Friendship with Benefits: The Importance of Socialization for Your Dog

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It’s no secret that finding ways to enjoy social interaction has become more challenging these days. But thanks to technology and tactics both new and old, we seem to be finding new and innovative ways to stay in touch with friends and family. From Zoom parties and group chats to good old-fashioned phone calls, people are doing their best to maintain community and connectedness.

But what about our pups? Your dog doesn’t have the ability to FaceTime with their friends, and a Zoom play date just isn’t the same. What’s more, you may be wondering if your dog has even noticed a difference. You’re probably home more, and that must be fulfilling their need for attention and interaction… right?

While they can’t ask for it, social time with other dogs provides a wealth of physical, mental, and behavioral benefits that your dog needs and wants. Read on to learn more about the important benefits of making time for socialization and play with other dogs.

What Your Dog Gets Out of Socialization

There is a wealth of evidence that socialization outside of the home is beneficial for almost every healthy dog. If you have a pet that struggles with anxiety, aggression, or extreme fearfulness, it’s best to consult with your vet and/or a trainer before embarking on a plan to socialize your dog. Assuming your dog is healthy and hasn’t displayed any behavioral issues though, there are a variety of important benefits to be gained by spending time with and around other dogs.

1. Playing with other dogs provides a fantastic workout.

No matter how much fun you and your dog have during playtime at home, dog-on-dog play offers a type of vigorous exercise that we can’t replicate. Anyone who’s ever been to a dog park can verify that! Playing as part of a pack provides a level of mental and physical stimulation that is guaranteed to tire your pup out in the best possible way. Even better? Dogs have their own language of sounds, gestures, and social cues that make sure they can let the group know when they need a break—cues we may struggle to understand.

2. Social playtime helps your dog develop good manners.

Speaking of dog social cues, time spent playing and interacting with other pups makes sure your dog learns the varied language of how dogs communicate. From knowing when to back off to finding the right way to express excitement or affection, these cues are key to your dog’s behavioral development. Learning proper “dog manners” is important for positive dog-on-dog interactions whether playing at the dog park or simply encountering another pup while out on a walk.

3. Socialization builds confidence and comfort with the new and unexpected.

Running and playing with their friends is fun for your dog, but that’s not the only part of a play date that’s valuable. Learning to explore and adapt to new places, smells, sounds, and types of stimulation are all part of a play experience out of the house. And, while new spaces may create initial hesitation, the enticement of playtime often quickly overcomes that uncertainty. As an added benefit, finding their place in a pack is a huge confidence booster for dogs who might usually be shy. Finally, teaching your pup that leaving the house can mean hours of fun is a great way make your dog better at handling a host of otherwise-stressful situations—from traveling to grooming to vet visits.

4. A happy and well-adjusted pup is a healthy pup.

Living in a city, it’s pretty much guaranteed your dog will interact with new places, people, and dogs on a regular basis. As noted above, regular socialization can help make these new situations less frightening and stressful for your pup, which has big health benefits. Dogs who experience higher levels of stress and anxiety may trigger their bodies’ fight-or-flight systems on a more frequent basis. While these response systems developed to keep animals safe in the wild, flooding the body with stress hormones too often can lead to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, kidney problems, and immune suppression.

How Socialization Benefits You as a Pet Parent

1. Regular social interaction helps curb destructive behaviors.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times: A tired dog is a good dog. Though it may be a cliché, it’s also true. But while the exercise of playing with other dogs can tire your pup out (meaning they won’t have the energy to chew your favorite pair of shoes!), that’s not the only way it helps. Getting your dog comfortable with leaving for play dates or daycare helps lessen separation anxiety, which is a common cause of many destructive behaviors.

2. You’ll appreciate their increased comfort with new places and experiences.

No one likes dragging their dog into the vet’s office or having a pup who barks at the mere sight of another dog on a walk. While socialization might not totally eliminate those habits, the increased confidence and overall ability to enjoy new situations that your dog develops can reduce the severity and frequency of such reactions. When your pup learns to be excited about going someplace new and develops more comfort around other dogs, it can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels too!

3. There’s nothing quite like seeing your dog have fun with their pack.

As we noted earlier, dogs play differently with each other than they do with us. Giving your furry friend an outlet to run, wrestle, chase, and play with other pups allows them to do what dogs do best: be dogs! Even better? Having a regular outlet to play like a dog can make playtime at home nicer too! Dogs with a lot of pent up energy often play a little too hard at home—biting, scratching, or jumping are common examples. Ensuring your canine pal has plenty of chances for dog-on-dog play is a fantastic way to help them release some of that excess energy.

How to Make Sure Your Dog Gets Regular Socialization

While going to the dog park might not be an option right now, there are still plenty of ways to make sure your dog regularly enjoys the benefits of dog-on-dog play.

Booking regular dog walks is a great way provide structured social interactions. District Dogs specializes in small group dog walks that offer your pup a chance to enjoy leashed socialization with a consistent group of furry friends. Our professional walkers ensure each walk provides a safe and healthy opportunity for exercise and fun.

Daycare is another option to provide a stimulating social experience for your dog. District Dogs’ signature blend of fun and safety creates the optimal play experience for every dog. Separate play spaces make sure that pups are matched with playmates similar in size, age, and energy level. Play structures provide hours of entertainment while Protect-All Flooring offers premium underfoot comfort that is soft on joints with superior traction. And when it’s time for a snooze, each playroom is equipped with KurandaÒ beds so your pup can nap in comfort. Plus, you can watch the fun online using on our live HD webcams.

Finally, our professionally trained attendants are always in the room to facilitate socialization and playtime, while enforcing basic training and good manners. We offer full- and half-day daycare sessions and our complimentary two-hour evaluation ensures your dog is a good fit for the daycare experience.

The next time you have essential errands to take care of, book a playdate for your pup at your nearest District Dogs!

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