There is a wealth of evidence that socialization outside of the home is beneficial for almost every healthy dog. If you have a pet that struggles with anxiety, aggression, or extreme fearfulness, it’s best to consult with your vet and/or a trainer before embarking on a plan to socialize your dog. Assuming your dog is healthy and hasn’t displayed any behavioral issues though, there are a variety of important benefits to be gained by spending time with and around other dogs.
- Playing with other dogs provides a fantastic workout.
No matter how much fun you and your dog have during playtime at home, the dog-on-dog play offers a type of vigorous exercise that we can’t replicate. Anyone who’s ever been to a dog park can verify that! Playing as part of a pack provides a level of mental and physical stimulation that is guaranteed to tire your pup out in the best possible way. Even better? Dogs have their own language of sounds, gestures, and social cues that make sure they can let the group know when they need a break—cues we may struggle to understand.
- Social playtime helps your dog develop good manners.
Speaking of dog social cues, time spent playing and interacting with other pups makes sure your dog learns the varied language of how dogs communicate. From knowing when to back off to find the right way to express excitement or affection, these cues are key to your dog’s behavioural development. Learning proper “dog manners” is important for positive dog-on-dog interactions whether playing at the dog park or simply encountering another pup while out on a walk.
- Socialization builds confidence and comfort with the new and unexpected.
Running and playing with their friends is fun for your dog, but that’s not the only part of a play date that’s valuable. Learning to explore and adapt to new places, smells, sounds, and types of stimulation are all part of a play experience out of the house. And, while new spaces may create initial hesitation, the enticement of playtime often quickly overcomes that uncertainty. As an added benefit, finding their place in a pack is a huge confidence booster for dogs who might usually be shy. Finally, teaching your pup that leaving the house can mean hours of fun is a great way to make your dog better at handling a host of otherwise stressful situations—from travelling to grooming to vet visits.
- A happy and well-adjusted pup is a healthy pup.
Living in a city, it’s pretty much guaranteed your dog will interact with new places, people, and dogs on a regular basis. As noted above, regular socialization can help make these new situations less frightening and stressful for your pup, which has big health benefits. Dogs who experience higher levels of stress and anxiety may trigger their bodies’ fight-or-flight systems on a more frequent basis. While these response systems are developed to keep animals safe in the wild, flooding the body with stress hormones too often can lead to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, kidney problems, and immune suppression.