Meeting new dogs and new people is an important component of any dog’s socialization. As most dog owners already know, every dog has its own personality, temperament, and traits, and these develop differently depending on who they interact with and the environments they grow up in.
No matter where you and your dog are, you’re going to want them to be relaxed and gentle when they meet a stranger. A dog that shows aggression toward people can carry some real consequences. An aggressive dog could harm a stranger, be it an unsuspecting delivery man, a visitor, or even a child who simply wandered onto your property. About 4.7 million people in the U.S. are victims of dog bites, and about 27,000 of these cases sustained serious injuries. Dog socialization is more than just training for manners, it is to ensure that your dog doesn’t harm anyone unnecessarily.
Control the situation
It’s important to prepare the environment for when someone comes over. Keep your dog on a leash. Once your visitor arrives, observe and correct your dog’s behavior calmly, but sternly.
Welcome your visitor, greet them, and make sure that your visitor greets you first before turning their attention to your dog. If your dog is calm, allow your dog to gently sniff your guest. This helps your dog feel more comfortable with the situation.
Reinforce good behavior
If you like how your dog behaves, you need to reinforce that behavior through a reward. When your dog is calm, lying down, or even just sitting when a stranger comes around, your dog deserves treats and praise. This way, your dog learns that staying calm and composed earns him treats.
Keep exposure short
If you have an anxious dog, or if you’re just beginning to train your dog, it’s important to minimize exposure. Keep your dog on a leash, and stay calm. Remember that it’s important to show your dog that visitors don’t mean you any harm. You achieve this by setting an example. Stay calm, don’t yell commands, and reinforce good, calm behavior.
Use a doggy gate
If you’re not sure how your dog is going to react to a visitor, you might need to keep your dog at a distance from your guests. Ask your guest not to make eye contact with your dog for a minute or two, and not to give any attention to your dog. This helps your dog keep calm.
Hire a trainer
If your dog is overly aggressive toward strangers, you might want to consider hiring a professional dog trainer to correct his behavior. An overly aggressive dog is not only potentially harmful to strangers but to you as well. What’s worse is if your dog does end up injuring someone, they will be forced to wear a muzzle, which, in turn, will also seed distrust in strangers.
Socialization is important
Dog socialization training is not something that should be taken lightly. Aggressive dogs can injure people grievously and as pet owners, we are responsible for the way our dogs behave.