Dogs are commonly regarded as “men’s best friends” and are important companions for dog owners and their families. However, many dog owners fail to realize the need for dogs to socialize with not just their owners, but other people and other dogs too.
Why is socialization so important?
Many scientific researches have been conducted on dogs and the effects of socialization, and they have revealed the same results: socialization among dogs at a young age will lead to more benefits for dogs in terms of behaviour and adaptability in the future.
One notable study conducted in 1959 among guide dogs revealed that guide dog puppies that have not undergone proper socialization have a higher chance of failing their guide dog training upon reaching adulthood.
On the other hand, a 2017 study among guide dog puppies revealed that puppies that have received early socialization were “less likely to have separation-related behaviour” and “general anxiety”.
Overall, many other studies have also reached similar results, concluding that puppies tend to exhibit negative behaviour if they have not been socialized, while those that have been socialized tend to have lesser of such behaviour and are better adapted to humans and other dogs.
So how should I socialize my dog?
Having known the importance of dog socialization, the next question for dog owners will be: how do I go about doing it?
One important thing to note is that dog socialization does not just entail interactions with humans and other dogs. Just like nurturing and socializing a young child, puppies need to come into contact with not just a wide variety of dogs and humans, but also different objects, places and surfaces. This is to allow for dogs to have better adaptability to things that may seem unfamiliar to them.
For example, dogs ought to encounter humans of different genders, ages and even different skin tones. The same applies to encountering other dogs of different varieties (ages, sizes, etc.). Different places, surfaces and experiences such as going to the vet, car rides, walking on wooden floors and encountering vacuum cleaners might seem trivial, but are also important for dog socialization.
However, do note that dog socialization is not just for puppies, but also for dogs of all ages, because it’s never too late for socialization. Also, it is important that socialization should be done with consideration for a dog’s safety and well being. Every experience should be made positive and safe, preferably with words of encouragement, treats, and ensuring that other dogs and humans interacting with your dog are not aggressive and/or causing your dog anxiety. It is also important to introduce such new experiences slowly, rather than exposing your dog to too many things at once and making them feel overwhelmed. Furthermore, puppies should not be exposed to other dogs and new places before important vaccinations so as to prevent the risk of your puppy falling sick.
Okay. So where should I socialize my dog?
At Uncle Khoe’s, our shelter dogs are able to socialize during their weekly pack walks. However even if you do not have other dogs, there are still many places in Singapore that provide great opportunities for pet dogs to socialize with other dogs and human beings!
Some examples of such places are:
- Beaches and parks for dog walks
- Dog-friendly cafes and restaurants
- Dog training sessions
- Dog daycare centers
- Certain organized events such as the annual Pet Expo in Singapore, or even pet events and gatherings organized by your community centers!
- The comfort of your own home!
In Singapore, dog owners and enthusiasts are also actively organizing dog gatherings on social media through Facebook groups and the like. These gatherings are often organized based on dog breeds. Here’s an example of an adorable corgi gathering that just occured in December! Such outings also serve as a great way for your dog to make both new fur-friends and human friends.
Overall, we hope that this post provides more insight as to the importance of dog socialization. Other than caring for your dog’s physical health, psychological well being is very important too, and the best way to start caring for dogs psychologically is none other than providing them with proper socialization 🙂