How To Socialize An Adult Dog

A lot of forums out there are of the opinion there is a window period that comes with socializing rescues. Yes, dogs that have not been socialized as puppies usually present as adult dogs with abuse symptoms. A lot of people that have shy dogs may assume their dogs went through abuse, but in all probability, they were not socialized well when they were young.

Socializing a puppy looks very different from socializing adult dogs. In their formative stages of development which is up to 20 weeks, puppies tend to be accepting of new faces, locations, and even other dogs. During this time, the owner should show them new experiences regularly and associate these experiences with joy by feeding them favorite snacks or engaging in play. They will retain happy memories of each experience and start to fend of negative emotions.

While young puppies are easier to socialize around other young dogs because of their ability to accept, the older dogs between the ages of 1 and 3 are a different story. The territorial instinc generally kicks in during their stages of social maturity, so they typically do not like playing with other dogs of the same age. Upon meeting other dogs on excursions, they may stick with their human family or display aggression if the other dog gets too close. Media has given the impression this is a sign of a wild attribute and should be tamed which is wrong psychology and may even cause irreversible damage if a dog is pushed beyond its limit.

“…wrong psychology…may even cause irreversible damage if a dog is pushed beyond its limit.”

Dogs should be trained to be calm even in the presence of other dogs though it should be on a reward versus a punishment basis as this is a natural part of their instinct. Try to distract the dog, if it starts to get uncomfortable from random proximity issues. Reward it when it behaves appropriately in the presence of other dogs. Allowing respectful distances between them is key while they get accustomed to each other’s presence. Teaching them to behave while protecting them from the discomfort of unwanted breach of their space is the main objective.

Photo credit: Singing With Light via Foter.com

If you enjoyed this post, you should read Working With The Dog That Is In Front Of You here.

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