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Helping Your Dog Socialize

by Coach Lilly

Summertime is social time. The warm weather makes most of us feel like getting out and seeing friends more often at social gatherings and other meetups. Spending more time outside and with other people is great, but if you are planning on bringing your dog along, you might want to give some thought to how you will help your dog feel calm and comfortable in these social situations. Here are some of the most common situations and some tips on how to help your dog enjoy them.

A Walk in the Neighborhood

You take your dog on walks all the time, right? (Right?) In your own neighborhood, your dog likely feels comfortable. This is her territory after all! On your walk around the block, you may run into familiar neighbors or even other dogs. If your dog is on a leash, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep her a safe distance from you. (For a leash that shows off your team pride, check out the dog leash collection at DoggieNation.)

But you can’t rely on a leash to solve all your problems. Training is important too. Teach your dog some basic commands like “heel,” “sit,” and “stay.” If you are going out with your dog, you should be confident that she will come when you call. Making sure that your dog has basic training is important to her safety and the safety of others.

A Visit to the Dog Park

Dog parks can be a lot of fun, but they can also be overwhelming for dogs that aren’t used to being around dogs that they don’t know. The same basic training that you need to take your dog on walks around the neighborhood applies here too.

Before you let your dog off the leash at the dog park, observe the other dogs. When you do let your dog off the leash, you will need to keep an eye on your dog, not just to watch out for his own behavior, but also the behavior of the other dogs. If another dog is playing too aggressively, you can step in and intervene to keep your dog safe. If your dog doesn’t seem to be having a good time, it’s OK to leave and try again another day.

A Stop by a Friend’s House

If you want to bring your dog over to a friend’s house, it’s worth checking with your friend to make sure that they feel comfortable having dogs over. This common courtesy could save both of you from an awkward situation.

Interacting with Small Children

Some dogs are patient and great with kids, but if a dog is not well-trained and socialized, putting him together with a child without supervision could lead to disaster. To help your dog socialize and learn to interact with children, it’s good to introduce your dog first to children that also know how to be gentle with dogs. Once your dog is feeling comfortable, you can have confidence that your dog will react well to meeting a new child, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on them during these interactions.

Hanging out with You!

Spending time with you is probably one of the social situations that your dog feels most comfortable with. Be sure to give your dog lots of love and affection. Your dog will give you that love and affection back times one hundred!

Are there any other socialization ideas that have worked for you? We would love to hear them in the comments.

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