One of the main ways to insure that your dog does not become aggressive or fearful of other dogs or people is to make certain that he is well socialized. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs your dog needs more than a yard in which to exercise, or a short walk down the street. He needs to meet other dogs and people. And not just a couple, but as large a variety as possible.
Socialize your dog at every opportunity. Expose him to both people of all ages and other pets. If you have neighbors with dogs set up play dates. You cannot play with your dog the same way as another dog and all dogs need this outlet. Dog parks are great provided the dog owners are watchful and aware of what their dogs are up to. It can be aggravating if someone brings an assertive dog to the park and does not monitor the play to insure it does not get out of control.
Here are 5 steps to insuring your dog is well behaved and socialized:
1. The moment you bring your dog home you should make arrangements to let him meet other dogs and people. If you live in an apartment/condo building, there is likely to be a dog walking area nearby. Do not endeavor to avoid contact with the other dogs. Let them meet, play and interact. One fact to keep in mind, however, is that young puppies are very susceptible to infection. If your pup has not completed his full round of vaccinations make certain to not allow him near dogs that have not had their own vaccinations. As you cannot check the veterinary records of everyone you meet on the street or at a dog park, allow your pup to only play with the dogs of people you know have been conscientious about appropriate preventative treatments.
2. When walking your dog, use a leash. However, keep the leash very loose when your dog greets another dog. Tight leashes create frustration which can easily turn into aggression. A tight leash can also injure the dog, especially if the leash is attached to a neck collar instead of a harness. Be relaxed about the social greetings and your dog is sure to follow your lead.
3. If you have the opportunity to let your dog run in a fenced in area while playing with other dogs take advantage of this. Dogs often cannot play well when leashed. In a dog park or neighbor’s fenced yard, they can race around and interact in a natural way, easing much of the stress associated with being on a leash.
4. Train your dog from the first day you bring him home. A trained dog is a joy to have around. Setting parameters early will insure that the house rules are adhered to consistently. House rules include control at the door when guests arrive, refraining from counter-surfing and treasure hunting in the garbage. Teaching your dog to not jump on people is a big plus as is chewing on his own toys and not your fingers. Obedience commands go a long way toward everyday control and enjoyment of your dog. A trained dog will be more relaxed when meeting new people and other dogs.
5. Socialize your dog at every opportunity. Take him to pet shops that allow dogs to shop with you. Take him with you to family activities or on vacation. The more exposure your dog has to the world, the better he will behave within it.