Last week, we posted about the benefits of dog walking. Our last post focused on how professional dog walks provide much-needed exercise and enrichment when their families can’t. This enrichment then leads to happier, more relaxed, and more fulfilled canine companions. Today, we will focus on the socialization benefits of dog walks.
What is Socialization?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, also known as the AVMA, “Socialization is the process of preparing a dog or cat to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities. Ideally, socialization should begin during the “sensitive period” which is between 3 and 14 weeks of age for puppies, and 3 and 9 weeks of age for kittens.”
Socialization is NOT forcing interactions with other animals, people, or environments. For socialization to work, it has to make the dog’s comfort and safety a top priority.
At Shoreline Happy Paws, we believe that one of the best things a new dog parent can get for their puppy is a professional dog walker. Especially during the sensitive periods, dog walkers coming into the home, taking the dog for a walk, and engaging with them will leave positive impressions on the dog, who is learning to navigate a new environment, new people, and a new life.
With proper socialization, puppies will grow up to embrace changes in routine and environment with ease. They will be comfortable navigating a wide range of experiences and situations.
Socializing Older Dogs
Because older dogs have outgrown the sensitive socialization periods of puppyhood, socializing older dogs takes longer and requires more effort. Dogs may also benefit from the help of a professional dog trainer in these cases. As with all training, slow and gentle exposure to new experiences, environments, people, and other pets is key. Too fast an introduction can cause stress and anxiety, potentially causing trauma for the dog, which will set him back even further.
A dog walker is a great way to expose an older dog to new experiences and people gently. Setting up a dog walker to come to your home when you’re there is a gentle way to expose your pet while personally guiding the interaction. Once comfortable, the dog will welcome the dog walker, who is no longer a stranger, by himself.
Dogs that have been recently adopted also benefit from a professional dog walker. Dog walkers acclimatize them to safe and respectful interactions in their new home.
Before socializing your dog, no matter her age, prepare yourself with tips and tricks from positive dog trainers and organizations. Considering reading Karen Pryor Clicker Training‘s articles to learn more about proper introductions, what not to do, etc.