Dogs are naturally sociable pack animals, but a dog who’s nervous or even stand-offish around other dogs isn’t a bad dog. They’re probably just not used to being around a large number of dogs or have doubts about their role in a specific situation. Training a dog to be relaxed and confident in social situations is easiest when your dog is a puppy. Swifto has compiled some quick tips that will help a dog of any age.
1) Scan the park before you enter. If a group of dogs is heatedly playing at the entrance, wait until they break up. It’s best to get a calm, smooth start when walking into a dog run, or other group situation. If your dog gets overwhelmed immediately, they won’t enjoy their time socializing.
2) Watch what your dog is doing and pay attention to his play style. If he becomes too crazy and excited, tell him to sit for a moment. Heated play can quickly turn into a fight.
3) Get involved if the situation calls for help. Dogs should not always be allowed to work out their own problems. Don’t let your dog be bullied by others.
4) Try to coordinate play dates with people and dogs he’s comfortable with. A special friend for your dog can often greatly improve his social skills. This is also a calm enough environment to give food rewards to your dog and their friend for good socialization.
5) Don’t stand in the same location. Walk around and encourage your dog to pay attention to your whereabouts.
6) Don’t let other people tell you what’s best. Become familiar with your own dog’s responses and movements.
7) Don’t bring your own dog’s toys to the park. Resource guarding can often arise in a group situation.
8) Determine whether your dog is getting into social trouble because they’re too dominant or too submissive. Once you’ve decided, talk to your veterinarian or research dog dominance and submission.
9) Try to make your dog more comfortable at home. Investigate Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P.), buy a dog bed and more toys, or try to crate train your dog.
10) Don’t reward your dog if they’re very nervous. Even though you may feel bad for putting your dog in an overwhelming social situation, your dog may start to act overwrought on purpose if they associate dramatic behavior with getting food. Turning away from an unpredictable situation and appeasing your dog with physical comfort are the best courses of action.