6 Ways to Teach a Senior Dog to Socialize
By Victoria Schade
Dog socialization isn’t just for puppies. Perhaps you’ve opened your heart and home to a senior rescue and you want him to enjoy all that life has to offer. Or maybe you’ve decided that your beloved but sedentary older pooch needs to get out and have some adventures.
Tackling socialization with dogs who are well past the formative stage of development requires a gentle touch and patience, since older dogs have a well-established pattern of likes and dislikes. But much like puppy socialization, it’s important to remember that your senior sets the pace.
That means that if he opts to hang back from unfamiliar people, or doesn’t want to immediately interact with other dogs, you shouldn’t push him. Forcing your dog into a scenario where he feels uncomfortable or overwhelmed can backfire and derail your dog socialization goals.
Keep in mind that attempting to socialize a dog with longstanding reactivity to other dogs or people requires a more choreographed approach and the help of a positive trainer and/or a veterinarian who specializes in behavioral medicine.
The following tips are geared toward how to socialize an older dog who is appropriate with others, but might need some extra support as he brushes up on his socialization skills.