Socializing your pet is challenging. You want your dog to behave well at the dog park, or manage interactions with other humans. The last thing you want is to feel concern about his or her behavior. Here are some ways to train your dog to be a “good boy” at home, so he or she will be well-behaved outside the house:
- Teach ‘em young. The best time to teach your dog how to properly interact with you, other people, and other animals is when he or she is a puppy. The most teachable age is between 3 weeks and 18 weeks.
- Positive reinforcement. Dogs thrive on praise. Dogs live a simple life, and their owner is usually the center of their world. So, when your dog does good things, such as obeying commands or not jumping on a visitor, offer lots of praise! Use a happy tone and tell them they did well, then give them a treat or a back rub. This will start to condition the pup to behave the way you want.
- Exposure. Acclimate your pup to various things he/she might encounter as much as possible, preferably without other people around. Try to introduce anything he/she will experience as an adult dog while he/she is still a puppy. Take lots of walks with your pup, so he/she learns about different people and animals as well as different outside sounds such as children screaming or loud buses and cars. Make sure not to overwhelm your pet with too much at once. Take it a bit at a time. Once you have introduced your pet to different people and animals, then try the dog park. A few things to include: people in wheelchairs, fireworks, and people exercising as well as different surfaces under their feet.
- Consistency. When training a new pet, you and anyone else involved in the training process should use the same commands. If one person says “sit” and the other says “sit down” the dog may get confused, thinking that they are different commands. If you allow the dog to jump on people who don’t mind, but then yell at him when he jumps on others, he/she won’t know the difference. If he knows to sit with the command “sit” and is taught not to jump on anyone, he will know its boundaries and behave well wherever you go. Additionally, put your furry friend on a feeding schedule, so he knows exactly when to expect breakfast and supper/dinner. Take him out around the same times every day so he knows when it’s OK to go to the bathroom and won’t go in the house.
What questions do you have about socializing your pet? Ask us at your next appointment.