Recent films like The Social Network prove that socialization is just as important for us as it is for our dogs. We believe that you can put your dog to work for you by incorporating him into your social life (and he's bound to love it)! Here's how:
How do you socialize?
First, ask yourself what your personality is. Are you high-energy and outgoing or more shy and relaxed? Do you need a goal or just like enjoying yourself? Think specifically about how you like to socialize with others...in large groups or one-on-one? In the evenings or on weekends? On a regular schedule or sporadically?
How does your dog socialize?
Next, think about your dog's personality. Is your dog well-trained and socialized? If not, you may want to address this first. What does your dog absolutely love to do? Consider his age, temperament, and mobility. Does your dog socialize better at certain times of day? How long is he happy to be around other dogs and people? Does he like dogs of certain ages, sizes or breeds better than others?
Pick and Choose
Now it's time to make a list of activities that suit both you and your dog. Here are a few suggestions by type of dog and personality:
Young, high-energy dogs would do best with activities that really tire them out. A great option for puppies is a "puppy" party, which will allow your puppy to meet and socialize with other puppies/people in a fun, positive way. Or to keep it simple, search for a local dog group and play a regular game of fetch or Frisbee with other dog-owner pairs.
Middle-aged, relaxed dogs are typically well-behaved in crowds, so consider taking yours with you to doggie meetups, group training classes, 'dogtail' parties, costume contests or outdoor pet-themed festivals.
Agility is a great solution for dogs who are old enough to focus and young enough to be athletic. This sport is a great way to make both you and your dog feel accomplished while spending valuable time together. Another option is to find a running partner with an equally energetic dog.
Just because your dog is getting older doesn't necessarily mean he is tired! Many older dogs love a good romp in the yard. Find another owner with an older dog and arrange trips to local swimming spots, or set up play dates during which you and other dog owners can relax knowing their dog is being entertained.
Dogs with lower energy or limited mobility can lead quite fulfilling lives in today's world. A trip to the park to see a friend (and your dog's canine friend) can be a stress-relieving social way to begin or end your day. You might also consider taking a less mobile dog to a family get-together for some unconditional love or to calmly pal around with a similar playmate.
Talk to your friends and coworkers, search the Internet, and always keep an eye out for pet-themed events. (Morris K9 Campus is hosting a movie night and a holiday photo shoot for dogs and their families in November!) Activities and events catering specifically to dogs are becoming increasingly common, so go forth and socialize with your dog!