How do you socialize a dog to a human? What to Know

It is imperative to start your relationship with your dog or puppy off on the right foot; that begins with proper socialization with humans and dogs from day one. While it is possible to correct previous socialization training “wrongs” in an adult pet, the battle can be uphill, frustrating and often limited. Let’s talk about introducing a new puppy or dog into your home with the goal being a well-socialized, agreeable pet.

Classical conditioning method. Dogs deprived of human interaction during this time have reduced ability to adjust to new people, animals, and experiences. For psychology buffs, socialization is about classical conditioning: creating a positive association between two stimuli or events. Most puppies see play and food as a positive reward. Realistic interactions with not only the family members, but anyone the puppy may eventually encounter (crying babies, senior citizens with walkers) in a positive way should be immediately rewarded.

According to the ASPCA’s National Pet Rehoming survey conducted in 2015, 47% of the 3.3 million dogs surrendered to shelters are relinquished due to “pet problems” including aggression, undesirable behaviors, and eventual adult size of the pet. So much is known about dog and puppy behavior, training, and optimizing adoption success of a new pet, there is much room for a decrease in these numbers.

Training. Training classes for adult dogs not only provide controlled exposure to new stimuli but can help teach you and your dog obedience commands which are necessary to control your dog and reassure them in confusing or scary situations. Though the critical window of socialization has closed for adult dogs, that doesn’t mean that they can’t learn to tolerate and even enjoy new interactions.

Dog classes intended to promote socialization and positive interaction between other humans and pets are held in private training facilities, at veterinary clinics, and even at pet stores. Make sure all puppies are healthy and current on vaccinations and deworming prior to attending class.

How to Socialize a Dog With Humans: A Beginner’s Guide

The very first step in learning how to socialize a dog is not separating the dog from the litter before eight weeks of age.

During those eight weeks, dogs play, fight, and interact with their mother and siblings.

Dogs learn the most about getting along with other dogs during those eight weeks, so separating the dog too early can have lifelong consequences.

Also, allowing your dog to live inside helps the dog build socializing skills.

When dogs are alone outside all the time, they won’t be able to be as socialized as they need to be.

According to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, unsocialized dogs are 580 times more likely to become aggressive.

When a dog becomes aggressive, it is due to fear. Proper socialization is what will help a dog get over any fears they have.

When you get a dog used to outside people and dogs, they won’t become scared every time someone new comes around.

Daily walking does a lot to improve a dog’s socialization. When you walk your dog, they will become used to seeing unfamiliar people and dogs.

They may be fearful at first, but daily walking will quickly get them over that fear.

Dog parks are also an excellent way to help your dog become socialized.

If you have an adult dog that isn’t socialized, you should try other means of socialization, such as leased walks, before bringing your dog to a dog park. You don’t want to risk your dog possibly going after another dog.

However, if you have a puppy or you have an adult dog that was socialized and just needs a refresher, the dog park is perfect.

Your dog will have the opportunity to meet and play with all different kinds of dogs, which goes a long way for socialization.

Introduce your dog to the other dog owners at the dog park too.

When your dog meets people of all different shapes, sizes, and appearances, they will not become alarmed when they meet more new people.

Another great place to introduce your dog to other dogs would be the pet supply store.

I know this one sounds a little different, but it works. Not every dog owner brings their dog to the pet store with them, but many do.

Your dog will have the opportunity to smell new smells, meet new people, and meet their dogs. Plus, taking your dog to the pet supply store doesn’t require much effort on your part. After all, if you already have to go there to pick up supplies, what more is bringing your dog along?

How to Safely Socialize Your Dog

    • Encourage positive interactions with other dogs
    • Introduce your pup to plenty of people
  • Watch and listen to your pup + remove if necessary

    The first key to socializing your dog is making sure he has plenty of interactions with other pups. The more your dog interacts with other dogs, the more comfortable he’ll get with the interactions—and the better he’ll behave.

    Take your dog on plenty of walks around your neighborhood or to the dog park. When he sees another dog, let him stop and interact. If he barks or acts inappropriately, don’t yank on his leash or yell; that will only get him more excited. Instead, either redirect his attention with a command (like telling him to “sit”) or calmly walk away. If he has a positive, appropriate interaction, make sure to lay on the praise. In fact, if you want to encourage that behavior, you can do more than just lay on the praise…

    How to Socialize Your Dog – The RIGHT Way

    Socializing your dog through puppyhood and adolescence is one of the best ways to ensure that they become a friendly and confident adult. Socializing your puppy

    The greatest window of learning in a dog’s life starts around 3 weeks of age and closes between 16 and 20 weeks. This period allows puppies to be exposed to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, and sensations without becoming fearful. Puppies who miss out on these experiences may never learn to be comfortable around unfamiliar things, paving the way for anxiety, fear, and aggression later on in life. Follow these steps to give your puppy the best start possible:

    Young puppies should be cuddled and handled daily by as many different people as possible. Keep the contact gentle and pleasant for the puppy. Hold the puppy in different positions, gently finger her feet, rub her muzzle, stroke her back and sides, look in her ears.

    Acclimate your puppy to lots of different sounds, being careful not to overwhelm him with too much noise too fast. Expose him to kitchen sounds, telephones ringing, children playing, sportscasters yelling on TV, radios playing, buses moving by, and so on.

    Teach your puppy to enjoy having people approach her bowl while she’s eating. This will help to prevent resource guarding, which occurs when dogs feel anxious about others approaching their own valued resources. Walk up to your puppy while shes eating her food, drop an even tastier treat into her dish, and walk away. Repeat once or twice during each meal until your puppy is visibly excited about your approach. Then walk up, physically pick up her dish, put in a treat, give the dish back, and walk away.