As a dog trainer, one of the most common calls I get from a new client is that they need help teaching their dog to get along with other dogs. Whether he’s reactive while out for a walk, fighting with the neighbor’s pup, or simply can’t seem to figure out the right way to play with others, it’s clear that there are a lot of pups in The Andovers who could use a little help getting along.
I cannot stress enough the importance of continued socialization for our dogs. You can’t start too soon, and it’s never too late to begin. Some dogs are lucky; they’re born natural social butterflies and will get along with any other dog throughout their entire lives. But, most dogs don’t have it that easy and must learn how to properly interact with other dogs.
Dogs begin to understand how to play with others as young puppies; the first three months of a dog’s life are absolutely the most critical for a pup to learn proper doggie etiquette. He learns from his family; a mama dog will warn her pups with a growl if they’re getting too rough, and a pup’s siblings will stop playing with him if they don’t like his play style. Once puppies go home to their new families, we recommend to our puppy parents that they have lots of “puppy parties;” inviting people and healthy, well-socialized dogs to come over and interact with their new pup. Then we have the adolescents, the most turbulent months of a dog’s life. Hormones, teething, critical developmental periods, it all happens during this time. They are literally growing and changing everyday so it’s essential to maintain positive and plentiful socialization for young dogs.
After that you’ve got, well, the rest of your dog’s life! Just because he was socialized as a pup doesn’t mean that shouldn’t continue. Dogs can’t sign onto Facebook to see what’s been going on with all of their doggie friends; they need to see them firsthand to learn the gossip!
No matter what the age of your dog, the more positive experiences he has with others, the more likely he will learn to read and use proper doggie etiquette.
But of course, any dog owner in town knows that it’s not always easy to provide socialization for our pups. With busy streets, no public fenced in areas, and leash laws to keep our dogs safe, letting them play with others can be quite a difficult task. As well, many of our dogs were rescued or didn’t have a proper upbringing for one reason or another, so they missed out on those first few months that were critical for socialization.
So why am I going on about the importance of socialization when you, the dog owners of The Andovers, have limited ways to provide that for your dogs? Well, it’s because I’m excited to announce that soon our dogs will have an opportunity to play with others. In the near future, Andover will have a privately funded, public dog park!
Yes, I understand that rumors have been going around for years, however, this one is legit. A space has been determined, money is being raised, a plan has been drawn up, and a website has been launched. I am honored to belong to the Friends of The Andover Dog Park, a small group of passionate private citizens who have come together to turn a dog park in Andover into a reality. Things have really begun to move along and we’re so excited about our progress.
Of course, there are plenty of ways for you to help. As we’ve continued to make great strides, our goal has now become to raise more money. All money for the dog park is being privately funded so any donation helps, big or small. To learn more about how to donate, as well as read about the location, progress, and fundraising events you can check out the Friends of the Andover Dog Park’s new website, www.AndoverDogParkMA.com! You are also welcome to check out the Friends of the Andover Dog Park’s Facebook page.
So though socializing our dogs can be difficult, the pups of The Andovers will soon have the opportunity to make a lot of new friends! I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on our progress, and you’re welcome to contact me at anytime to learn more about the park or how you can prepare your dog to play with others. I will also be writing additional articles about the best way to ensure a safe, positive experience for you and your dog at the Andover Dog Park!
Kimberly Palermo owns BlueDog: a dog walking & training business servicing Andover & North Andover, MA. To learn more you can visit www.BlueDogPetCareMA.com or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BlueDogPetCare.