If you read Puppy Essentials: Play, Socialization, and Desensitizing then you have a good understanding of how puppies and dogs develop socially. Using a dog park to socialize your dog is a huge no-no! It is a terrible way to teach socialization to your dog. It can cause social anxiety, teaches poor socialization behavior, and can lead to dog fights. If you are looking to socialize your pup, use this list of better options than the dog park. After you have a well rounded and confident dog, then use the dog park at your discretion.
One On One Playdates
One of the greatest ways to socialize your pup because it is the most controlled you can get! Reach out to someone with a dog that also needs some socializing and schedule an individual playdate. Make sure to start out with the proper way to introduce your dogs if either pup is showing signs of nervousness or it is their first time meeting.
Small Group Playdates
If you know of a small group of dogs that are doing well with socializing, schedule a get-together with everyone! Having multiple dogs around will teach the dogs to interact with more than one dog at once. As a dog parent, you can also learn what kinda play style your dog is most comfortable with.
Doggie Day Care
Signing your dog up for doggie day care once a week can be beneficial for them. Most doggie day cares are dog savvy and will divide dogs up by play style and energy level. This way the dogs socialize in a controlled and comfortable setting. Don’t be afraid to ask your local doggie day care all sorts of questions before booking! Most times, the staff appreciate the questions and that helps them know you are a careful dog owner!
Pet Friendly Retail Establishment
Did you know that there is a website that will let you know what establishments in your area are dog friendly? It is called Bring Fido. Take a look at it and bring your dog with you the next time you’re out doing errands. If you run into another dog, ask the owner if the two pooches can meet. This helps socialize dogs in different settings and teaches them to say, “hi” on leash.
Taking your dog on a hiking trail can not only help socialize them but work their nose and exercise their mind. Grab their harness and sturdy leash and hit up a local trail! If you happen to see another hiking pupper, ask the owner if they can greet each other quickly. Another great way to get your dog used to greeting on leash and being familiar with dogs in that setting.
Visit Your Veterinarian
Hear me out! If you happen to be near your veterinarian and you have your dog with you, stop in and have them say “hi” to everyone. This way your dog will not always associate being at the veterinarian and being poked or sick. Plus, if there is a healthy dog in the waiting room you can ask the owner if they can meet! Veterinarian workers love seeing their clients, expected and unexpectedly! You’ll both agree that is better options than a dog park.
Grab A Bite To Eat At A Dog Friendly Restaurant
Every city has some restaurants that are dog friendly in their outdoor seating area. For one date night, bring your pup and enjoy dinner out of the patio with them! If you happen to see another dining doggie, ask the owner if they can say hello! I bet you will be your server’s favorite client of the night as well!
Start A Dog Sitting Business
What is a better way to socialize your dog in a controlled setting that you control than this? Plus you can make money doing so! There are many websites where you can advertise your business and start watching dogs for some extra cash, like Rover. If you work at that business hard enough, you can even be like me. Rover Dog Sitting: How This 28 Year Old Made Over $20,000 With Her Side Hustle.
Dog Treadmill Business
The newest thing in the dog world is treadmill businesses. This is a self powered device dogs can run on to exert some energy. This can be a great socializing tool because they can run right next to other dogs. They can learn social cues while burning so many calories! Such better options than a dog park for running and socializing!
Circling back to that hiking trail that was talked about earlier, but this time make it a party! There are lot of resources online where dog owners can reach out and invite other dog owners to help socialize. One way would be scheduling a pack walk. Everyone can hike together, sniffing and walking along. Such a nice controlled way to socialize!
Socializing your dog in a controlled setting while saving a life! That is the best way to help socialize your pup and another! Fostering is mostly a short term event so you can help socialize a dog who is learning the good life and teaching your dog socialization and how to share their home. If you think fostering may be for you, check out What To Consider When Deciding To Foster.
If you are a dog owner that may need a little guidance in socializing your dog, do not be ashamed. There are hundreds of dog owners that reach out to trainers to help socialize their dog. Especially if their dog has been a victim to an attack or abused. Using a dog trainer will help properly socialize your dog with no worrying. This is such a great way because you can take what you learned with your dog trainer and teach others what the dog body language means and the proper ways to socialize dogs.