Adopted a Quarantine Puppy? Here's How to Get Them Caught Up With Their Socialization Training
Last year’s quarantine and work-from-home measures resulted in nearly all pet shelters around America adopting out every dog waiting for a loving home. It’s a well-worn joke that quarantine was a plot made by our dogs to keep us home all day. But while we’re sure our dogs enjoyed having us around 24/7, being home all day with the same people means that a lot of young puppies and newly adopted dogs missed out on their early socialization window.
Ideally, your dog should be socialized with other dogs and people while they’re about three to four months old. Without this socialization, your dog won’t know how to act around other dogs. They may show signs of anxiety and aggression, leading to fights with other dogs. An unsocialized dog can also be scared or aggressive towards other humans as well.
But if your dog had to miss out on their early socialization window, have no worry! It’s never too late to socialize your adult dog. You can still train your dog on how to socialize properly with others so that interacting with new dog and human friends is a positive experience. We have all the tips you need to socialize older dogs right here.
Set Realistic Expectations
Like any other kind of training, socialization is a long process. It happens bit by bit and at your dog’s pace. If you’re going to socialize an older dog, you need to accept that they aren’t going to be ready for the dog park for a while.
Plus, socialization depends heavily on your dog’s past experiences. If your rescue dog has a history of abuse and isolation, it may be more realistic to accept that your dog is not going to like other dogs all that much. If your dog is older and has never known another person besides you (such as a dog adopted in quarantine might), they may never be the most friendly dog towards other people.
Even if your dog doesn’t become a social butterfly, you can still train an under-socialized dog to not fight other dogs and to be calm around other humans. It may take a while, but any dog can learn no matter their age.
Start Small, Then Go Large
If you have been cooped up inside for a year, you probably found your first day back in a crowded, public space to be overwhelming. It’s the same for your dog. If they’ve been inside with you this entire time, you can’t take them to the country fair and expect them to have a positive experience. They need to be eased into being outdoors with other dogs and people.
Luckily, that means you can start socializing from your backyard. Get your anti-social dog comfortable with being outside in your backyard first (a pet door is great for getting a dog to view the backyard as their own space). Once they are good with being in the backyard, sit in the front yard with them. Keep them calm while strangers and their dogs walk by.
From there, you can keep expanding their world. Take them to a small park, then to a busy downtown center. Never escalate until you are sure that your dog is fully comfortable in the smaller version of their world first.
Keep Up the Variety
Once your dog is more comfortable with new experiences, the next step for socializing them is to make sure they keep on having new experiences. Take your dog to new parks. Stop going on set walking route and instead let your dog choose where they want to walk on a leash. Go to a dog park and let them meet other dogs.
Remember to never punish your adult dog or puppy for feeling fear. If your dog has a negative reaction to a new person or dog, command them to sit or remove them from the situation. This will make sure they do not become even more afraid of an already stressful situation.
Consider Professional Help
If your dog is really struggling to adapt to a larger world, it may be time to bring in professional intervention. A dog behaviorist can work with your dog to make sure that they are getting the training and skills they need to get through scary or new situations with little anxiety. There are even dog socialization classes you can sign your puppy up for.
If your dog only needs a tiny push or you lack time to keep introducing them to new dogs, signing them up for doggie daycare is a great way to help them socialize with other dogs. However, only sign them up for a dog daycare program if they are able to be away from you and around unfamiliar dogs without any issue.With these socializing technique tips, you should be able to help a late-bloomer dog socialize with other dogs. Make sure you check out some of our other dog behavior guides, such as why your dog urinates often indoors.