Socialization Guide

Two happy dogs at an Edmonton Area kennel

Every dog owner wants to raise a well-adjusted, happy, and confident dog. Socialization is key to this process; it introduces and accustoms your dog to other animals, people, experiences, sounds, and exciting stimuli. Experiences such as these will help your dog put their best paw forward and lets them enjoy a rich and rewarding life.


What Exactly Does “Socialization” Mean?


So what is socialization, and why is it so important? Socialization doesn`t just start and end by putting dogs together in a room and allowing them to play. It is a lifelong process that includes any un-isolated activity your dog does. It can range from playing with other animals, to properly interacting with people and children, to being able to calmly hear loud trucks pass by. As a dog-owner, you will constantly have opportunities to expose your dog to new situations and build on their socializing skill set everyday.


Benefits of Socialization


The benefits of healthy dog socialization are numerous:


  1. Socializing means learning to learn. Well-socialized dogs can better handle unfamiliar situations and experiences.
  2. Your dog becomes confident, secure, and generally has less stress.
  3. Dogs begin to better read other dog’s body language, allowing them to enjoy playtime more and more.
  4. Increased self-awareness means your dog becomes gentler and more sensitive around children.
  5. Housebreaking your dog gets easier and easier.
  6. Lack of aggression, biting, and nipping.
  7. Helps to tame jumping and over-excitement.


Companionship is critical to the well-being of your pet, and socialization is the key to giving your dog the necessary skills he or she needs to enjoy this companionship throughout their life.


How to Better Socialize Your Dog


Socialization is a process, and as such there are many ways that you can improve the way your dogs gets socialized. Some of the recommendations we’ve developed are:


  1. Be the alpha.  Dogs want to be led by a pack leader, and you allow your dog to relax and enjoy socializing if he or she knows they have an alpha pack leader they can look to when they are unsure. When you’re the alpha, your dog doesn’t need to fulfill that role and can just focus on fun and play. Letting your dog be the pack leader can further lead to bad habits and defensive or aggressive behavior.
  2. Start early. Recommendations from veterinarians vary, but the range generally falls within 4-12 weeks to start socializing your puppy. Be cautious with starting too early though, as you want to ensure your pup is properly vaccinated before introducing them to other dogs.
  3. Start slow. It can be overwhelming for puppies or newly socialized dogs to be put into a pack situation, which can then lead to negative associations with socializing. One-on-one play dates in safe and controlled environments helps build your dog’s initial skillset.
  4. Positive reinforcement. Reward your dog when he or she does something correct: praise, play, treat, or pet.
  5. Use negative reinforcement appropriately. Use strict and consistent language to help correct any bad behavior. If that fails, then simply remove your dog from play situations if he or she continues to behave inappropriately. Never hit your dog – it is unproductive and your dog begins associating negativity and fear from socializing.
  6. Use your dog’s name consistently. Teach your dog that his or her name means “pay attention and look at me.” Reward your dog enthusiastically with pets or a treat when they come to you. Avoid using your dog’s name in an angry tone to reprimand them as you want your dog to associate their name with good things.
  7. Be patient. Again, socialization is a process and not every dog will learn as fast as other dogs. Enjoy the experience of socializing with your dog and enjoy the daily improvements you will see in your dog’s behavior as you socialize them more and more.


How Sturgeon County Kennels Can Help


Sturgeon County Kennels understands the importance of doing socialization right. We can help be a part of your dog’s socialization process in two main ways:


Dog Boarding Servicess


Dogs staying at Sturgeon County Kennels will have many opportunities to socialize with other dogs. We feature 4 play areas, and we can pick and choose dogs of similar size, temperament, and age to socialize together. Depending on the dogs, group sizes can range from 2 dogs to 10! The staff at Sturgeon County Kennels are trained to socialize dogs and we have many years of experience in choosing which dogs to socialize together. We also constantly supervise the dogs for maximum safety. You can rest easy knowing that your dog is getting all the benefits of socialization in a safe and secure environment.


Take a look at our first-time visitor’s guide for more information about kenneling your dog.


Doggy Day Care


Sturgeon County Kennels also offers doggy day care to customers in Sturgeon County, the Edmonton area, and beyond. Bring your dog for the day and we will socialize him or her with the other dogs at the kennel. This is a great way for your dog to spend the day while you are at work, or for something new to do on the weekend. We almost always have great dogs at the kennel to play and socialize with; give us a call today to book an appointment!

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