The significance of socializing your dogs is recognized as very important by the veterinarians in Markham. Twenty years ago, you never heard anyone talk about it; now it’s everywhere. Seems easy enough; bring your dog to some new places, let him meet new people, and he will be a happy, well-adjusted dog. Unfortunately, socialization is not that easy. In order to do it properly, there are two basic principles that you need to understand.
Socialization is the process of introducing your dog to new situations and environments, in order for him to be more comfortable in strange situations in the future.
1) Exposing your dog to new things is not socialization.
The simple act of bringing your dog to the dog park or introducing him to another animal is not socialization. Dogs need to have positive associations with these new objects, or they can become overwhelmed, and develop fear of these things that can last throughout their lifetime.
How do I socialize my dog?
- Create space
- Do not force your dog to move closer to a new object. First let him show that he is comfortable.
- Use treats
- Use something that your dog loves; bite size cheese, turkey hot dogs slices, chicken or liver treats work best. If your dog suddenly will not eat the treats, you can assume it is because he is nervous or uncomfortable. Use this fact to your advantage.
- Go slowly
- Take as long as your dog needs to progress to the next level. Think of it like a child learning to swim. You can’t just push a child into the deep end and hope he figures it out; you need to teach him the basics first.
- Your veterinarian in Markham can recommend more specific tips for socialization at your dog’s next appointment.
Keep these things in mind during your socialization sessions:
- Socialization of puppies is vital
- Pups less than 4 months old are very impressionable, so this is the perfect time to introduce them to as many people and situations as possible. If they have a negative experience during this time, it can set them up for lifelong fear and anxiety issues.
- Watch for signs of discomfort
- If your dog is clawing at you, whining, pacing, drooling, pulling, hiding or shaking, he is not having a good experience, and you should change what you are doing.
2) Socialization is not behavior modification
If you notice that your dog is having trouble with a particular situation or group of people, this is beyond the realm of simple socialization. If he seems to have issues with men in hats, other dogs, or walking on a leash, he may need professional help. Your veterinary clinic in Markham can recommend a local trainer that can help.
Here are some signals that you may need assistance from a professional trainer or behaviorist:
- Scared puppies
- If your pup is younger than 4 weeks and is showing extreme signs of fear in certain situations, you should definitely consult a professional. It is important to address this issue now, before it becomes imprinted on his psyche.
- Adult dogs with fear
These dogs need serious help, and you will probably not be able to deal with this on your own. A professional can help develop a behavior modification plan that will get your dog back on track. Early socialization can help your pup grow up into a healthy, happy dog. It is not simple, but following these tips should help set you up for success. If you have any questions about the process, please consult your veterinarian in Markham as soon as possible.
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Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham
Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.
Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).
Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.