Today, we’re looking at providing tips for positive dog socialisation experiences for dogs that might struggle with socialisation.
A previous dog socialisation blog for general tips is available on the Fox Valley Animal Hospital blog. We also covered this topic recently in the motivations your dog may not feel confident with the social side of life as a dog.
This is for general tips with puppies and dogs. When turning around a dog who is reluctant to socialise, you may require a little more care and finesse.
Here are some ways that you can translate dog on dog interactions into positive dog socialisation experiences:
- Follow the less is more approach. Try spending time with other dogs one on one before attempting anything too major
- Consider territory needs. A dog that doesn’t feel great socialising will feel better with neutral territory than they will with entering another dog’s backyard, play area or patch
- Remember your treats and use them liberally. Training your dog to have a positive association with other dogs can help calm the nerves
- Take advantage of dog trust moments. For example, if your dog lives with another dog that is more social and outgoing, this can help support your less confident dog in other environments
- Look for cues. Remember that dogs speak through the use of their voice and their body language and make it your business to notice the cues they give
- Resist negative correction. If your dog barks, bares teeth or shows sign of aggression, don’t silence these reactions. Instead, make the appropriate steps to reduce the stress and de-escalate the situation. Your dog should not be punished for giving out early warnings of potential danger as they will simply repress the warning
- Splash liberally with praise. Don’t be afraid to praise and reward good play and interactions, steps forward and trying out new things
Your dog is looking for assurances that they can have a positive dog socialisation experience. Just as we’ve spoken about with bath or wind phobia, your dog is looking to you for guidance. The more you encourage them to test their limits and conquer fears, the more they will try to do so.
Remember too that if you need help with socialising your dog, you can draw from a wealth of resources.
Some places you may consider for positive dog socialisation advice and opportunities include:
Asking your friendly vet nurses for advice
We may be able to help you with specific advice on what you can do to reduce the stress on your dog while boosting their confidence. We’re also well-versed in kennels, dog training classes and other supporting activities that might be available to you local to Wahroonga.
On-leash exercise areas
Choosing places where dogs are exercised and socialised on-leash as opposed to off can help lower the temperature on dog exercise for human and canine alike. This can help build your dog’s confidence as well as ensuring dogs don’t approach your pet and infringe on personal space. You may also consider areas that are not popular places to exercise dogs to work on building skill sets prior to trying a specific on-leash area.
Checking out doggy day-care
Some aggression and frustration come from dogs feeling as though they cannot socialise on their own terms. The free play aspect of dog day-care situations can help relax your dog. Best to consult the specific dog day-care. Make sure you are open about the situation so you can make an informed choice of which dog day-care suits your dog’s temperament.
Considering a referral to an animal behaviourist
There’s no shame in getting a specialist involved. Just as we might occasionally need support to overcome phobias, emotional situations and stress, dogs can also need extra help. Make sure you book an appointment with us at Fox Valley Animal Hospital and let our vets and vet nurses look at the situation. We can also support you to find the right kind of animal behaviourist in the Wahroonga area and beyond to get the extra support as required.