It is indeed possible to socialize an older dog, even if it requires a little more time and patience.
Ideally, socialization should take place during the first 12 months of a puppy’s life. This is the critical period for learning behaviors and establishing good habits. However, don’t panic if you have a dog that missed the mark when he was young. There is still hope for your senior dog!
What is socialization?
Socialization involves teaching a dog to remain calm around new people, new pets, and new surroundings. This is a very important process for your dog to feel safe in a new environment. Likewise, it is an essential part of teaching your dog to behave calmly around others.
It can be a little harder to socialize an older dog for the same reason that it can be harder to teach them new tricks. Sometimes it takes a little more time and patience to change old habits. This is something you may need to consider if you are adopting an animal from an abandoned animal shelter.
Without proper socialization, dogs can become nervous, withdrawn, or even aggressive. Investing time in socialization is therefore crucial, whether you have a new puppy or an older rescue dog.
Patience, consistency, and an open mind are key to teaching your senior dog good social behavior. Remember: a dog senses your mood, so keep things nice and relaxed!
6 tips for socializing a senior dog
- Learn dog body language yourself: You can get your dog out of any stressful or dangerous situation if you know his body language. Dog body language can be very subtle, so take the time to familiarize yourself with it.
- Hosting guests in your home is a safe and effective way to get your dog used to new humans. Start in your home, where he is most comfortable, and let your dog take the first step. You could even arm your visitors with a pouch of treats.
- Regular Walks: Walks get your dog used to new places, new smells, and new noises. Be sure to walk your dog daily and try out different parks and trails. If you can’t walk your dog every day, hire a dog walker
- Meeting new dogs: When your dog is on a walk, chances are he will meet other dogs. Make sure, however, to avoid any dangerous situation for your dog that will provoke aggression. Don’t rush your dog or force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.
- Training: Managing your dog’s behavior can be easier with solid obedience training. For example, a dog that comes back easily when called and good walking behavior can make it easier to introduce your dog to new situations. You may even consider consulting a professional trainer if your dog is particularly nervous when moving around.
- Dog sitter: Get your dog used to new people by bringing in a trusted sitter during the day. They can take your dog for a walk or just keep him company when you’re at work. Be sure to meet before accepting a booking.