Socializing an Older Dog

April 30th is Adopt A Shelter Dog Day! Dogs end up in shelters for a variety of reasons, none of which are really their fault. Unfortunately, they also sometimes come from bad circumstances. It’s not uncommon for shelter dogs to be wary, skittish, or even aggressive in new situations. Sometimes this is because of things that happened to them, but in other cases, it’s because they weren’t properly socialized as puppies. You can still socialize an older dog, though it will take some time and effort. A London, ON vet offers some tips on this below.

Be Realistic

Fido will probably never be that happy, joyful pooch that wants to be everybody’s best friend. He may not even like the dog park. That’s perfectly fine! You don’t want to force your canine buddy to be something he’s not. The key is to just get him to a point where he is calm, comfortable, and safe.

Start Small

When socializing puppies, you want to expose them to as many people, places, and things as you can, in a fairly short amount of time. With adult dogs, you need to go more slowly. Otherwise, you might overwhelm your four-legged friend. Start with micro goals. Explore one new place a week, and let Fido meet your closest friends and family members.

Don’t Set An End Point

Normally, the socialization window starts to close when puppies are around 12 weeks. This is about the age where Fido has formed his opinion of the world, for better or worse. With an adult dog, you don’t really have a time frame. It will likely be an ongoing process. You want to think in terms of the journey as much as the destination.

Let Fido Make Friends

Other dogs can actually be your best allies in this. If you have friends and family members with friendly, well-behaved pooches, introduce them to Fido. Or, better yet, set up a doggy playdate on neutral ground. Our canine pals naturally learn by observing one another. It may do your pooch a world of good to see how happy and playful your brother’s goofy Golden Retriever is.

Seek Help

Socialization really is very important. If you’re unsure of what to do, or if Fido is extremely uneasy, don’t be afraid to consult a professional.

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