Everyone would like their dogs to get along well with all others but that is often not the case.
Here are some tips to help get your new dog socialized and to keep your older dog as friendly as they can be.
- Obedience classes provide an environment where all the dogs are kept under control. This can be very helpful if your pet seems wary around other dogs. Organized classes give him the opportunity to be around other pups, but from a slight distance.
- If you have friends with dogs, arrange play dates with one (carefully selected) dog at a time. Put your dog and his doggy friend in a safe, enclosed area and let them get to know each other. This is another low pressure social situation in which your pup can hone his skills without being overwhelmed by too many dogs, or an overly dominant dog.
- Get involved in dog agility competitions. These events provide a great opportunity for your dog to be around other dogs and people while getting lots of exercise and mental stimulation.
- If agility isn’t appealing, there are lots of other activities that might be, including flying disc, dock jumping/dock diving, flyball, herding, hunt and field trials and musical freestyle. Dogplay.com is a good resource for exploring organized exercise and socialization possibilities.
- A really fabulous socialization activity you can share with your pet, depending on his temperament and personality, is training to be a therapeutic visitation dog.
- Another possible option for socialization and exercise is to enroll your pet in a doggy daycare program one or two days a week. The facility you choose should have a knowledgeable staff, separate play areas for dogs of different sizes, and supervised playgroups. Extensive temperament tests should be performed on all dogs to evaluate their behavior in the daycare environment. Introduction to the pack should be gradual for all new dogs. A word of caution about doggy daycare facilities … most require at least yearly re-vaccinations for rabies, distemper, parvo and bordetella. Ask your vet if that is OK with them.
- Last but not least, never underestimate the socialization value of regular daily walks with your dog. You both get fresh air, stress-relieving and perhaps even heart-thumping exercise, and opportunities to encounter old and new two- and four-legged friends.