Now that the restrictions have lifted to a large degree and we are venturing out a little more, we can think a more regarding socialising our dogs in a less restricted way. Hooray! This also being most welcome for those of us that had new pups and dogs join us during the pandemic, and eager to expand their horizons!
Socialisation is a hugely important and enjoyable part of raising a young dog or as the ongoing help given to an adopted dog. Socialising forms part of any dog’s well-being not just those who are learning it! It is about teaching and exposing your dog to people, animals, sights, sounds and smells in a positive way which enables them to be comfortable and confident in their world and experiencing new things.
So basically, we are looking to help our beloved friends to gain experience of the world positively, so that they can be part of it – and live their best life! We love and listen to our four-legged friends, and we gently aim for the best they can be, so we can enjoy the best quality of life together and socialisation forms a key part of this. But our aspirations for “our best life together” are not going to look the same for every family (and would be a long-term goal for some). Our dogs should be comfortable as a priority, and any stress or signs of fear should be looked after and approached with a trainer to make sure our dogs, (and ourselves of course) are getting the support we need before we head out to adventures new!
Socialisation should be fun! Exploring the world together! For any age or experience, or however our dogs come into our lives. I believe that every dog should be treated as the individual that they are! Although we cannot expect every dog to automatically love every person, every dog, and every new thing they meet. Everyone moves at their own pace and this too, should be considered when thinking about socialising with our dogs.
My oldest dog was not so keen on other dogs when I first rehomed him, he was timid and nervous of them generally. Gradually we worked together, and he turned out to be a true social butterfly underneath it all! And in the end, we have enjoyed many wonderful times playing with other dogs, meeting new people and exploring new places, and this gives him so much joy. A joy that I wanted to share with my younger dog when I brought him home. He also loves these adventures, new experiences, and all we do, but he is not so keen on dogs with no concept of personal space! We are working on it!
Good things to remember –
· Explore at his pace
· Keep it comfortable and no stress
· Get help if needed or if unsure of anything
· Be mindful of other dogs who may not be able to socialise – Yellow dog project is an excellent resource for this information https://www.yellowdoguk.co.uk/
· Puppy classes recommended for pups
· Training classes or 1-1s for older dogs needing extra help
So for our four legged friends who are ready to take on the world, socially, here are some fun ideas for inspiration:
8 Fun Ideas to add extra social enrichment to your time with your dog:
Social dog walks
A great way to meet other dogs and like-minded people with the sole purpose of socialising the dogs together – and a great way to exercise at the same time!
Puppy parties are a really valuable way for pups to socialise with other pups, and humans, at a key time in their development for socialisation. They are really fun too!
Visiting a friend? Bring your dog!
If your friend doesn’t mind of course, experiencing a different home or garden, with different smells and sights can be a really great experience for your dog. And if your friend has a friendly dog then so much the better!
Popping to the pub? Choose a dog friendly pub!
Most of us love visiting our local for a pint or a meal, and lots of our dogs do to! Lots of pubs are dog friendly these days, which provides a great choice for that Sunday afternoon outing together. This one is great for all seasons and all weathers as lots of pubs have cosy indoors and summery outdoor areas to enjoy.
Start a new class
Ever been curious about some of the activities you’ve heard about or seen on Crufts? Most dog classes are fun, stimulating and a great way to bond with your dog. Also being a great way to exercise their body and mind as well as being around others in a new situation.
Dog friendly holidays
If an afternoon somewhere different can be good for your dog, then imagine how great time away with you can be for them! Providing lots of new places and activities to experience. Just make sure you prepare well with packing and training anything needed ahead of time, to ensure success for your holiday.
Different walks, different shops, different cafes. Try a different environment like the beach, woods, or new village for your daily dog walks. Visit different dog parks to your usual to meet different doggy friends! Exposure to new sights, smells and experiences all help with socialising and give us the opportunity to encounter different things that we may not do on our usual walks.
For a fun summer’s day in the sunshine (hopefully) with your dog. Most Fun dog shows or local fetes have lots of things for your dog to see and do, lots of dogs to say hi to and lots of food and stalls for us to explore too. Some have small “have a go” activities like agility or flyball which are great to try!
What social activities do you enjoy with your dog?