Socialising adult dogs may seem like a daunting task as some full-grown pooches are set in their ways. However, all hope is not lost. There are many ways to help unsocialised adult dogs gain more confidence in themselves and feel comfortable exploring the world around them.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #1
Take things slowly.
Dog owners need to introduce new social situations to their adult dogs one at a time. Do not rush your furry pal. He is still getting used to various environments, and it will only hinder his training progress and reinforce his fears.
Begin by listing down all the things your adult dog is scared of. Start with the least scary situation for him and slowly work your way up the list.
Mind that completely socialising an older dog often takes several weeks or months to achieve, so your patience plays a big role in achieving a good outcome.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #2
Keep your emotions in check.
Socialising adult dogs can be stressful, but as much as possible, rein in your emotions. Pooches can easily detect the anxiety or nervousness of their owners, and it will contribute to increasing their feelings of distress.
Handle your furry pal’s socialisation dog training with calmness and confidence. Whenever he starts showing fear and anxiousness, comforting him may seem like the best solution; however, the truth is the opposite.
Coddling your furry friend will only teach him that there is a reason to be scared. So instead of fretting over him, remain calm and ignore your pooch’s anxious behavior. By staying calm and collected, you are teaching him that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #3
Keep an eye on your dog’s body language.
Socialising older dogs also involves paying close attention to their comfort levels. Mind the slight changes of their posture or behavior such as frequent whining, yawning lip-licking. These are signs that they feel unsafe or tense and their mind and body are about to go in “fight-or-flight” mode.
If thescenarios occurs, solve the dilemma by removing your dog from the uncomfortable situation. When he has fully calmed down, then you can gradually increase the intensity level of his exposure again.
Do not feel discouraged if you have to take a few steps backward during socialization training of older dogs. It is a necessary part of the process that will help them gain better training progress.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #4
Do not forget positive reinforcement.
Always keep treats with you when socialising with an older dog. Opt for high-value rewards as they work better in helping your pooch associate his trigger with a positive experience. These rewards could come in a form of his favorite food, toy, or game.
Timing is the key to making rewards an effective tool in your adult dog’s socialisation training. Only offer them after the trigger appears. If you use rewards too soon, it can increase your dog’s hyperawareness of his surroundings, which can cause more reactivity.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #5
Introduce your dog first to people you know.
When socialising adult dogs with people, start with friends and family. Only invite at least 1–2 people during this process to avoid overwhelming your furry friend.
Host the introduction in an area where he feels the most comfortable such as the backyard or living room. Make sure that your dog is on a loose leash of no more than 6 feet in case he becomes aggressive or attempts to run away.
Also, remind guests that they should keep their distance to avoid scaring your pooch. At least 8 feet away will do.
Do not force your pooch to approach the guests. Wait for him to make the first move. If he does not approach them, let your guests toss treats to him.
This will help in making your pooch understand that they mean no harm, therefore creating a positive experience. Repeat this at least 3–4 times in a row during each training session.
There will be times when your dog will shy away from the guests. If this happens, do not force him to interact. Try again another time instead. Opt for times when your pooch is in a relaxed or playful mood.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #6
Take your pooch on daily walks at the right time of the day.
Regular walks create good opportunities to introduce older dogs to new sights, sounds, and people. However, avoid peak times of the day where everyone is out and about as this can be too much for your pet to handle.
Calmer periods of the day are the better option for socialising adult dogs outdoors. There is less noise from vehicles and foot traffic, which lessens their chances of becoming reactive.
When walking your dog, keep him leashed and distanced from triggers. It allows him to gradually immerse in his surroundings with a lower risk of getting frightened.
In case your pooch becomes distressed, never scold or tug his leash since this will create a negative experience. Help your furry pal calm down by walking him away from the stressful situation.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #7
Slowly acclimate your furry pal to the dog park.
Dogs parks are an ideal place for unsocialized adult dogs to interact with other dogs and people. However, avoid the mistake of taking your furry pal inside right away.
Otherwise, he will get bombarded with overwhelming scents and noises from other pooches, which may trigger a panic attack.
One of the best approaches is to walk your pooch around the dog park. Let him observe his fellow canines from a comfortable distance. If he does not show any signs of fear or aggression, bring him close to the fence and allow him to interact with other dogs.
For every friendly interaction that happens, hand a treat to your dog as a reward.
Consider bringing a small portion of dry dog food with you during this training process. It is a quick distraction for other dogs whenever your pet needs breathing space. Scatter the dog food on the ground and move your dog away while other pooches are busy eating.
Socialising Adult Dogs Tip #8
Ask for professional help when things get tough.
Training adult dogs that are past their socialisation period is not a walk in the park. Increase your chance of success by working with professional dog trainers or canine behavior experts.
They can help determine what behavioral issues your adult dog needs to work on first, and whether or not he needs a doggie daycare to enhance his socialization skill.
Consulting a professional makes it easier for you to formulate the right socialisation training plan for your adult dog.
Face Reality Over Expected Ideal Outcomes
Socialisation training does not turn adult dogs into social butterflies that can handle all types of situations, pets, or people. Pooches do not have to love everything or everybody.
The main goal of socialisation training in adult dogs is to make them feel confident and safe enough to handle most of the situations and people they encounter throughout their lives.