This Is How You Socialize Adult Dogs
Socializing a dog while it is still a puppy is a straight-forward and easy task that every dog owner can undertake without worrying too much about failing. However, the story is quite different with adult dogs, i.e. dogs that are considered socially mature (usually between 1 and 3 years of age). It can be a tricky proposition to socialize an adult dog and there are quite a few factors that you need to include when deciding to do so.
In order to understand dog socialization as a concept, it would probably be best to examine how it is done when the dog is still a puppy. Between 3 and 20 weeks, puppies are generally quite welcoming to new people, dogs, places and experiences overall. It is, therefore, really not that difficult to make sure they are feeling comfortable in new situations. All you need are some treats to reward them after doing something new. After four to five months of this, the young pup will become very receptive of new experiences, including new dogs.
Moreover, putting puppies among other puppies at such young age is very beneficial as they are adopting many new skills and learning new things. For instance, during their interaction, young puppies will learn about bite inhibition and various playtime actions that other puppies will tolerate or not. In addition to this, this makes them feel comfortable around other dogs, which is something that will last them a lifetime.
The situation is quite different for adult dogs, both when we are talking such group activities and when we are talking simple socialization that can involve a single other dog.
Adult dogs, for example, will not particularly enjoy playing with other dogs, “having the time of their life” in an off-leash situation. This is particularly true of female adult dogs who simply cannot be bothered to play with other adult dogs more times than not. There are a few breeds who have a more “youthful disposition”, but even that does not last too long. It is the same with humans – you do not exactly see your colleagues playing schoolyard games at lunch break, do you?
Often times, owners of adult dogs believe that their newly adopted “older” dog has to learn to socialize and enjoy playtime with other dogs. For some dogs, this is something they simply don’t enjoy and trying to socialize such a dog will actually be torture for them. However, if you think that your new adult dog might actually enjoy company of other dogs, even if it is only one dog, there are some things that you can do to make this go smoother.
For one, you will want to take your adult dog to a public place and try to teach it calm behavior when new people or animals pass close-by. Bring a huge supply of treats and every time they remain calm and sit quietly when another dog passes, reward them and let them know their calmness is the reason for the treat. If they start barking at another dog, get their attention and walk with them away from the situation.
Once that they learn the importance of staying calm and not reacting to every single movement of another dog or even their mere presence, it might be time to start introducing them to one-on-one play with another canine.
The best thing to do is to have a friend or an acquaintance bring their easygoing, cool dog for a joint walk in the park. Ensure that the distance between the dogs is sizeable and try to gauge if your dog is getting tense or if it remains relaxed during the walk. If it is relaxed and the other dog is also calm, you can allow them a brief “sniffing window”. If you notice any tension, split them up. If they are both relaxed, their tails are wagging and they are having a great time, you might consider finding a fenced space for the two of them where they can play.
One thing that we would love for you to take from this article is that you should never force socialization on your adult dog. You will not be doing anyone any favors if you try to push it on them. Dogs do not have to be social with other dogs in order to lead happy, fulfilled lives.