Life of the Party: Why Socializing Your Dog Matters

Dogs are social animals that thrive on opportunities for companionship with their people and other dogs. Most dog breeds were originally developed as working companions to people and had important hunting, herding and protecting roles. Since then, their role in our lives has changed, but what they live for is still the same. Dogs are truly happiest when interacting with their human family members and engaged with mentally and physically stimulating activities.

Keeping Busy

Providing for your dog’s social needs can include a wide variety of activities that can be easily incorporated into your daily routines and which are enjoyable for your dog--and for you! Some ways to get your dog’s daily social fix include:
Staying Active: Activities like going for daily walks, playing together or going to the dog park provides your dog with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation and opportunities to meet other dogs.
Learning New Things: A well-trained dog is a pleasure, both at home and out in your
community. Regular training time with your dog can be used to teach basic manners or fun tricks. Training classes (or “puppy classes”) can also be used as a great way to teach your dog how to interact with other dogs in a fun and safe setting.
Getting All Freshened Up: Some dogs love to be brushed and groomed, while others are not
quite so accepting of this type of interaction. An effective approach to encourage your dog to enjoy grooming is to pair brushing sessions with a toy stuffed with yummy treats and to include several minutes of gentle handling and petting. Success means that grooming sessions become an enjoyable activity for your dog that allows you to conduct periodic health checks of your dog’s ears, mouth, feet and body.

Keep it Positive

Like all other animals, dogs learn through experience. If a behavior has a pleasant and enjoyable consequence, your dog will tend to repeat that behavior in the future. Likewise, animals avoid repeating behaviors that result in unpleasant consequences. The best socializing methods rely primarily upon positive reinforcement for desired behaviors and management of the home environment to prevent problem behaviors. For help with socializing, ask your veterinarian to recommend a reputable training school in your area that emphasizes this approach to dog training.

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