Teaching your children how to interact with others is important for their progress in life, but how much thought have you put into socializing your furry friend? Dogs should develop their social skills within the first 3 months, but this is also the time when their immune system needs to be protected until they can receive their first immunizations. The first step in socialization must begin at home.
First, select a breed of dog that fits with your circumstances and needs. The size and temperament of your pet will also be a factor in his interactions with other dogs and humans. The age of the dog is also a consideration, as mature dogs with pain, etc. may react to intense activity with a snarl even if they are friendly.
Secondly, dogs are pack animals and your family becomes his pack. Your pet should feel safe in his environment and have the freedom to survey his kingdom. A dog who feels confined will not react kindly to others invading his space. How you train your dog will also affect how he reacts to strangers. A friendly dog will greet others as an extension of your family; conversely, a guard dog will consider strangers to be a threat.
Lastly, how you feel about your guests and the emotions they generate will influence your dog’s reaction. Dogs will take their cue from you. If you don’t feel comfortable around your guests, neither will your dog. Since your home is your dog’s “territory”, introducing new people should be handled with care.
Use this 3-month period of isolation to create bonds with all family members, including those who don’t live in your home. Your favorite aunt may be deathly afraid of dogs; however, she might be able to bond with a small dog that isn’t very active.
And sometimes a large dog who is very rambunctious might startle even the best of dog lovers. It’s best at the first meeting to have the animal approach your guest so that he won’t feel threatened. He will sniff the person and if there is no fear or tension, he will become more friendly.
“Dog parties” are a suggested form of introduction. This is an opportunity, maybe on a weekly or monthly basis, to introduce your puppy to different types of people. If your puppy is a bit skittish, a small group is best. The more people that dogs meet while they are still puppies increases their ability to interact successfully with humans during their lifetime.
If the dog is brought into your home after you have children, mutual respect and loving treatment will create lifelong friendships. But, how do you introduce a new baby to your dog? Science has not proved that dogs are able to know when a woman is pregnant. Yet, pets are aware of a change in the family structure.
Try to maintain the dog’s routine and, if changes have to be made, complete them before baby arrives. Otherwise, these changes may be associated with the baby and seen as a threat to your relationship. Yes, dogs do experience jealousy! The first face-to-face should be in a quiet environment with little movement. It is best to sit in a chair and, as in all encounters, let the dog come to you and inspect the new arrival. Share your love with them both equally.
Meetings with strangers can be more dynamic. If tension develops between your dog and a visitor, try having the guest give some food or a toy to the dog from a distance. This gesture will lessen hostilities and the dog may be willing to get closer and develop a rapport with your guest. Or have your guest sit quietly until the dog feels comfortable approaching.
As the dog matures, his early encounters should develop into a genuine love of people who treat them kindly.