So yesterday I discussed the importance and how to socialize a puppy under 12 weeks of age. Obviously, dogs don’t stop learning after 12 weeks of age and you should still continue to socialize them. However, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind.
After 12 weeks of age you should continue to socialize your puppy as previously discussed. However, you should also start to work on basic manners as well. Basic manners like sit, down, come, stay and loose leash walking are great. However, you’ll also want to introduce some impulse control like the On/Off Game, Mother May I?, Go to Mat, and Protocol for Relaxation. These behaviors will help you to ensure that you have a good canine citizen in your home. All of these behaviors also provide a great foundation for preventing and managing unwanted behaviors down the road.
Adult dogs, ages 1.5 years and up (depending on breed and personality), are becoming what is considered socially mature. This means their tastes in behavior are changing. Think of an aged wine. By all means continue to let them meet new people and new dogs and experience new experiences. However, if your dog shows you they are uncomfortable in a situation, it’s time to contact a trainer for some further training strategies.
Many dogs around the 1.5 year to 3 year age group decide they no longer want to play like puppies. They don’t want to be tousled around or roughed up by rude “rug rats”. Because of this they may behave aloof towards youngsters, don’t force an interaction, there is a reason they are avoiding each other. If a puppy gets out of hand your adult dog might tell the youngster “no” by lifting a lip, growling, barking, snapping, or even biting (if your dog is attacking and causing physical injury – stop socializing and contact a trainer right away!) . I highly recommend you take these behaviors as signs it’s time for you to give your dog a break. You can do this either by removing him or removing the puppy depending on the situation. Do not get angry! Growling is Good.
Bottom line, continue to socialize your dog if it benefits your dog mentally. If your dog is becoming aggressive it’s time to reevaluate. It’s okay for dogs to not be dog park dogs. Dog parks are an aquired taste. It is also okay if your dog doesn’t enjoy crowds, most don’t anyway, leave him at home. However, make sure he continues to have good experiences in social situations and learn to enjoy what he enjoys.