Getting a Labradoodle can be an exciting adventure and it’s understandable that our first instinct is to spend as much one-on-one time with him as possible! That said, it’s very important that you socialize the dog with other dogs, people, cats and anything else he may come in contact with on any given day. It’s in both your best interests.
Socializing a Labradoodle, or any dog for that matter, is extremely important because it can make a big difference in how the dog reacts to things down the road. In most cases, you’ll probably be getting a puppy. When it comes to raising children, parents often say, “little kids little problems, big kids big problems.” The same can be said with dogs. Socializing your Labradoodle at a young age is much easier than doing it when they’re older, heavier and more set in their ways. Socializing at a young age can prevent these problems:
- Jumping on children or adults
- Fighting with other dogs
- Chasing cats or smaller animals
- Growling at people or animals
- Intimidating young children
- Being overly shy and afraid of new things
Here you will find some helpful information on not just why it’s so important to socialize your Labradoodle but also how you can socialize the dog properly with:
Importance Of Socializing Your Labradoodle With Other Dogs
The roles that dogs have within families has changed drastically through the years, with dogs now being an important part of the family unit. Many dog owners take their dogs with them wherever they go even on vacation. You never know when your dog is going to come in contact with another dog, whether you and your dog are out and about or someone comes to your home with their dog.
You want your Labradoodle to know how to behave around other dogs, and the best way to ensure that happens is to begin socializing him with other dogs at as young of an age as possible. The ultimate goal is for you to be able to take your Labradoodle any place, even if there’s another dog present, and know your dog will not be affected by the other dog’s presence.
When To Begin Socializing Your Labradoodle
It’s never really too early to begin socializing your Labradoodle with other dogs! If your Labradoodle puppy is going to be joining another dog you already have in your home, you’ll want to introduce them as soon as possible. If your Labradoodle is going to be the only dog in your home, you’ll still want to socialize him or her with other dogs as early as possible.
Canine experts believe that, psychologically, the most critical time in a dog’s life is during the ages of seven weeks old to 16 weeks old. It might be hard to believe that these nine weeks could make that much of a difference, but they can. It’s believed that the socialization puppies get during this period in their lives can dramatically affect their behavior for the rest of their lives.
This is the age when their little brains absorb the most knowledge, and they retain it for future use. Dogs have very good memories. Some dog owners firmly believe that they shouldn’t socialize their dogs or allow them around any other dogs until they’ve had all their vaccinations. Since some of the puppy shots aren’t finished until the puppy is about six months old, you’ll have missed out on a very critical time in your pup’s life.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) strongly believes that puppy owners should begin the socialization period as young as 7-8 weeks of age. They highly recommend owners enroll their puppies in puppy kindergarten classes at that age
How To Properly And Safely Begin The Process Of Socializing With Other Dogs
One of the most important things to remember when socializing your Labradoodle puppy with other dogs is to make it a fun and enjoyable experience. Don’t force the issue or make your puppy do more than he or she is clearly ready to do. When you’re introducing your Labradoodle puppy to a new dog, whether in your home or someplace else, chances are the other dog is going to be older, larger and more confident.
If one of the two dogs are going to be frightened, it’s probably not going to be the other dog. Watch your puppy carefully and look for and pay attention to any signs of stress your pup may exhibit. Following these steps might make it easier on your Labradoodle puppy.
- Take your dog where you know there will be other dogs.
- Allow your dog to just observe the other dogs the first day or two.
- Bring along treats. Give your dog a treat each time another dog approaches.
- Take your dog to dog classes or pet shops.
- Always have extra treats to relax your puppy.
- Observe your dog’s cues and behavior.
- Never force the issue.
Tips For Making The Introduction To Other Dogs
How your Labradoodle reacts to other dogs is often a result of how the introductions were handled. Try introducing your puppy to one dog rather than a group of dogs. Encourage your dog to approach the other dog, but do not force the issue if your dog is not ready. Praise your dog and offer him or her treats so the dog will be more relaxed and associate this with a pleasant experience.
Always, allow your dog to approach at his or her own rate. How this is handled has a lot to do also with your dog’s personality. If your dog is a brave and playful sort, you may have to hold him back a little and go slower so as not to intimidate the other dog.
If you’re out walking the dog and you see another dog approaching, keep walking at the same pace. If you stop, slow your pace or cross the street, your dog may pick up on that and get the idea that other dogs are something that is to be feared or avoided.
Things to Look Out For
In a perfect world, you would think that all dogs will get along well, especially Labradoodles since they’re such loving, friendly animals. Unfortunately, this is not always the case because at least 50% of them want to be the alpha or the boss, and they want the other dog to know this at their first meeting. Try to introduce your Labradoodle to another dog in a neutral location. If you go to another dog’s home, the dog may be aggressive over his toys or treats, which could affect how your dog reacts to new dogs in the future.
In a neutral setting like the park or out in the yard, both dogs are going to be curious. It’s often best to let go of the leashes and let them get to know each other unless you see open aggression. Stand nearby, but don’t hover or show your dog your stress. Dogs are very perceptive. If they feel you have fear or anxiety, they’ll develop it as well. Watch for these signs.
- Hair standing up and/or body stiffens on one or both dogs
- Growling or showing teeth
- Your puppy shaking or crying
- Aggression on either dog’s part
- Both dogs making eye contact
Do’s and Don’ts Of Dog Socialization
- Do allow your dog to approach the other dog as his or her own pace.
- Do praise your dog when things go well with the introduction.
- Do give your dog treats before, during and after the introductions.
- Do remove your dog from the situation if your dog seems uncomfortable or frightened.
- Do give each dog their own space if in the same household.
- Don’t force your dog to stay next to the other dog.
- Don’t avoid another dog because you’re afraid of what might happen. Your dog will pick up on your feelings.
- Don’t make dogs share treats and toys in the same household.
- Don’t yell at your dog if he or she is hesitant about meeting a strange dog.
Importance Of Socializing Your Labradoodle With People
Unless you live the life of a hermit and plan to never leave your home, you’re going to want to socialize your Labradoodle with other people. It’s very important to socialize your puppy or dog with as many different kinds of people as possible and as often as possible. Make sure they’re different ages or sizes and that they wear different kinds of clothing.
Encourage people you know to wear hats because, for some reason, many dogs have an adverse reaction to people wearing hats. When a puppy is well socialized with a variety of people, you can take the dog out in public assured that the dog will always behave well. Labradoodles are very friendly and loving dogs by nature, but socializing with different people will help the dog display these traits with other people.
When To Begin Socializing With People
Socialization should begin as early as possible. The younger your Labradoodle puppy is, the less likely he’ll be shy and fearful of strangers. Dog breeders typically begin the socialization within a day or two after birth. They gently hold the puppies in their hands for a few minutes each day and speak to the puppies so they become accustomed to the feel, smell and sound of humans.
If you bought your Labradoodle puppy from another party, you should begin the socialization as soon as you get him home, which is usually at about eight weeks of age. If you make the mistake of waiting until your Labradoodle is “a little bit older”, it could be too late. This is not to say that an older dog can’t become socialized with people, but it can be more difficult when the dog is older. If a dog develops fears of certain people, it’s much harder to break those fears at an older age.
How To Properly And Safely Begin The Process Of Socializing With Other People
A puppy should be socialized with people at a very young age. From the time the puppy is young, you may want to bring him to the veterinarian’s office even if the dog doesn’t need to see the vet. Your dog will get to see not only other people but also other animals. It will also help your dog to realize that the vet’s office is not always a place that represents pain or fear.
Puppies are happy little creatures, and Labradoodle puppies are no exception. They love being around people, but even as puppies they may be apprehensive at certain situations and people. Do not rush the puppy but rather let the puppy come to you. Give treats to people you want to introduce the puppy to. If the dog is more relaxed, the introduction will go smoother for everyone involved.
Tips For Making The Introduction To Other People
When introducing your Labradoodle to new people and new situations, do it in a relaxed atmosphere so the dog feels relaxes and not scared. However, allow the dog to set his own pace and approach things at his own pace. Allowing new people to slowly pet your dog or feed him treats can make your dog happier and more relaxed. Always praise and pet your dog when he or she reacts appropriately to people.
Treat each experience as part of his or her training. Keep the dog on a leash and ask him or her to sit while you make the introduction. The sit position will have the dog more relaxed, less likely to jump and will allow the person to pet the dog. Give your dog treats and hand treats to your guests for them to give to the dog.
Things To Look Out For
When socializing your dog with new people, watch how your dog reacts to different people. Some dogs prefer little kids while others prefer adults and are fearful of kids. Observe your dog and look for signs that the dog is becoming stressed, anxious or aggressive. If the dog’s hair is standing up, there is something about the person or situation that is frightening the dog. If your dog is a pup, squat down at his level and pet him to reassure him. It’s been said that older dogs are very good judges of character. If they seem to have a bad feeling about a person, trust the dog, and don’t force the issue.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do allow the dog to approach the person when the dog is ready.
- Do introduce the dog to as many people as possible.
- Do make the socialization a pleasant time for your dog.
- Do make your dog behave in an appropriate manner.
- Do not force your dog to go to a stranger if the dog is afraid.
- Do not yell at or discipline the dog if he doesn’t want to go to a new person.
- Do not let the dog jump on people or lick them. What starts off as cute “kissing” can be dangerous when a big dog is jumping on a small person.
- Don’t allow a new person to approach your dog until you and your dog are ready.
Socializing Your Labradoodle With Children
Children love puppies and dogs, and most Labradoodles like children. Labradoodles can be a wonderful companion for your child. However, a dog that doesn’t get the proper amount of socialization with children may act inappropriately when around children. Something that takes place between a child and a Labradoodle when the dog is young can affect how the dog perceives children all of its life.
When introducing your Labradoodle to children, it’s important to teach children how to approach the dog and how to touch the dog. There are constant reports on the news about a dog biting or attacking a child. In some of these cases, it’s the dog’s fault, but more often it’s a result of children not being taught how to approach or treat animals. Children should be taught not to pull the dog’s tail, mess with its ears or approach it too quickly.
The bond between a child and a dog can be a life-long bond if the child is taught to respect the dog, and the dog is taught how to behave around children. It should be a gradual introduction where the dog is allowed to feel comfortable around the children before the children begin touching or playing with the dog. When children are giving new dogs a treat, they should hold the treat on the palm of their open hand rather than holding the treat in their fingers, which could result in the dog accidentally biting the child in its excitement over getting a treat.
Importance Of Socializing Your Labradoodle With Cats
When we think of dogs and cats, we generally think about dogs chasing cats because this is so often the case. Although a dog and a cat having a close loving relationship are rare, it can happen with proper socialization and training. If your dog already possesses a prey drive and takes off running after rabbits, squirrels and every other small animal it sees, it’s probably not a good idea to bring a cat into the mix.
If you plan on bringing a Labradoodle dog into a home that already has a cat, it’s important to socialize then on the very first day. Even if you don’t plan on having a cat in your home, it’s important that your dog become socialized around cats because the dog may come in contact with a cat at some point, and you want to know your dog won’t cause a problem.
When To Begin Socializing Them With Cats
Socialization should begin on the first day the dog and cat meet. It’s a lot easier to train a dog than it is a cat, so training the dog right off the bat is your best option. If the dog and cat are never allowed to be together, they’ll always look at the other one as being the enemy or as something they should either fear or attack. Beginning the socialization on the first day they’re together can make a big difference.
How To Properly And Safely Begin The Process Of Socializing With A Cat
When you’re introducing your Labradoodle to a cat for the first time, keep them apart but allow them to see each other. For the first few days, keep one confined to a kennel or separate room and let the other one roam freely. Switch it up the next day so each one can see the other and smell its scent throughout the home.
The more they can smell the other one’s scent, the more they’ll acknowledge that the other one belongs in the home and the more comfortable they’ll become. After a couple of days, allow them to be together, but keep the dog on a leash. Allow them to smell each other while always maintaining control of the dog. Do not take the dog off the leash until you are comfortable that they’re actually getting along.
Tips For Making The Introduction To Cats
One of the most important things you can do during the introduction is to make it gradual. Do not try to force the issue. It’s a step-by-step process. If the dog seems too aggressive, do not slap or yell at the dog. This will only reinforce the dog’s belief that the cat represents an unpleasant experience. If after a couple of days, the dog tries to chase the cat, go back to square one and start the introduction period all over again.
Things To Look Out For When Socializing With Cats
Sometimes when there’s a situation (or after the situation) between two dogs, a dog and a cat, or a dog and another animal, you hear one of the owners say “I figured there would be a problem because of the way the dog was acting.” Don’t wait until a problem has escalated to do something about it. Watch for these signs.
- Dog acting stressful and fearful of the cat
- Dog walking towards a cat slouched down like the cat is its prey
- Dog growling
- Dog’s body stretched out with hair standing up
- Dogs tail wagging to the left
- Cat hissing or arching its body
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do encourage good behavior between your dog and the cat.
- Do allow the two animals to respond to each other at their own pace.
- Do praise the dog when he sniffs the cat but does not act aggressively.
- Don’t leave the cat and dog alone until you know for sure they get along well.
- Don’t hit or “spank” your Labradoodle if you see him chasing the cat or trying to bite it. It may aggravate the situation.
- Don’t let your dog think he is the alpha over a cat just because he’s bigger.
How long will it take before our Labradoodle puppy wants to play with our young children?
Most puppies are playful and happy, but they’re still apprehensive about unfamiliar people and places. If the dog has been socialized correctly with your children, eventually a bond with form and playtime will be a daily thing!
My Labradoodle puppy is afraid to go by our large German shepherd because the shepherd growls at him. What can I do to make them get along?
From what you’ve said, it sounds like it’s the shepherd that’s the problem. It may just be an alpha thing because he was living there first. Bring them together gradually with more focus on making the shepherd behave appropriately. Make sure your Labradoodle has his own toys and treats so the shepherd doesn’t feel the need to act territorial.
Wrapping Things Up
Socialization is a vital part of your Labradoodle’s life, whether it’s with cats, kids, other dogs or some other household pet. Providing your Labradoodle with early socialization can help you have a happy, healthy dog who will always be a source of pride!