Dog Socialization is Critical for Your Dog’s Health. Here’s Why.
Dogs are man’s best friends. But have you stopped and wondered who a dog’s friends are? While we adore our dogs, it doesn’t stop people from going out and mixing with others. We socialize, drink, dance, laugh, work, and play together, and constantly expand our social network. Yet, all too often, we deny our dogs the same privilege. Dog socialization just doesn’t feature in most owners’ minds. Nor will you find dog socialization on any veterinary exams.
That’s an absolute travesty.
Think we’re overreacting? We’re not. Here at Doggie Playmates, we passionately believe in the importance of dog socialization. We don’t need convincing. We see the evidence every day. Dogs who get to socialize at doggie daycare aren’t just mentally more stable; they even do better physically too.
Plus, there’s just something absolutely joyful about watching dogs play and hang out together.
So, what are the key reasons why dog socialization is pivotal to your dog’s wellbeing? That’s what we explore below!
1. Dogs are pack animals
Dogs and humans are social creatures. It’s part of the reason why we’re best buds. They love chillaxing at home. So do we! They’re always eager to run around the park. Join the club!
But, unlike people who prefer small groups – dogs are pack animals. Their ancestor, the wolf, can have pack sizes ranging from 2 to 36 wolves. Most packs have at least six wolves.
Little wonder then that dogs who are not adequately socialized exhibit more fearful and anxious behaviour. In one study, young dogs who were restricted from socializing with other dogs had a more heightened fear and anxiety response.
The difference was physiological.
The level of socialization broadly corresponded to the release of cortisol and adrenaline: stress hormones. High cortisol levels can even affect a dog’s weight and health – cortisol downregulates the immune system, meaning infections are more likely.
2. Keeping active
Does anyone want to run around a field after your dog for an hour? No. While many owners take their dogs for a run, few are willing to roll around the ground fighting for a piece of rope. It’s just not that type of relationship.
The same can’t be said for other dogs.
In fact, aside from the fun of the competition, dogs who thrash around with other dogs are far more active. Solitary dogs, meanwhile, typically spend 72 to 85% of their time sleeping. That contrasts with socialized dogs, who only spend 4 to 5% of their time inactive.
That a no small difference.
Why do they sleep? If in their mind they’ve nothing to do, they sleep.
In people, we’re all aware of the dire effects of inactivity: obesity, heart disease, and more. The same is true for dogs. Inactive dogs are overweight or obese dogs. They’re more like to suffer from the following:
– Orthopaedic disease
– Diabetes mellitus
– Heart disease
– Reproductive disorders
– Dermatological diseases
– Urinary disorders
And that’s just the beginning. In almost every manner imaginable, inactivity is worse for your dog. I mean, just consider what dogs were bred for: hunting, ratting, sniffing, roaming, guarding, and more. Dogs are bred to work, to play, to be active.
There’s even evidence that active dogs live longer too.
3. Find their place in the hierarchy
It’s a dog-eat-dog world – this crude saying mischaracterises the hierarchy of dogs. It’s actually vital for their social life. Knowing who’s the top dog is critical to their wellbeing.
Well, by playing with other dogs – be it just in the park, at the beach or at doggie daycare – dogs develop intimate social bonds. That’s most important as a puppy, as the interaction informs adult dogs about social organisation. Skills like co-operation, learning, and competition are taught in this environment. Indeed, in some games, dogs will handicap themselves to keep it fun.
Fail to allow your dog to socialize with other dogs, (of all sizes), and you’re capping their development. You’re preventing them from being the best dog they can be.
Here are Doggie Playmates Daycare, we believe every dog should get to meet up, interact and play with other dogs on a regular basis. The stimulation and feeling of belonging socialization with other dogs provides is fundamental to their overall wellbeing.
4. Less depression and aggression
When two dogs meet at the park, it’s a nightmare for owners. The dogs can bark, growl, or just sniff at each other. Suddenly, leads are pulled back, preventing the dogs from interacting. Off the pair walk, both glancing back in curiosity.
But think about it.
If you never saw another person, wouldn’t you be curious when you did? Wouldn’t you act a little weird? And wouldn’t it make you sad that you couldn’t hang around and get to know them? They may have become good friends to hang out with.
Indeed, social deprivation in dogs leads to abnormal behaviour. Isolation triggers signs of depression. Even worse, it fosters aggression toward other dogs. As a Spanish study revealed, 52% of all canine behaviour issues are aggressive in nature. Yet, 91% of social confrontations in dogs are resolved non-aggressively.
That’s why it’s so critical to socialize with other dogs early, and provide regular socialization opportunities.
When puppies aren’t socialized, they display rapid aggression and non-group behaviours when they’re older. They’ve simply got stunted development.
The bottom line
There’s no denying the evidence. Dogs need other dogs. Don’t take it personally. You will always be your furry y playmate’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have other friends – ones who speak their lingo.
Dogs that are isolated with little or no opportunities to socialize end up lonely, overly protective of their sole companion/owner, aggressive, or fearful of other dogs and overweight. It’s not their fault; it’s their owner’s.
Through doggie daycare services , like here at Doggie Playmates Daycare, your dog can meet other dogs in a calm and controlled environment, that provides enjoyable means to overcome repressed isolation issues such as separation anxiety, fear of other dogs, laziness, and boredom related issues. They can chase, play, sniff, make new playmate friends, have new experiences and gain new skills. That won’t just help their health; it’ll also enrich their life and soothe their soul.
A dog’s life and time with us is all too short. Enrich their life with canine socialization opportunities and experiences.