can allow your dog to feel comfortable. When doing this, you should let your dog make the first move towards your guests and let them approach it when ready.
If your dog does not make a move to investigate further, give your guest a treat to throw to your dog to show that they don't mean any harm.
It's never too late to socialize an older dog. But do note, your dog isn't going to become socialized overnight. You have to keep repeating the tips we've suggested and become consistent in your training.
Remember to be positive and calm, as your dog can pick up on your mood and mirror your body language. You don't want to induce a sense of fear and disrupt its progress. Remember, there may be some setbacks, but your dog will become familiar with new surroundings if you regularly do it.
Do note that it's also ok for your dog not to love everyone, animal or noise, just like how you probably dislike certain things too.
Alex Wrigley is a professional writer and blogger who loves travel, technology and dogs. She is originally from the UK but currently lives in Nepal with her three dogs: two pugs and a golden retriever.