Socializing your dog doesn't mean bringing Fido to a tea party with the ladies...it means being a responsible pet owner and teaching your dog to be calm and confident in any situation.
Socialization starts the moment your dog is born. More importantly, your socialization efforts start when you take ownership of your dog. Exposing your dog to many sights, sounds, and situations will teach him that the unexpected is okay. He will (hopefully) learn to get along with people, other dogs, and animals.
A calm, well-socialized dog will be welcome in a lot more situations than an untrained, hyper dog. You can bring your pup to the dog park with confidence; you can take your dog into many situations and he will behave and obey at all times.
An unsocialized dog may knock a person down in greeting; an unsocialized dog may fight with other animals; an unsocialized dog may spook and run out of the yard at an unexpected sound! A poorly socialized dog reflects badly on ALL dog owners.
Socialization goes on every moment of every day of your dog's life. Start with a basic obedience class as soon as you get your dog, but be sure to pick one with positive training methods. (You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, as the old saying goes!)
After you pass the basic obedience class, take your dog with you as much as possible. Walk out to greet the mailman every day. Stroll through the busy downtown streets at lunch time. Visit friends and family. Take car rides.
Socializing your dog may be easier than you think. Praise your dog's good behaviors, like walking calmly, sitting on command, and greeting strangers politely. Use treats or affection as a reward for the good stuff, and don't reward bad behaviors like barking, pulling on the leash, jumping up on people, or cowering in fear.
Socialization is an ongoing process. Every day brings new experiences, but the more exposure your dog has to the world, the better equipped he will be to handle surprises.
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