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How do I get my dog used to other dogs and animals

Going back out into the world can be a big deal for a dog that has been at home for longer than we would like. You can help your dog adjust by giving them some foundation exercises and experiences. If your dog is already of a timid, anxious or nervous disposition, talk to your vet or a behaviourist first for advice that may support them to get started.

1. Experience builds confidence

The first step is to begin your training at home. Once confident, you can then progress to your garden, followed by gradually finding somewhere near your house. By doing this, you will have built a relationship with your dog and they will be learning to trust you. You will then be in control, so your dog won’t feel the need to take control themselves. This experience should be fun – by choosing motivational techniques with lots of rewards and a positive attitude from you, they will enjoy learning about new things.

These are some aspects of training you can try:

Walk on a loose lead
Come back when called
Leave on command
Pay attention (watch and listen)
Sit and down
Settle
Wait
Interactive play (with a human!)
Controlled greeting
Little steps will build on each other and aid your dog’s transition from staying in to going out.

2. Creating the scene

Once outside, your dog will come into contact with a number of interesting and unusual things that they may not be used to. These could include:

people
other dogs
other animals
traffic
You can first introduce some of these unusual sounds by downloading some music online or purchasing a CD.

You can begin the process of introducing your dog to another dog by using a stuffed toy as the other dog as a first step. Operate the three-second rule – let your dog slowly approach the stuffed toy, wait no more than three seconds, then with a treat under their nose call them away and reward them as they come to you. Continue with this little game so that it is more fun to come to you than it is to approach the toy. In the outside world you don’t want your dog to jump over every dog they meet or pull you about.

Another exercise would be to walk past the toy using your loose lead exercise. Keep your dog’s attention and practice the ‘leave’ word and reward them when they do. Your dog will soon learn that it is advantageous to pay attention to you because you will reward them.

You can also ask your dog to sit or lay down near to the toy and not to interact at all. This is great preparation for real life as it gets them used to not interacting with distractions, and remaining focused on you – giving you better control as the owner. Learning to control your dog on their harness and lead will be key to your dog behaving well around other dogs.

It is important to note that many dogs are over-interested in other dogs, having had great experiences with their littermates. Therefore it might take some time and repetition with these exercises for your dog to understand. Use different distractions, such as toys and food, always ensuring that only positive reinforcement is used, i.e. by rewarding with treats and a toy. Never pull your dog away by its lead.

3. Make sure your training and outings are lots of fun

If your dog enjoys being with you, the rest of the world won’t matter. You can add in searching and hunting games to keep them interested. To play these games, you can take a supply of treats and toys. They can be scattered and the dog can then find them. You can also hide them behind a tree, in long grass, or on a fence.

How do I get my dog used to other dogs and animals
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