If your terrier or tabby could talk, he would tell you that properly socialized pets are happier, more well-adjusted animals! Plus, you’ll rest easier knowing your pet is better equipped to adapt to new people, places, and other pets.
If you’re wondering how to socialize a dog or how to socialize a cat, our team at Brownswitch Pet Hospital has some tips to get you started. But before blending furry friends in a social gathering, make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and parasite prevention.
How Being Socialized Helps Your Pet
Each encounter that your cat or dog has with other people and pets provides a valuable learning experience.
By increasing your pet’s interactions with others, your pet will learn:
- How other animals communicate
- How to behave in different settings and circumstances
- How to safely interact with other humans and animals
- To feel more confident, especially in new surroundings
Additionally, properly socialized pets have better experiences if they have to be boarded, and they also make more adaptable travel companions. Plus, trips to the vet are usually less stressful for pets that aren’t as fearful of new people and places.
How Having a Socialized Pet Helps You
Pets that aren’t properly socialized are more prone to displaying destructive behavior, biting or scratching other people or pets, and even having accidents in the house or going outside the litter box.
Best Ways to Socialize a Dog
Prime time for puppy socialization is between 7 and 16 weeks of age, but you can embark on your dog’s socialization journey no matter how old he is.
Puppies should be exposed to:
- New sights, smells, sounds, and ground surfaces
- New people
- Different forms of dress, such as sunglasses and hats
- Bodies of water
- Other fully vaccinated animals in controlled situations
Activities that will help your dog master his social graces:
- Walk your dog—every day without fail—and switch up your route occasionally so he gets exposed to new friends and sights.
- Enroll your dog in training classes or doggie daycare.
- Visit the dog park on a regular basis.
- Visit pet stores that allow pets.
Best Ways to Socialize a Cat
Sooner is always better with cats, since their window for socialization is brief—from about 4 to 16 weeks.
Try these tips to help your cat relate well to others:
- Get your kitten used to being handled by multiple people early on.
- Always speak to kittens (or cats) in a calm, reassuring voice.
- Schedule time for gentle play every day.
- Introduce your new cat to other pets through a baby gate until they get used to each other.
- Teach children to be gentle when playing with the cat.
- Introduce your kitten to as many people as possible.