Socialising your dog with other dogs is essential for their growth and development. Dogs need to see different dogs, different parks, play areas etc to get well acclimated to different environments. Canine socialisation is very crucial but it is also done wrongly most of the time.
So in this article, we will tell you the 7 ways to socialise your dogs with other dogs.
How To Socialise Your Dog With Other Dogs
Though some dogs naturally love the company of other canines, you may need to put in a little more effort than you think. But with some of the steps mentioned below, you can get your dog to socialise your dog with other dogs in no time.
1. Exercise First
One of the most common mistakes pet owners do is that they just leave their dogs with the other dogs and hope for the best. Now, this may work if you have a naturally friendly, low to moderate energy dog but just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it’s going to work for all other dogs.
For most dogs, especially high energy reactive dogs, it is very important to ensure they have a good workout before they meet anyone else. This will ensure that they are calm and more receptive to meeting new dogs.
2. Choose Wisely
You may see a lot of pet parents in your locality allowing their dogs to interact with all other pet dogs. As fun as it may look, it’s not the best way to go about it. Dogs have diverse personalities and we can’t just expect them to get along with everyone.
Some dogs are bullies and may try to dominate everyone in the park while others are timid and like to play with dogs that are gentle. Additionally, you must be cautious of groups of dogs playing together as some may not get their vaccinations on time, others can have fleas and ticks as well.
When you bring home a new puppy and all their vaccinations are complete, you must begin introducing them to a softer, gentler adult dog. As they grow older, choose dogs of a similar size and temperament. The more successes they have with other dogs, the more likely they are to feel comfortable around different breeds.
3. Socialising Often
Canine socialisation is not a one-time thing, especially if your dog is anxious around other dogs. They need to meet often to really get comfortable with each other and learn their play styles.
Meeting a few times a week is a healthy way to make sure they are getting acclaimed with their new friends.
4. Go Slow
If your dog is hypersensitive to their environment, they need you to go slow. Most ethical trainers follow a ‘one new dog a week principle’ because it works!
Introduce them to one new thing a week. It can be anything from a dog at a distance to a close play session with a dog they are familiar with but make sure you do slow. The last thing you want to do is overstimulate them or overwhelm them with a new company.
5. Perfect Their ‘Come’ & ‘Stay’
This is perhaps the biggest mistake many pet owners make when they introduce their dogs to other dogs. Pet parents must teach their dogs to ‘stay’ and ‘come’ on command no matter how engrossed they are with their friends. This is for their own safety and for the safety of other dogs.
If your dog loves to be around people and dogs, it is important to teach them to come back or to stay in case they run into a timid dog by accident or get into a fight. They may run off or come in front of a cycle. If they are able to respond to your command on time you may save them from an accident. This brings us to the second point:
6. Training Comes Hand In Hand
If you want your dog to play off-leash in an unfenced area, you must be able to work up to it. Remember that socialisation does not always mean to make your dog play with other dogs, but it can also mean that your dog isn’t as reactive around other dogs, or that they are attentive to your commands even when there’s a dog nearby.
They cannot learn any of these things if you don’t work up to it. We know that in most places in India, it is hard to find fenced areas for your dogs to play. That is why it is important to train them near other dogs. You must start far and slowly work their way towards the dogs making sure they are attentive to you every time.
7. Know When To Intervene
So, you have trained your dog and made sure that they are adequately socialized with other dogs. The journey is not over! Because even when everything is perfect and the dogs get along well with each other, fights can still break out.
You may be talking to other pet parents but you must keep an eye on your dogs too. They can get into an ugly fight if we don’t intervene on time. So, while you let them have a good time. You must know when to intervene.
Things You Shouldn’t Do
As we said earlier, apart from potty training, socialising your dog with other dogs is perhaps the second most important thing to train them for but, it also is done incorrectly most of the time. So, while you know how to do it right, you must also know how not to socialise your dog with other dogs.
1. Keep Them On A Tight Leash
When you introduce your dog to another dog for the first time, keeping them on a tight leash seems like the most convenient way to reduce fights but it is, in fact, the most common way to stress your dog out.
Most dog fights occur when dogs are on a leash. This happens because when they’re on-leash, dogs often feel they have no other place to run. When they come across a new dog, they are far more likely to retaliate out of fear and anxiety when they are on a leash.
2. Avoid Small Places
For the same reasons as above, small spaces are not the best place to begin introductions; especially if you’re introducing two adult dogs. If one of them feels suffocated, they can very easily lash out on the other.
This is why it is better to take them out in the lawn and introduce them in common ground. If you have a fenced area, you can take them off-leash but otherwise, a long loose lead should work just fine.
3. Consider Muzzles
If your dog is very reactive, you can use an ethical broad muzzle that allows them to eat and drink food. Safety always comes first and if your dog is known to bite, or be a bully, you should consider muzzling them.
We would never encourage pet parents to use choke chains, prong collars etc because they cause pain and that is not a proper way to teach them anything. Muzzles, on the other hand, provide a safe barrier between two dogs and allows them to come close to each other. You may consider asking the other pet parent to also put a muzzle on their dog to ensure that your dog is safe too.
4. Get Angry Or Frustrated
Dogs are much more aware of their surroundings than we give them credit for. If we are frustrated or afraid of what will happen when they meet another dog, they may feed off that energy and try to attack the other dog. So, try your best to carry a calm and confident demeanour in front of your dog.
So, now that you know what you should and shouldn’t do, we urge you to start with the socialisation process. Some breeds are non-aggressive and very easy to socialise while others need more time. Patience is key when you want to socialise your dog with other dogs.
What did you do to socialise your dog? Let us know in the comments section below. We are sure others will benefit from your experiences.