Have you ever considered that your dog is not like most animals? The vast majority of animals are not domesticated, and while they may have a social hierarchy within their own small group that satisfies their need for social interaction, humans are not a part of this. What sets your dog apart is that dogs have social needs that go beyond the usual “pack” group mentality, and includes humans. Let’s take a closer look at why this is so.
Modern dogs have social needs inherited from their wolf ancestors. As man slowly domesticated these wild animals through selective breeding and friendship, the modern dog never lost this need for social interaction. Today this interaction is with other dogs and humans. This is one of the many reasons why we enjoy dogs so much and why they also enjoy our company.
Owning a dog requires we provide them with not only proper care and a safe environment. It also includes meeting their desire for social interaction with us. Much as the wild wolf views his pack as his family our dogs view us as their family and pack. This is where they feel needed and most comfortable.
A few of what dogs have social needs for include the following:
- A loving, safe home and family who takes the time to exercise their dog with walks and play. This is a time for bonding with your dog, and showing him or her they are important members of the family.
- Their own space to take naps, sleep, go when they wish to be alone, and this is a place they feel safe. It can be a particular room in your home or outside in their pen.
- Training and discipline play a vital role in the life of a dog. Just as children want to know what is acceptable behavior so does your dog. They thrive best when taught what behavior you will praise them for, and what bad behavior on their part means. When disciplining your dog remember to never hit, kick, scream, or abuse the dog in any way. This is not going to help socialize your dog and will often turn an otherwise friendly dog into a dog with a mean side.
- One of the most overlooked aspects is socialization with other dogs.
Socialization to other dogs is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a dog’s social experience. The more dogs and puppies a young dog meets, the better he will get along with any dog, anywhere. Not supplying your dog with the skills with which to get along with other dogs may well be a form of abuse and neglect.
This includes being kept with their littermates for at least 8 weeks, and plenty of play with other dogs afterwards. I urge you to read their informative article.
Dogs have social needs and as responsible owners it is our responsibility to meet these needs. A well socialized dog is a happy dog and a happy dog is a healthy dog.
Is your dog’s social needs being met?