Below are some helpful tips on how to socialise your new dog with existing pets in the household, with your friends, and with other people’s animals.

Socialising a pup or a new dog is vital if you want the dog to be well mannered, well adjusted and pleasant to be around in the company of other animals and people.

Socialising with Existing Pets: Make an initial contact with other dogs outside the home. If you can, take your existing pet (or pets) for a walk and have a friend meet you somewhere with your new dog. Take a long walk so the dogs can get used to each other. Switch dogs on your walk.

Take all the dogs back to the house. Switch dogs and have a tour of your home, with all dogs still leashed. Let your existing house dogs loose, but keep the new dog tied to you. If the new dog tries to mark the house anywhere, correct him with a sharp jerk and a stern “No!” If any of the existing dogs try to mark, correct them in the same manner. Explain to all, in no uncertain terms, that marking will not be tolerated. In addition, when you feed the dogs be sure to feed the established pets first and stay near the new dog while he eats.

Most established pets, if already well socialised, will enjoy a newcomer as long as the newcomer is friendly and is introduced in the manner described above. If adopting, ask their rescue for their best advice on introducing your new dog since they will have been able to assess your new dog’s actions and reactions in lots of situations before rehoming.

Socialising with Your Friends: While puppies always generate warm feelings, adult dogs do not. It is especially important that they make a good impression on your friends and neighbours from the start, especially if you already have other pets. Set rules for your new dog immediately.

No jumping on friends; keep your dog leashed the entire time friends are at home gatherings for the first few weeks to make sure your dog does not try to jump on them. No barking when the doorbell rings; no running out the door when you open it for guests; make him sit at your side and ask the guests to ignore him until everyone is in and he has a chance to evaluate the new people. Let him approach them for petting if he is calm; if not, wait until you have established the control you need so as not to make a spectacle of yourself and the dog.

When he can accept guests, make sure he does so with all four feet on the ground. It is easy for a dog to try to explore with his paw as well as his nose. If you are firm and consistent from the first guest on, you not only will eliminate obnoxious behaviour but will instil acceptable behaviour. The end result: Your friends will welcome his addition to your family.

Socialising with Other People’s Animals: The same logic applies here as with your other animals, so use the same type of rules. Take long walks on which you know you will meet friends doing the same with their animals. Contain and restrain your dog from barking at other animals as they approach. If necessary make him sit at your side.

Always allow thorough sniffing from both animals, as this is their way of saying hi. If at all possible, invite friends and their animals back to your home and allow the dogs to play by themselves. This solves many problems the everyday pet owner may not think about and he will find the dog much more relaxed and easier to handle.

Worth a read – puppy socialisation checklist

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