NYC is a tough place for dogs. The concrete jungle is not a natural setting for man’s best friend, and being in an apartment all day can cause obesity or an unstable disposition such as depression, anxiety and frustration due to lack of exercise, stimulus and routine. Dogs are social creatures and requires extensive enrichment through exercise, play, and contact with various humans and dogs. They learn to be dogs through active engagement with fellow canines, and thrive best when provided with purpose– opportunities to associate with various humans, environments, and most of all, their own species.
Fortunately, NYC is a mecca of excellent resources to improve the lives of urban dogs. From medical care, holistic care, dog runs, off leash hours at Central Park, hiking trails across the Hudson River to dog care facilities– most city dogs are well cared for and have great social skills. The act of socialization is not limited only to interactions with dogs. Our canine friends should be exposed to varying environments beyond what they define as their own “territory”– different neighborhoods, shops, modes of transportation such as ferries, train, taxis, various buildings, apartments, other people’s homes, and to nature such as parks, hiking trails and beaches. The more exposure, the merrier– the more places you take your dog, the more confident he becomes. The more confident your dog, the more optimistic his disposition. Your dog will be happier because you have prepared him to be comfortable in his skin no matter what the circumstance.
THE BENEFITS OF SOCIALIZATION ARE BIG:
CONFIDENCE WITH HUMANS: If a dog is being handled by various humans on a regular basis, the well socialized dog will develop confidence and trust with all humans. In a dog’s lifetime, he will encounter dog walkers, doormen, housekeepers and nannies in their homes, or will need to visit the veterinarian, groomer, relatives or friend’s homes, or must be boarded at a kennel when you’re out of town. Learning to trust a large variety of humans will greatly improve your dog’s quality of life as he’s not triggered to be fearful easily.
STABILITY WITH DOGS: Dogs learn to socialize with one another through active play and engagement. If you live in a Manhattan high rise, encounters with dogs occur from many angles: Elevators, streets, common areas, and in the neighborhood. You certainly want a dog that will keep their cool in the elevator if another dog rides along. If a dog rarely sees a dog, their own species is a threat. If a dog is socialized regularly, confidence in the presence of their own species develops, which also improves your relationship with your dog as he’s not attempting to start fights with every dog he meets. It’s also far more pleasant to walk with a dog that’s not freaking out at everything in sight.
CONFIDENCE WITH NEW ENVIRONMENTS: A dog is territorial and a creature of habit, but a dog is also naturally a nomad. Most dogs feel most relaxed in settings that are familiar to them, with routines that are predictable and consistent. Dogs who regularly visit various shops, veterinary offices, dog care facilities, groomers, and takes a ride on various modes of transportation such as cars, trains, airplanes, and ferries are comfortable no matter where they go. With proper conditioning, they enjoy the adventures because sights, sounds and scents provide enrichment. Exposure to different indoor settings are important as it exposes them to variables such as lighting, flooring, doorways, vestibules, elevators, and sounds that could be intimidating to a dog that rarely leaves their home. By exposing your dog to different surroundings, he’ll be able to travel with you, and relocating to a new home will be a breeze.
REDUCE SEPARATION ANXIETY: A dog that is provided with ample social opportunities are less likely to be mortified of your departure due to several factors: They have their own social life, and are not solely dependent on you to feel safe. Second, a well socialized dog is a tired dog. Anxiety is energy, and energy is released through play, engagement, and discovery instead of festering in the format of barking all day in your apartment.
FATIGUE: You work hard during the day, and you don’t want to come home to a hyperactive dog that chewed through your couch. Providing socialization tires your dog, as engaging with dogs and humans provides both mental and physical stimulation. Your Loubitins are much safer in the presence of a tired dog.
As much benefit as socialization provides, there are risks. Check out this article on health risks for dogs in social settings.