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It was Singles Day last month—a day where single people take pride in being “consciously uncoupled.” Maybe you’re okay if your dog’s a lone ranger. Maybe all they need is you, and that’s enough.
But in case you’re one of the pet owners who is left scratching their head because your pup just can’t seem to make friends, we’ve got some helpful advice.
Before we dive in, remember that every dog is different. Some are naturally more shy, and some have had traumatic experiences that may have caused them to be more anxious around other dogs and humans. So, as you look to help your dog socialize more, be patient with them, and give them the time and space they need.
How can I tell if my dog is shy or anxious?
If your dog tends to back away or cower when they meet another person, this could be a sign. Similarly, if they whine, tremble or bark when other dogs get close, it could be due to anxiety or nervousness.
Also, look out for subtle signs like if they appear uninterested or start pacing in the company of other dogs.
So, how do I help socialize my pup?
To help them get more comfortable around humans, ask whomever they’re meeting with to crouch down. Interacting with a dog at their level takes some of the perceived threat away. Similarly, ask people to avoid direct eye contact initially, or getting too close too soon, or making any sudden movements. It’s also a better idea to have them pet your dog under the chin or on the belly, instead of going for the head.
Help out the new person and let them share some treats with your pup! This will help your dog warm up to new people and start trusting them.
To help your dog around other dogs, don’t be afraid to keep them on a firm leash for a while when you’re out on walks. You might know your dog well, but it’s difficult to predict how other dogs might behave. Start by getting your pup to play with other pups that you know. Arrange for play dates with dogs that you know are friendly and patient. Gradually, expand their circle of friends so that they’re comfortable with more dogs.
When you’re out for a walk, keep a pack of training treats on you so you can reward your dog for every positive interaction. Treats are also a great way to train your dog to pay attention only to you, and avoid distractions.
Finally, if you think progress is very slow or non-existent, it might be a good idea to take them to a professional trainer or for counter-conditioning classes with an expert.
About Smart Cookie Barkery
Over the last 10 years, Smart Cookie’s training treats, functional treats and food toppers have helped dogs be healthier and happier. Our hypoallergenic treats are great for dogs with sensitive stomachs or with a previous history of allergies.