If you're part of the 38% of American households with a dog, you might feel like you've found the perfect pet. But you'll want to make sure your favorite pooch is comfortable with strangers and new environments, too. After all, you'll be going on walks together and having guests in your home.
Training your dog to be comfortable in new situations doesn't have to be a chore. Read on to find a quick and easy dog socialization checklist!
Touching and Handling
You'll want to evaluate how your pup reacts to being touched and handled. This is especially important when your pup is in its first three months of life. Hold and snuggle your new puppy to help them gain comfort with being handled.
Additionally, try to get your dog comfortable with squeezing their paws, touching their nose, and opening their mouth. Giving dogs hugs and putting on their harnesses are other important interactions.
Other forms of handling include wiping the dog with a towel and checking their ears. When you take your dog to a veterinarian or groomer, you'll need your dog to feel at ease being handled by others. Take baby steps so your pup is relaxed.
When you take your dog for a walk, you introduce them to a new world. Go beyond this daily ritual to ensure your pup can feel confident in a variety of different situations.
Take them with you when you head to the pet store, for instance. Go to a busy park with them or visit outdoor markets and events. Be patient and avoid forcing the issue if you notice your dog acts scared, however.
Not every dog loves car rides, so you'll need to work with them to see this activity as a safe one, as well. Consider providing a familiar toy or blanket with recognizable scents the next time you load them into the car. And stop for plenty of walks and water breaks when you're taking a longer car ride.
Interactions With People
Puppy socialization also includes interacting with a variety of people. Even before enrolling in a dog training class, plan on helping your dog learn to feel safe with new people. Aside from your family and close friends, aim to socialize your dog with a range of people.
Sometimes deep or high voices can make a dog feel unsafe. Introduce your dog to acquaintances whose voices span a wide range. And introduce your dog to people across a range of ages and sizes.
You want your dog to feel comfortable with children and older adults, too. In addition, your dog should meet people in different types of clothing, such as uniforms. An intentional approach to dog socialization with a variety of people can help your dog feel calm in any social situation.
Interactions With Dogs and Other Animals
When a puppy sees another animal, its instinct is to chase it. As an owner, you have the capacity-and responsibility-to help your dog exercise restraint. That's why gradual introductions to other animals are another critical part of dog socialization.
Use a measured approach when introducing a dog to other dogs or cats. You may need to keep interactions quick and be ready to intervene. Ultimately, though, you'll want your dog to meet young and senior animals to build comfort.
Keep in mind that not all socialization efforts go smoothly with other animals. Be patient and know that you will need to provide supervision in some cases.
Objects With Wheels
Bikes and strollers may not seem unusual to humans. But for dogs, wheels can be a source of anxiety. Make a point of socializing your puppy with anything that has wheels.
Start with the most obvious sources of wheels, like cars and trucks. Don't overlook wheelchairs, shopping carts, and skateboards, too. Even rolling suitcases and kids' toys might need a special introduction.
Use a comforting voice if your dog meets a wheeled object it doesn't trust. And provide affirmation when your dog handles the situation well.
Common and Unexpected Sounds
Dogs can feel startled when they hear a doorbell or police siren. Because of this, you'll need to devote time to helping your pup feel secure when exposed to new noises.
Crying babies, vacuums, and security alarms can trigger a reactive dog. Even noises coming from your television or construction projects outside can be problematic.
As one strategy, consider playing recorded noises for your dog. You'll be able to control the duration of the noise and its volume. This can be a more gradual way to make these noises start to seem commonplace.
Make sure your dog has a crate or house that they are comfortable using. This can act as a secure space when your dog hears fireworks or other unsettling noises. They'll always know they have a place to take refuge.
Different Types of Surfaces
You might not think about changes in surfaces when you walk across them in shoes. But for dogs, moving from pavement to gravel, for instance, can be a big adjustment. That's why surfaces need to be on any dog socialization checklist.
If your home consists only of hardwood floors, you'll want your dog to experience concrete and tile. Similarly, a dog that only knows carpet should be taken to laminate, brick, and other flooring surfaces.
In the same vein, make sure your dog gains traction on different outdoor surfaces. Uneven grassy areas, muddy spaces, and snow can all seem unnerving for a dog. Let your dog walk on unique surfaces whenever you can so they are more confident in new environments.
Follow This Dog Socialization Checklist
A dog socialization checklist is a handy way to make sure man's best friend is everyone's friend. Be intentional about taking your dog to new places and meeting new people. And expose your dog to different sounds, surfaces, and animals so they can learn to stay calm in new situations.
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