Big dog care and maintenance

How to Socialise an Older Dog to the Company of Other Dogs

Our four-legged friends are pretty accepting of new people and dogs when they are still in the puppy stage; when they're young, you'll mostly just need to expose them to new things and reinforce their behaviour with some tasty treats. Unfortunately, socialising an older dog to the company of other dogs can be tricky.

This can be problematic if you need to leave yours at a boarding facility, where it will naturally interact with other pooches, but, even if it will never be necessary to leave them with other dogs, it's nice to know that your pet will be able to make some canine friends. Luckily enough, it is possible to teach an old dog to like new doggy friends, and here's how you can make it happen.

Walk Them Daily Around Other Dogs

You should already be taking your dog out for a walk each day, so try making sure you bump into other dogs on the way. Looking for a local dog park is a good way of making sure this happens. Walks are great because your dog will be relaxed from using up their energy, and no territorial disputes are going to make interactions tricky. When your dog passes another, don't pull on the leash or shout at them; instead, reward good behaviour with a couple of treats.

Engage in Activities

One of the best ways to get your dog used to the presence of other dogs is by associating the act with another activity. Your pet might not be comfortable just hanging out with other dogs when they have nothing to keep them busy, but they might put up with it if you're going to an obedience class or playing Frisbee. Dogs love having a task to do, so they won't be as worried by other canines, and they'll become more comfortable over time due to the happy associations.

Find One Special Friend

If you really want your dog to get on with others, try singling out one special friend for them to have fun with. You should be able to find a buddy who has a dog that you can hang out with, but you can also find likely playmates through one of the activities listed above.

Allow them to keep their distance when they first come together, then start doing things together, such as taking walks. Eventually each dog will relax into the company of the other, and they'll begin to enjoy seeing each other. This works best when you find two similarly sized dogs with the same kind of energy level. A Labrador and a Vizsla are more likely to hit it off than a Labrador and a Lhasa Apso.

With these socializing tips, your older dog will feel more at ease with other canines, especially if you have to leave them at a boarding facility.