Socialisation & Dog Meet-ups

Socialisation refers generally to the process of teaching your dog how to function in the world. Encompassing everything from learning how to get along with humans and other animals, as well as facing new challenges and environments with the aim being to adapt in a calm and confident manner. All this leads to dogs living a less stressful and enjoyable life, promoting in turn a higher quality of living.

The key to raising a well-adjusted dog is to start early! Puppies like children, are able to absorb a whole host of information during their early formative years. Learning about the world around them is a huge part of their development. Although it is not possible to introduce your puppy to every possible meet up or social occasion; proper early socialisation will allow your dog to adapt faster to new circumstances throughout their lives. Even though the foundations of experiences and behaviours are established in the first few months of their lives, learning just like in the case of humans never ceases even during adulthood.

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There are a variety of socialisations scenarios with the most important including:

  • Interaction with you, your family and other people
  • Interaction with other dogs and animals
  • Introduction and exposure to new experiences (walks on a leash, transport, whether car, bus or train, and loud day-to-day noises)
  • Introduction to ‘strange’ places such as other people’s homes, dog parks and vets
  • Being around children

The benefits are multifaceted with the principle aim of reducing fear in these difficult circumstances and being able to teach appropriate and inappropriate responses to stimuli in differing environments.

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Owners are the most important person in each dog’s life and therefore they will be learning about the environment from yourself. Even though at times a difficult task, the rewards are endless, including knowing that you have raised a happy and well-rounded dog. Although each case is different, all pets can benefit from the following suggestions.

  • Start Slow & Be Patient.Β Noone can learn everything they need for the adult world in the first few weeks of their lives, let along the first few years. Overwhelming them, is bound to scare them and instil a sense of fear with particular environments. Small steps are key from walking in the garden, around the block, the park and then to a small playgroup. There will always be setbacks, but be patient and give lots of praise.
  • Get others involved in the socialisation process. Introducing your dog to people and other animals as early as possible is essential for all modern dog owners. Inviting people into your home to meet the dog is great as it sends signals that visitors are welcome. Having ‘role models’ of well socialised and behaved dogs is key so others can learn by example. Explain the expectations of your friends & families is of paramount importance as to reinforce the messages and lessons trying to be taught.
  • Positive Reinforcement. Always remember to reward and praise your dog when they exhibit positive behaviours, which will encourage them to do it more. As dogs read facial expressions, big smiles as well as enthusiastic and genuine praise is best. Dog crave attention and the respective positive reactions and rewards such as tickles or play time only reinforces the good behaviour. Remember that dogs enjoys pleasing you!

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Socializing your dog with other dogs is a smart thing to do, even if you have no intention of owning multiple dogs at the same time. Dogs are very social creatures and sometimes just need to have the company of their own kind. It is such a joy to watch dogs interact and play with each other. However, if you have a dog who isn’t socialized, you and your dog could be missing out on great experiences.
Before joining the local dog park and thrusting Fido into the mix, start off by taking your dog for a walk with a friend and their dog that has, preferably, an easy-going temperament and that is known to act well with other dogs. Keeping the dogs on their leashes with firm control is important, especially at the initial meeting. Just give them time to sniff each other and make their introductions, and then begin walking them. Watch how they interact, and you may soon see a companionship forming.

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If you join a dog park, it’s best to bring Fido when it isn’t too crowded. Ease your dog into the group, which might be a bit overwhelming at first. Go by your dog’s timetable. You have to read their cues to see when they are ready to interact with others, whether people or canines.

There are various places to find similarly minded people. Dog meet-up groups are a great place to interact with fellow dog lovers. They vary in size and location, but happen across the UK only a weekly basis. Have a look at http://www.meetup.com or find specific ones to your location or breed on social media sites such as Facebook. We’ve found a London Pugs Meets Here and also a Dog Party in Petersfield this weekend!

Properly socializing your pooch is a wonderful gift you can give your dog, your family, and yourself. It may take some time, but the benefits you reap will last a lifetime. It will make for a happier, healthier dog who is more enjoyable to be around and who is truly a member of your family. That is something all dogs want and deserve.

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