You just brought home a furry best friend and you want to introduce them to everyone you know, but you’re not sure how they’ll react. You need to know how to introduce your dog to strangers to make sure they have a positive experience and grow up to be friendly. Here are a few tips for you to follow:
As soon as you bring your puppy home you should start the socialization process. Invite friends and family over a few people at a time to introduce them to your dog. You should have a lot of different people over the first few weeks so your pup doesn’t just get used to a few people. You also should take them to the dog park, training classes, and out on hiking trails or to the park to help them meet new people and other dogs early.
Be in Control
To help your dog feel comfortable, take control of the situation from the very beginning. Start by inviting just a few people over so your pup doesn’t feel overwhelmed by a crowd. Before letting your guests in, put your dog on a leash and have them sit and stay. Open the door and have your guests slowly and calmly approach your dog. It may help for you to touch your guests to get their scent on your hand and let your dog smell it. Keep a firm but gentle grip on their leash and let them sniff your guests until they feel comfortable enough to be pet.
Give your guests a few treats when they walk in. If your dog is behaving calmly, give them plenty of praise and have your guest reward them with a treat. Care.com recommends having the stranger stay in a crouching or sideways position when offering your dog a treat to help them feel more comfortable.
An important dog training tip is to not reward your dog if they are not exhibiting the behavior you want. So, if your dog is showing signs of fear, aggression, or anxiety, do not use treats to calm them down. Instead, take control of the situation to help your dog relax, and then start the process over. If they behave well and are friendly, then you can reward the positive behavior with a treat.
Separate if Needed
Don’t rush or force the socialization process. You want your dog to have a positive experience with people, so you need to give them the opportunity to feel comfortable. If your puppy continues to be afraid or nervous, separate them for your guests with a baby gate or kennel.
Keep them in a place where they can see everyone and observe. Once they see that the strangers don’t pose a threat, they may feel comfortable enough to approach them. If you have any socialization tips, leave us a note in the comments!