Mingling may be natural to humans, but it can be unfamiliar territory for our canine companions. Dogs are pack animals and live according to a hierarchy, but mingling with strange dogs can be a scary experience. Socialize your dog often to make it much more enjoyable for her.
Keep your dog on a leash while she mingles with other dogs. It may seem a little cumbersome, but the leash allows you a measure of control, and gives the puppy a sense of security. Pick a simple buckle collar and flat leash to keep both you, and the dog, comfortable.
Introduce your dog to other dogs as soon as she’s had all her shots. Puppies socialize within their own litter, but many have no interaction with other dogs after weaning. Sign your puppy up for a basic obedience class and let her mingle with other dogs in a safe class setting.
Schedule a puppy play date with a dog-loving friend. Take the dogs to a neutral place, such as a park, and ask your dog to sit a few feet away from the other dog. Give them time to get used to each other, and take a few steps closer to the other dog. Allow the dogs to greet each other, and stand quietly as they sniff around. Leave the dogs alone as they interact, even if they growl a little. Vocalization is a normal part of establishing a pecking order.
Take your dog on frequent trips to the dog park. Most dog parks have a double-gated safety area to prevent escapes and allow owners to remove leashes. Read the rules carefully before entering the gate, and turn your dog loose after you’ve walked into the safety area. Find a quiet place to sit, and let your dog sniff and explore. If he starts to nip at or hump other dogs, call him back to you. Many dogs will display some form of dominant behavior in a group setting, and frequent mingling will reduce the occurrence of these incidents.
- Keep your dog's toys at home during socialization events. Dogs are often possessive over their toys, and this is detrimental to the socialization process.
- Never take your dog to socialize unless he is fully vaccinated. Many illnesses are highly contagious, and vaccinations will keep your dog safe as he mingles with other dogs.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.