If you have a dog and don’t live in an area with many other animals, you might be worried that your pet isn’t getting socialized enough. Plus, having pet-friends to play with could help your dog get out a little extra energy and have a more fulfilled life.
Here are a few tips for helping your dog make some other furry friends:
1. Get Socialization Training
Going into new interactions can be really scary for dogs, especially if they’re not used to meeting other dogs. Your dog might be the sweetest, calmest pet in the world, and might even be totally fine with new humans, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be okay with other dogs. The safest way to start socializing your dog is by doing socialization training.
For puppies, this training is a natural part of how they start their lives. Their mom and fellow puppies helped to teach your dog how to be a dog since dogs have their own rules and social norms. But once you got your dog, it stopped getting those specific, important lessons. You can also find great tips, like from Dr Marty Pets, that will help you learn the rules, too.
Try finding socialization classes near you where your dog can learn the ropes of making friends with other dogs in a safe, monitored environment. Plus, your dog could end up meeting some great new dog friends there (and you could make some friends, too!).
2. Try Doggy Daycare
If you work long hours or live in a city, it might be hard to find time to get to the dog park regularly enough to give your dog time to make friends. Doggy Daycare can be a great solution for pet parents. There, your dog can meet new dogs and have fun doing things like swimming lessons.
Plus, the daycare workers can give you reports on how your dog is doing with the other dogs. And instead of waiting alone all day for you to get back from work, your dog is burning off all that energy in a healthy, enriching way.
3. Contact Friends With Dogs
Chances are, you have at least one friend who owns a dog. If their dog is friendly enough to cooperate, you might try meeting up with them once a week to go for a walk or play in the park. Having regular contact with the same dog will help your pet get more comfortable and feel safe with their new friend. And as a bonus, you’ll have someone to talk to while your pets chase each other around.
4. Throw a Pet Party
Any excuse for a party is welcome, and a pet party is just as good an excuse as any. If your dog has made friends at classes, daycare, or in the park, try having them all over for a day of fun in the backyard. Have lots of toys to play with and a kiddie pool set up for them to cool off in and serve a dog-friendly cake.
This will give all the dog parents a chance to meet and mingle, potentially creating more opportunities for your dog to socialize.
5. Always Be Respectful
Whatever approach you choose to socialize your dog, always remember to be respectful of the other dogs and dog owners’ preferences. If your dog wants to approach another dog while on a walk, maintain your distance until the other dog’s owner gives you the okay to let the distance close. If an owner says their dog is unfriendly, nervous, or simply doesn’t want to engage, respect their wishes and keep moving.
Always keep your dog leashed in public areas and never leave your dog unattended when other dogs might be around. When you’re in the dog park, you can let down your guard a bit, but always notice if your dog is making others uncomfortable (or the other way around).
Helping your pet make friends will enhance its life and make yours a little more interesting, too. Use these tips to make the process more fun and less stressful for everyone.
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*Photos by Nataliya Vaitkevich