I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. The overwhelming excitement, joy, and anxiety. When we first brought Luna to her forever home, I was beyond excited but also very anxious. This is the first time that I had to care for another life. The choices I made from that point on would shape another life for better or worse. I did a ton of research about dogs, Australian Shepherds, dog ownership, etc… I did not want to make the wrong move.
Fast-forward two years later and I could say all things considered, I’ve done a good job to this point. But one thing that I am extremely grateful that my girlfriend and I did with my dog was get her to socialize early and often. Even though we did not definitively know her personality when we first became her excited parents, we knew she was a good dog. We also thought since she adapted so well to us and our families, that hopefully she’d adapt well to other dogs. So, we brought her along to just about everywhere. We had her meet a lot of new people and other dogs. We made sure not to overwhelm her, but also push her limits a bit. Morning walks were a mainstay and we always encountered other dogs and owners and Luna socialized well. We were very happy to know that she was doing well in these new environments.
However, we have come across some dogs who were just not sociable at all and this is understandable. Just like people, some dogs are lone wolves. They do not play well with others and that is OK. From my chats with other dog owners, the owners whose dogs are not that sociable are because they were not put in social situations during their developing puppy years and thus, never learned how to socialize with other dogs and other people.
This is why it is so important to get your dog out in public and interact with many new environments as early as possible to have them adapt to these situations. Be careful to not overdo it, however. A dog will give you a quick sign when overwhelmed and you’ll see them become scared, agitated, or anxious. Respect those feelings and try again another time. But getting them out as early as possible is beneficial for your dog, as we have discussed, but also for yourself as well. It makes life as a dog owner a whole lot easier since you don’t have to worry about them when meeting new environments as much as you might at first.
So, take your dog out. Explore new environments and situations. Remember this is supposed to be a fun friendship between you and your furry friend and it becomes a whole lot more fun when you can both be out and have fun together.