Especially for our dogs at times.
First of all, I owe a number of people who have sent me guest posts a big apology. I have been very lax in publishing them in this place. Frankly, I don’t know where the time goes and on top of that I seem to get so easily distracted by stuff!
Then I go and publish a wonderful guest post that has come in after some of the other great posts that have been sent to me.
As is the case with this very interesting guest essay sent to me by Jenny Nolan.
Trust you will forgive me!
How to Introduce Your Dog to Noisy and Crowded Environments
by Jenny Nolan.
Over the course of their lifetime, dogs whether they ultimately like it or not will have to experience busy and potentially noisy environments they may not always feel comfortable in.
Just like us, our pets sometimes have to brave situations or scenarios they would prefer to avoid but when it comes to introducing your dog to busy and noisy surroundings you can do so in such a way that can help even the most anxious of pets.
Although in day to day life it is straightforward enough to keep your dog in environments they feel settled within, sometimes this isn’t always the case and you need to take your dog with you when visiting public places that can be crowded and sometimes overbearing. Some common examples include visits to your groomers and even the vets. These environments also have the added disadvantage of potentially unnerving your dog’s in other ways particularly if they are uncomfortable being handled by strangers.
Introducing your dog to crowded and loud environments covers two key aspects of teaching your dog about the world around them.
These two areas of your dog’s development are known as socialization, which is concerned with how they learn to interact with other animals and humans they come into contact with and habituation, how they learn about new environments and ultimately how they behave in certain situations.
Lack of development in these two main areas can lead to behavioral difficulties stemming from a number of issues, perhaps because your pet is threatened by other dogs or feels anxious around large crowds. Fear of loud noises can also lead to your dog developing phobias, which is why proper training needs to be carried out particularly when introducing your pet to new places and new people.
As a dog owner, you want to do all you can to prevent your pet from worrying too much and hopefully aiming to raise a friendly and sociable pooch should be the goal for all of us. Luckily there are a number of ways to ensure your pet is comfortable in new surroundings and ideally, you should begin training while your dog is still a puppy.
The reason for this is because from the age of 6 – 12 weeks your puppy will be extremely receptive to socialization and habituation, meaning you can put a lot of the groundwork in at this time and reap the rewards later. However even if your pet is older than this you don’t have to worry, you can still train them in the same way.
To do this you should make the process as natural as possible to ensure you raise a well-rounded pet. One way to do this is to look to introduce your dog to as many different situations as possible, by doing so you will help them to feel comfortable whatever their surroundings may be.
Although this may all sound straightforward there are a number of points to bear in mind to ensure you introduce your pet to new environments in the correct way. Below we have broken down three main tips you can follow, using our experience of coming in contact with literally hundreds of dogs a week, some nervous, some boisterous, who when confronted with new surroundings, loud noises, and left without their owners all react in very different ways.
We hope these tips cover two main areas of raising a dog: training, and grooming. Both of these can seem daunting to new pet owners but it is important to take both aspects of dog parenting one step at a time. To help with this there are a number of great dog training books out there while sometimes it is important to remember not only what we can teach them but also what we can learn from our dogs.
So without further ado here are three key tips when familiarizing your dog with new and potentially busy surroundings:
Don’t rush or apply pressure – this should be the basis for all dog training so is worth repeating here. It is important you don’t rush your pet into any experience they aren’t comfortable with.
As pet groomers, this also applies to a situation we see most often. Although it isn’t anyone’s fault we often encounter owners bringing their pet in to be groomed who just aren’t used to new environments and are visibly nervous.
The last thing this dog wants is to be left with a complete stranger which is why we often suggest for dogs we are grooming for the first time to be brought in quickly before they are scheduled in to be groomed to meet us and get used to the saloon. On this trip they are not left alone, instead stay with their owner for five minutes or so in a new environment and then head home again. By not rushing you can be sure your pet is completely comfortable in new surroundings.
Repetition – Now although in some ways this point may contradict what we have explained above we still think it is vitally important. By reintroducing your pet to experiences and environments they are not overly keen on you avoid phobias and deep-rooted fears by showing your pet they have nothing to be afraid of.
Take our example from earlier with the nervous dog left with us at the saloon to be groomed for the first time. Now upon arrival to pick their pet up the owner may become unnerved themselves at just how anxious their pet has become while they weren’t there. An overprotective owner may jump to the conclusion that their dog just doesn’t like being groomed by others or visit places they aren’t familiar with.
This could lead them to begin home grooming their dog and only letting them interact with other humans and dogs at home. This would actually be a step back in the dog’s development and it is advisable to continue to expose your pet to situations they aren’t so comfortable with slowly, in the case of crowds this can be from afar at first and then edging closer as your pet relaxes.
Encourage others to interact with your pet – Once you have eased your dog into becoming comfortable in crowds with distractions and unfamiliar sounds at every turn it is also important to encourage others to interact with your dog if they’re happy to do so. This continues the socialization phase of your dog’s development and can further help ease any fears they may have of the unknown and strangers in particular.
This can be even more beneficial if you have a nervous or anxious dog. When this is the case, others may be hesitant to pet or say hello to your furry friend. As already mentioned, if people avoid your dog, for this reason, this may perpetuate the problem in your dog’s mind, leading to deep-rooted fears and phobias.
This is a fairly easy step to follow and you can start slowly by introducing your dog to one stranger every time you take them for a walk. By doing so your pet will come into contact with tens and eventually hundreds of unfamiliar faces and begin to ease the worries they may once have had. Obviously, some passers-by may not be pet lovers like you and I but if they are also walking their own dog it is fairly common they will be happy to chat and say hello.
As the above step outlined if you repeat this process so your dog meets many new people one by one they will be far more comfortable in crowded environments that may have once unnerved them.
So there you have a real quick roundup of what we hope are three super easy tips to follow in order to ease your dog into unfamiliar social situations. The three tips complement each other well so can be combined to be even more effective than if they are used exclusively on their own.
We hope by following them your dog will become a far more sociable and calm animal and in no time you won’t have to encourage others to interact with your pet as they will be making the first move to say hello themselves.
Wasn’t that valuable advice!
I will try and focus over the coming days of presenting more guest posts from other authors.