How to Socialize Your Older Dog


It’s best to have your pets socialized while they are young, exposing them to as many new experiences as they can before reaching 3 months. However, some dogs weren’t able to go through the same experience, so they end up not being properly socialized.

It can come from neglect by their previous owners, or there were circumstances beyond your control that prevented you from properly socializing your dog. Either way, you can still expose your older dog to new experiences to have them feel confident.

Is Your Dog Socialized?

Dog socialization is defined as the practice of acclimating a dog to other pets and people so they can behave better when faced with different people. They will feel comfortable being around others and in other kinds of situations, feeling more confident and friendly.

If your dog isn’t socialized, he may end up jumping on people, nipping at children, or act aggressively towards other animals. These are the signs that indicate your dog isn’t socialized well:

  • He is fearful or aggressive when with new pets or people
  • He backs up or raises his hair when someone approaches
  • He doesn’t like walks or feels nervous
  • He is shy around other people and animals
  • He is overly excitable to the point it causes some anxiety in people and animals

How to Socialize Your Older Dog

Not to worry, as you can still socialize your adult dog, even if it is a bit more challenging compared to socializing a puppy. Here are ways to do so:

  • Take him on walks to expose your older dog to new sights, smells, sounds, and strangers. It can also help him burn off the nervous energy, so don’t tug on his harness or scold him, allow him to explore, and distract him with his favorite toy or treats when he feels fearful. Make sure to bring his pet water bottle from PetSwag to keep him hydrated!
  • Let him work up the courage to take him to the dog park. Walk your dog only around the dog park, letting him watch the other dogs from afar. Gradually, work his way up and let him sniff the fence and grass, then eventually, the other dogs.
  • Don’t introduce all your family and friends at once. Introduce your dog to your loved ones one at a time, offering your dog a treat every time he meets someone new. You can also have your loved ones give him a treat or his favorite toy to have him positively associate the person with his favorite things.
  • If your dog feels frightened or shows aggressiveness, do NOT draw attention to how he behaves. Ignore the behavior and stay calm, acting normal to let him know he shouldn’t be afraid of anything.
  • Use a muzzle and no pull dog harness to prevent them from unfortunate incidents in case your dog becomes aggressive

Wrapping It Up

Socializing an older dog will take time but is worth the effort in the long run. Just be patient with your dog and you will see his confidence and happiness grow with other people and pets!

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