When you think of a properly socialized dog, you think of a canine companion who is comfortable around both people and dogs, but can still focus on their owners. All we really want is for our dogs to like each other and to listen when we’re talking to them. Below are some ways to make that happen.
Enroll your dog in a group class. Not a class that focuses on play or dog-to-dog interaction, but a basic obedience class. You want your dog to focus on you in the presence of other dogs first, instead of thinking that every dog is their playmate. While your trainer is teaching you the basics, your dog is learning that you’re more exciting than other dogs and are the dispenser of all things good (i.e., treats).
Let your dog participate in controlled and friendly play. If you have a friend or family member with an appropriate dog, it’s time to buy them beer and have them over to hang out for a half hour. Keep your playgroup small, with two or three dogs at the most. Remember to break up play at least every 5 minutes, to help keep your dog focused on you.
If you ever feel uncomfortable with the play you are seeing, it’s okay to break them up. You can give them a little while to calm down, or you can choose to leave. Your gut is more reliable than you think. There is a fantastic app by Sue Sternberg about dog play; it will help you identify appropriate and non-appropriate behaviors, and when to break up play if you aren’t sure.
There are a ton of other tips and tricks to try. Call a local trainer if you are looking for more options, and keep reading Figo’s blog for further dog training advice!
Jaime Migdal, CPDT KA, is the founder and CEO of Fetchfind, a talent recruitment and services organization dedicated to the pet industry.