It can be hard for some to leave the house after being cooped up for so long. Perhaps your dog has become acclimated to their new isolation routine, or maybe they never learnt to socialise, to begin with. Either way, as lockdowns ease and dog parks are set to reopen, now is the perfect time to teach your dog to socialise correctly, avoiding those awkward exchanges or fights with other canines (and their owners!)
It’s great that your dog is protective of your home, but out in public, it’s a different story. Your dog needs to know how to react calmly and behave in a friendly manner towards other humans and their pets. Doing so will improve your quality of life as you soon realise you don’t need to stress out anymore every time your dog comes close to another living being. Your pup will also learn to let their guard down and live a calmer, anxiety-free life. Let’s take a look at the top strategies you can start using today to socialise your pooch.
Walk your dog daily
Your dog can’t practice socialising if they are stuck indoors all day. Dog walks are an excellent opportunity for your friendly pup to see and meet other dogs and their owners, in addition to training their best behaviour when they’re out and about. Walks, and exercise in general, are a great precursor to socialisation as your dog will have a chance to expel their energy, making them generally calmer and better behaved.
“Avoid pulling back on their leash or yelling to prevent your pet associating stress with other dogs”
A handy tip to practice is not pulling back on their leash or raising your voice at them if they exhibit imperfect behaviour, unless necessary. The reason behind this is that we want to avoid any increase in your dog’s excitement level or turn any interactions they have into negative experiences. The last thing you want is for your dog to associate stress and cynical feelings with other dogs.
Slowly introduce other dogs or parks
While walks can be introduced as frequently as possible, exposure to different social interactions should be a gradual process. As a general rule, present your dog to one new activity a week, any more can become overwhelming and make it difficult for them to remain calm and under control.
A great way to do this is by letting your keen pup observe these activities before allowing them to interact themselves. If you plan on taking your dog to a dog park once they’re adequately socialised, show them that the experience should be a fun one. Take them to the park but don’t let them in, watch the other pets and their owners have fun. When they’re used to the experience, you can slowly let them take part themselves.
Use a muzzle as an initial tool
Devices like muzzles should not be used forever, but they are a handy tool in the short term to ease your dog into interactions. If you know that your on-guard pooch is likely to growl, bark or attack other dogs, it may be a good idea to try using a muzzle. It’s a great tool to prevent biting or aggression from your dog physically. Also, it makes your dog calmer and less on-edge when it comes to meeting other pups, leading to a more positive experience overall.
Visit as many different places as you can
Mix up the variety! There are lots of places for your dog to socialise, so make sure to visit them all. Great areas to meet other pets and people are parks, busy streets, shopping malls that allow dogs and public transport. All these different situations will teach your pet to become accustomed and remain calm across all the scenarios they’re likely to encounter, including new and unfamiliar ones.
Play sounds at home to get your dog used to them
Does your playful pooch lose the plot when they hear thunder or fireworks? As irritating as this might be, you need to remember that your dog has no understanding of what these loud and shocking sounds are and how they offer no threat to them.
“Play noises softly at home throughout the day - your intelligent dog will learn that there’s nothing to worry about”
Part of active socialising is acclimating your dog to common noises that occur in everyday life. A useful tactic to address this concern is to play these sounds (on a speaker) softly at home throughout the day, gradually increasing the volume over time. Over time, your intelligent dog will learn that there’s nothing to worry about!
Use a dog training collar
Less restrictive than a muzzle, electronic dog training collars are a very effective and safe option to improve your dog’s behaviour, both at home and out and about. Dog training collars use mild stimuli, such as a high-pitched sound, vibration or mild-static to discourage unwanted barking and reinforce good behaviour.
You can switch your dog’s training collar on when you head out for a walk or socialisation session. Over time, your dog will learn what you expect from them and the behaviour you find acceptable as their owner. The greater understanding you have of one another increases the chances of a happy and well-behaved pup.
A quality, well-calibrated dog training collar is an excellent & safe tool that can ensure socialising your loved pets again is a stress-free experience. Dog Gear offers trusted electronic dog training collars, utilising warning tones to distract your barking pup safely. With free Australian shipping and same-day dispatch, our products will be with you fast. Follow us on Facebook for the latest advice, updates and dog training tips!