Want a dog that’s friendly and trustworthy around both people and other dogs? You might think all you need to do is find the right breed of dog and your job is done. In reality, how you care for your dog plays a big role in how he responds to people and other canines, especially if you’ve got a puppy.
There’s a short period in a puppy’s development, from very early puppyhood to six or seven months of age, when his experiences have a big effect on his entire approach to life. If he has lots of positive encounters with other dogs, all kinds of humans, and new situations during that developmental window, he’s far more likely to grow up to be a confident, relaxed, and friendly dog. Trainers call this process socialization.
Although puppyhood is the prime time for socialization, it’s not the only time. Even a dog that had a hopping social life in his youth can become less friendly over time if he’s isolated during adulthood. And if your adult dog didn’t get enough socialization growing up, you may be able to improve his social skills — although an adult’s personality is more fixed than a puppy’s. You’ll have to move slowly and cautiously, and if you see signs of aggression or extreme timidity, get help from a professional behaviorist right away.
How can I socialize my dog in our neighborhood? Utilize your local dog community. Dog Daycare facilities (LIKE US, goFETCH!), Veterinarian hospitals, pet supply stores, grooming facilities and your neighbors out on a walk with their four-legged companions. Ask them where they recommend for their pet’s needs, such as training, daycare, boarding, grooming, Vet preference and the different dog parks they may attend. Do a little research on the recommendations and start molding your dog into a model K-9 citizen.