Regardless of your dog's age, socialisation helps them navigate the world without fear and bad behaviour. It is always best to start at an early age, though you can still socialise adult dogs too!
Socialisation teaches your dog how to interact with different situations as much as other dogs and people. Your dog learns that these things aren’t frightening or threatening. When your dog is socialised, they react to the world with more ease and confidence.
Here are the benefits of socialising your dog!
Prevents your dog from aggressively reacting to new things
Unsocialised dogs often have anxiety when faced with new events and situations, such as meeting new people or travelling. And when they’re anxious, they start to show aggressive behaviours.
They act aggressively because they think there’s a threat, or they want to reduce their fear. They attack out of instinct to defend themselves, should the other dog attack first. Also, it drives the other dog away, easing the tension the other dog's intrusive presence had caused.
Steven Appelbaum, President of the Animal Behavior College, says that when a dog encounters something they are afraid of, they will retaliate by trying to get away from the cause of their fear, which is impossible when a dog is on leash. As an effort to escape, they yank at the leash and opposition reflex happen– the leash stops them from getting away, and this increases the anxiety they feel and they become more aggressive.
Aside from using positive reinforcement during training sessions, socialising your dog also helps avoid behavioural issues. When they are familiar with different places, situations, people, and dogs, they are more likely to stay calm during new encounters and they wouldn’t feel that every new thing is a threat.
Boosts your dog’s confidence
One reason why dogs catch behaviour issues is because they have never consistently had great interactions with other dogs, so they don't see opportunities for play and enjoyment. They perceive potential attackers who might harm them.
If your dog is socialised and has consistently experienced positive experiences with other dogs and people, they’ll be able to approach new things confidently and see life as fun and full of possibilities– not threats. They realise that other dogs are not trying to attack them. That strangers are not a threat. Those loud noises cannot hurt them.
And your dog will only learn about this when you expose them to new things. When every new interaction leads to positive reinforcement and experiences, their confidence grows. These new interactions can be simple like a neighbour walking by the house, crinkling of a water bottle, or turning on a lawnmower.
Life is much more joyful when your dog is confident because they are able to navigate the world fearlessly.
Improves your dog’s physical and mental health
Dogs experience depression too, and lack of proper socialisation can be a factor. Learning how to make friends and socialising with other animals and humans improve your dog’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Going outdoors and enjoying nature is fun for them too!
Socialising helps them see and appreciate life more. The physical and mental stimulation makes them a well-rounded pup. The saying "a tired pup is a good pup" cannot be more true.
Dogs who interact, play, and exercise with other dogs and people enjoy happy, healthy lives.
Helps your dog stay calm at the vet
Whether you think your dog is perfectly socialised or not, it’s known that not many dogs enjoy going to the groomer or the vet. These activities include a lot of hands-on work, and many dogs may see new hands as a danger.
Yet, the better socialised your dog is, the less anxious they will be before those important appointments.
At the groomer or veterinarian, it's important that your dog remains relatively calm. If you know your dog is properly socialised, then not only will you feel assured that your dog is not stressed, you're also assured that the vet and groomer can do their job without encountering problems with your dog. In return, your dog not only looks good, they also feel good!
Gives your dog more freedom
If your dog is unsocialised, that significantly restricts your options for where to go and what activities to do with them.
Dog parks scare them, and doggie daycare can overwhelm them. Visits to and from friends and family can cause trouble too. Even taking your dog for a walk may need preparation in order to avoid interactions with other people and pets.
But if your dog is socialised, they can go almost anywhere! If your dog was exposed to a variety of situations when they were puppies, they now understand that just because something is new, it doesn't necessarily mean it's scary.
You can now plan walks in the parks, holiday getaways, and other outdoor activities with your dog!
- They’re less likely to run away - You might worry that bringing your dog outside can cause harm to them, like when they’re off leash and quickly run away. That’s every pet owner’s nightmare! If your dog is fidgety and scared of new people and places, they’ll more likely run away at the very first opportunity. But if your dog is properly socialised, and can adjust well with new surroundings, they’re less likely to run away because they’ve already gotten used to staying.
Both you and your dog are happier!
Maintaining your dog's socialisation abilities will help them avoid uncomfortable moments and public phobias. Going out and travelling with them is easier. If your dog is socialised, living life with them is easier and more enjoyable. In return, you are happier and more confident that your dog will live a good life.
Dogs benefit when their parents are happy. Given that they have stronger senses than humans, your dog can be very attentive to every emotion they notice on you. So when you’re happy when you see them socialising with others, they’re happy that made you happy too!
- Gives you peace of mind - Sociable and confident dogs make for happy, relaxed dog owners. You don’t have to worry about them panicking when walking in the park because they see other dogs and people. You’re assured that vet appointments are stress-free for both your dog and your vet. You will have less to no worries as you are confident that your dog is properly socialised, and that they can take on new things and act calmly.