Benefits of Socializing Your Dog

By Becca Jurney and Marlene Wolchinsky, Resort Team

Getting a new dog is always a unique experience. No matter if they are puppies or older, you and your new dog are learning each other’s behaviors and personalities. Regardless of the age of your dog, socialization is a big part of helping your pet navigate the world around them without fear or aggression. It is always better to start at an early age. Research shows that 3 – 4 months is when puppies are easiest to teach but patience is key at any age. Extra tolerance may be needed for older dogs and rescued or adopted pets as they can have deeper fears and learned reactions to certain situations and things.

What is socialization? Socialization is exposing your pet to many different sounds, experiences, places, people, animals, and anything else they may experience in their lives without overdoing it. The key is gentle exposure for prolonged periods until what you are getting them used to becomes comfortable to them. Socialization can help in many ways; it can help with veterinary appointments, trips to the park and walks through the neighborhood. It can also help when boarding or traveling with your pet. With vet appointments, it will allow the vet staff to give the proper care to your pet if they are comfortable being in new places, around new people or pets, and are used to being handled. For trips to the park, your pet will be able to interact with different people and pets without fear and may even make new doggy friends. A socialized pet is much easier to walk through the neighborhood since you don’t have to worry about your pet barking or becoming aggressive towards others.

Socialization will also help you if you ever need to travel and are unable to take your pet with you. Boarding kennels, resorts, and even at-home care will benefit by socializing your pet and showing them that new places and people are safe. Pets who are not as socialized tend to become afraid of the new places, sounds, and people in these situations and can lash out when scared or become reclusive. This helps with grooming as well. Dogs who aren’t socialized tend to get anxious around the groomers and it can be dangerous for them if they squirm or thrash about. Socialization will help your dog learn that touches can be okay.

Some of the best ways to socialize your dog is to take them on short outings at first. You can take them to pet-friendly stores, dog parks, daycares, or for short walks in the neighborhood. You can even do things at home as well. Leaving blinds open which allows your pet to watch the world around them and get used to the comings and goings outside. Getting them used to your touch as well will help by showing them that touches can be loving and gentle. Playing with their feet is also a great way to get them used to getting their nails trimmed and touching and brushing their teeth to help with future teeth brushing. A great way to get them used to all the touches they will face in their lives is to give them belly rubs and touch/pet them when they are in various positions, such as laying on the couch, on their backs, etc.

Enrolling your pup in a dog daycare provides them with a social environment where they can make new canine and human friends in a safe and controlled environment. It helps them pass the time and fills their days with fun, companionship, walks, and treats, diminishing separation anxiety and destructive behavior.

At Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital, Resort and Spa, we offer doggy daycare, day lodging, overnight stays, and grooming.  You can even throw your dog a birthday party in one of our outdoor play areas. Call 301-575-5700 for more information or to schedule a tour.

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