Getting dogs acquainted with other dogs, otherwise known as socialization, has numerous benefits, both for the pup and for you. Well-socialized dogs are easier to take in public, are less likely to get into fights and have more opportunities to enjoy the company of other companion animals.
Puppies actually learn their early socialization skills with their littermates. They play, nip and let each other know when playtime gets too rough. Owners who continue this type of socialization soon after weaning, when the puppy is still young, will have the best results, though careful introductions can be made at any age. Use caution to ensure early socialization is done only with dogs of similar size and temperament and that your pup has all required inoculations for his age to protect against spread of infection or disease.
Ideally, behavioral training is conducted in coordination with socialization efforts. For example, a dog or puppy training program at a pet store or community center gives you the opportunity to teach basic obedience commands while simultaneously socializing your dog and getting him acquainted with other animals. Conducting both of these activities in tandem helps ensure your dog is well-mannered and is introduced to other canines in a positive and controlled environment.
Friends and neighbors can provide positive opportunities for pet socialization. Chances are you know the temperament and behavior of the animals of the people most closely associated with you and can arrange times for your dogs to meet in a calm setting. Always keep your pup leashed, and ask the other dog owners to do the same, at least when introducing dogs for the first few times. Give your pups the opportunity to smell one another, enjoy a treat together and be the recipient of positive reinforcement and praise from you.
Once your dog is well-trained and has successfully made the acquaintance of other canines, consider venturing to a dog park to let him try out his new-found social skills. Again, keep your dog leashed and look for interactions with other dogs of similar size and temperament. Protect and remove your dog from situations if aggressive behavior is exhibited by either dog, or if your dog shows fear or hesitation. Always reward positive interactions to encourage ongoing good behavior.
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