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Why Socializing Your Dog is Key | Dog Walker Maitland, FL

Walk’n Dogs-Dog Walking Services- Winter Park, Maitland, Baldwin Park, College Park

Early Dog Socialization

If you have ever adopted a puppy, you may have read somewhere or heard from another dog owner that socializing them is key -and they are right. Most experts heed socialization as one of the first critical practices needed for raising a healthy, respectful and confident puppy. Puppies rely on their owners to steer them in the right direction, especially when they are young and in the beginning stages of development. It can be detrimental to their development if socialization is not introduced at a young age and can put limits on you and your dog’s life.

Age Significance

Puppies, just like babies, go and grow through different developmental periods. From three weeks to about three months is the time frame when your puppy should be undergoing the most in dog socialization. This practice during this time period will provide long-term benefits for your dog in regards to their communal behavior. It is vital that you expose your pup to as many welcoming dogs, people and situations as possible, completely avoiding any type of shortcuts. These situations include:

1. Loud noises
2. Large groups of people
3. FRIENDLY dogs
4. Frequent foot traffic
5. Frequent walks
6. Vehicles
7. Stairs/Steps
8. Pool/Water

During this period your pup will determine who or what they fear, who or what they love and who or what to avoid all together. The more variety of environments that you subject your dog to, the less uncommon or stressful these situations become. This will give your puppy more confidence to go about life with a carefree attitude, in turn allowing you to take your dog essentially anywhere without an issue. As far as introducing your pup to the dog park at an early age, it is recommended that you wait and do it in baby steps. It is important to hold off until your pup has gained confidence and experience before you throw them into a large group of dogs; It can be quite overwhelming to them.

Training and Socialization Benefits

Here at Walk’n Dogs, we believe that dogs who are socialized early and trained using positive reinforcement techniques have less behavioral problems. This technique encourages a relationship and bonding session between dog and owner which ensures trust, confidence and respect from both parties. A dog looks to their owner for guidance and support when they encounter a situation that is foreign or uncomfortable to them. Positive reinforcement does this by adding something to the equation to increase your pets behavior. This will also help in lowering your pup’s uncertainty. Some examples of positive reinforcement include:

1. Praise
2. Play
3. Petting
4. Reward (treats)

An example of a positive reinforcement situation would be to first, command your dog to sit, second, give him/her a treat when they do it and third, reiterate a positive word like “good boy/girl”. By doing this, you are increasing the frequency of positive behavior and rewarding your dog when they do it. One of the biggest advantages of positive reinforcement is that any dog, no matter what age can respond quickly and well.

Negatives of Unsocialized Pets

Puppies who do not participate in social habits or training early on are more likely to succumb to behavioral issues. This also puts the dog at a higher risk of abandonment or renouncement. Problematic behaviors can manifest very quickly in dogs who have no social skills, and some of these negative behaviors include:

1. General Fearfulness
2. Reactive to people or dogs
3. Nervousness
4. Aggression
5. Paralyzing Anxiety
6. Scared of any Escapade
7. Difficult to handle in everyday situations (baths, feeding, walking)
8. Sensitive to Sound

These examples are why EARLY socialization is key in raising a healthy and happy pet. The effects of positive reinforcement and socialization will last a lifetime and make for a fun life for the both of you. You can opt for a well ran puppy socialization class if you feel you cannot do it yourself, as well as make a checklist of different social activities your pup can be introduced to. Keep in mind that it is not the quantity of experiences needed to help your pet, but the quality of every interaction that makes the difference.

About Walk’n Dogs – A Dog Walking Company | Winter Park, FL

Rachel has been working in the Pet Care Industry for the last few years and started her career in a local Canine Health & Fitness Center that also incorporated canine hydrotherapy, dog daycare & boarding. While working at Rocky’s Retreat, under the previous ownership of Sherri Cappabianca and Toby Gass, Rachel became certified in canine hydrotherapy and they taught Rachel everything she knows about canine care, hydrotherapy, health and fitness.

Rachel is currently the owner/founder of Dip’n Dogs Canine Hydrotherapy and Walk’n Dogs – A Dog Walking Service in the Orlando, FL area. Dip’n Dogs provides water therapy for dogs with any orthopedic condition, degenerative disease, injury or obesity. Walk’n Dogs provides mobile in-home visits for dog walking. Each walk is customized to fit each dog and their needs. All walks take place at your home, in your neighborhood. Rachel caters to the Winter Park, Baldwin Park, Maitland and Casselberry areas.

Rachel is also the owner and dog mom to her two beagles, Leo and Lola.

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