Taking your dog outside for walks and adventures is part and parcel of being a pet owner; it keeps them happy and healthy. When you venture out in public areas, it’s great if you have a dog that is comfortable and care-free when it comes to interacting with other four-legged companions that you meet along the way too.
Dogs are like people and all have their own unique personalities, so some will be more outgoing than others, while some will be timider. Either way, you want to make sure your pup can achieve healthy dog to dog interaction at some level, and we’ve got some helpful pointers that you can use to make this happen.
Socialising Your Dog with Other Dogs
Get the treats at the ready
The vast majority of dogs will do absolutely anything if there’s the chance of a treat at the end of it! With this in mind, it’s always useful to have a little stash of their favourite treats in your pocket to help keep them on best behaviour.
If, after any encounters with other dogs, it’s been a success – no matter how big or small – you should let them enjoy a treat as this will help to encourage positive social behaviour/interactions.
You can use pretty much anything as a treat for your dog, as long as they like it and it’s not bad for them. For example, you can use small pieces of chicken, fruit or vegetables (you’ll probably know which ones they love!), and you can also give them a specially-made dog treat too – it’s just about what works for you.
You might even want to use a toy as well that you can throw for them when they’ve done something positive. You can go to Woof Dog to find lots of fun new toys for your pooch too!
Success comes from familiarity
One of the main factors in dog to dog interaction and socialisation is experience and familiarity. Ideally, you want to let your dog encounter as many positive experiences, with as many different dogs, in as many settings that you possibly can.
Bear in mind that just repeating them to a level of exposure won’t cut it; they must have positive experiences while in these new situations. If you feel like there is a situation that might not be healthy or positive then lead them away from it or you may have to deal with setbacks.
Start them young
Much like teaching a child what is right or wrong, okay and not okay, you can train your four-legged friend to become familiarised with other dogs at an early age. The earlier the better as this will give you more time to work with them on it and let them find their confidence.
It’s advisable to use training schools (this can be applied to younger and older dogs) and you can even use trips to the vets as great opportunities for your pooch to get acquainted with other dogs.
Don’t be tempted to mollycoddle your nervous pups, or if you have a rather boisterous doggy, don’t be too eager to reprimand them. Dogs are very much social animals and have to get to grips with interacting with other dogs, which happens when they socialise.
When you go on walks with your dog, make sure that they get used to going on a range of routes from as young an age as possible because the more unusual places they go to early on, and the more they experience, the more comfortable they’ll be in unfamiliar situations.
Oh! Remember to have those treats at the ready to reinforce good behaviour too.
You’re in charge
Dog's instinctively realise hierarchy and therefore you must always let maintain the fact that you are in charge of situations. They need to know that whatever is happening, you are confident, calm and unafraid because otherwise, they will sense your stress which can make them also afraid.
An effective way of assisting a dog to become comfortable during socialisation is to keep their attention on you while they’re in unfamiliar settings or a situation they’re unsure of. Again, your dog sees you as the leader of the pack and as such will take relief and assurance from the fact that you’re taking care of things in this scenario.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help
As we mentioned at the top of the article, dogs are all different with varying mannerisms and personalities, so if your pup regularly displays aggressive behaviour around other dogs don't hesitate to seek out professional assistance to overcome this issue.
Aggressive reactions don’t always correlate to the fact your dog is bad, it might just be that they have something they need working out in their personality. If you speak to your veterinarian, they will be able to offer advice and a course of action for this.