5 Steps to Socialize an Older Dog
28 January, 2014

For those dog owners who decide to adopt an older dog (first of all, good for you!), it’s hard to know at the start how socialized your doggy is.  You can usually tell by the way your pup greets you and reacts.  Does your dog seem a little skittish or conversely runs up to you and is friendly?  Or maybe your dog gets nervous on walks or when he is around new people.  If you see any of these nervous signs, it’s likely he was not socialized well in his early days. However, not to worry, there are several things you can do to socialize your adult dog with other dogs and other people.

1. Enroll your dog in a dog obedience class

Dog obedience class is a great way to help socialize an adult dog before trying to take your dog to a dog park or setting up playdates. Because your dog is learning or relearning commands, your pup is distracted most of the time.  If your dog is shy, make sure the dog trainer can help you introduce your dog slowly to other dogs in the class. This is also a safe place for your dog to learn to interact with other humans and dogs in a safe controlled environment.


2. Go to a dog park and let your dog watch from the outside

Take your pup to a dog park but don’t go in and just allow your pup to watch the other dogs play.  If any of the other dogs approach your pup, give your dog a treat and pet him.  This will help create a positive association with interacting with other dogs.  However, if your dog reacts aggressively towards the dogs in the park, move further away and slowly move up until he is quiet.   And, come back a few days later and try again.  Dogs will usually adjust and learn.

3. Socializing an Adult Dog with Humans

When you bring your dog home, your first lesson will be to try to socialize your dog with your family. This should be done slowly and with as little fanfare as possible.  Make the introduction casual.  Dogs and humans are on different time schedules and let your pup feel comfortable in other’s presence.  Reward him or her with treats and affection when your dog gets along with your family members.

If your dog runs or hides from you or your family members, don’t go after him and pull him from under the bed. Ignore your dog and do something that will persuade your pup to come out from hiding such as playing with his toys or leaving some treats just outside the bed or couch.  Dogs are curious and social creatures and they’ll eventually become bored and lonely by themselves. Reward your dog with a toy or bone and a nice rub down!

4. Introduce People Slowly

Try to introduce only one new person a week into your dog’s life. When they meet your dog, have them offer a treat and speak in a happy, low, encouraging voice. You don’t want to use a high pitch which could excite him. Keep your dog on a leash at first but do not force him to go near the person. Let him take his time.

5. Always use positive reinforcement

The main thing to remember when socializing an adult dog is to be positive and to make each new experience a good one with praise and treats. Being negative or raising your voice does not work well here and will likely will create a more nervous dog. In time, your new family member will become at ease at home and in public and will truly be a part of your home.  Love and compassion go a long way to socialization.

You can find more articles on pet advice on petpav.com, our pet social network that is like Facebook for pets.

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