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Back To School: Tips For Socializing Your Dog For Daycare, Sitters or Play Dates

Pet Care Tips 5 min read
Back To School: Tips For Socializing Your Dog For Daycare, Sitters or Play Dates

September has rolled back around and before we know it the leaves are falling and the children are going back to school. After a long summer of fun, some of our dogs are also now without their human playmates, whether they are going back to school, off to college, or simply back to work.

Many dogs attend daycare where they can spend the day with other dogs, playing and getting exercise. Some make more effort to schedule play dates, or go and stay with canine friends for the day. Whichever socializing your dog undergoes can have challenges. Some dogs are friendly, and some are not! The way your dog behaves around other dogs is very important in how they are perceived by the other dog.

Puppyhood is the best time for socializing your dog, whilst everything is still new.

Puppyhood is the best time for socializing your dog, whilst everything is still new. However many pups can miss out on this, maybe they were a stray, or a rescue where the previous owners didn’t put in the time. Many times adult pups can change. What once seemed fun and exciting could now be attached to a negative association. We have some tips to help socialize your dog who is older than a puppy. These tips will work in all situations – be it in the dog park, at daycare, or on a pup play date!


Tips for Rescue Dog Parents

Stay calm – our dogs are masters at reading our body language. To be able to effectively train and reassure a dog you must first start off in a zen state of mind, even when your dog is getting agitated or upset.

Be positive – Having a positive association with new situations is key for a dog. This positive engagement can be accentuated by us in a tone of voice and cuddles

Be informed on pet body language – Read upon the tell-tale signs that your dog is not happy, noticing these small changes can help you realize when is enough is enough. Some pets will make their unhappiness known loudly, by barking, whining, snarling, whilst some will be more shy, like flat ears, and a drooping tail.

Tips for Introducing Your Pet to the Sitter (These work for cats too!)

Introduce the smell first – If you are having a friend or a sitter come over to check on your kitty or your rescue dog while you are away, get them to lend you a jacket or a scarf beforehand. You can use that piece of clothing to help your pet familiarize with their sitter’s smell. Most professional sitters will cooperate when you tell them that you are dealing with an anxious or a scared pet.

Organize their first date – For the first 1-2 appointments be around for your rescue dog or cat when the sitter comes by. Talk to your sitter in a nice calming voice and extend the happy vibes to your pet too. Get them to identify this new person as a friend.

Music always helps build associations.

Find some calming music – Music always helps build associations. Just the way some old jingles take you back to childhood, a special track or a calming rhythm can help your pet relax and let go. Try different tracks until you find the one that your pet loves the most. Keeping it playing when the sitter comes visiting is a great idea.

Exclusive treats for their meetings – Keep aside some exclusive treats for these encounters and let your sitter know that they can be used as conversation starters or as rewards for being friendly and calm.

Tips for Being Out with Your Rescue Dog

Go with some tricks up your sleeve – Asking your dog to complete a trick in an unfamiliar environment will help to take its mind off what is happening around them. Tricks and games also stimulate their brains and make them feel happy!

Be brief – Short periods of exposure to new things work better than long ones. This means that any anxiety will be short and your dog will quickly go back to feeling calm and relaxed.

Exercise – Take a jog with your dog around the edge of the dog park. Your dog will be enjoying the exercise and not focusing so much on the new dogs. This will help them to become more comfortable in the presence of other dogs.

Daily walks – are key! Consistency is the aim of the game here. Exposing your dog to something new daily will mean that they are better at reacting to new things!

Never force situations – If your dog is unhappy then pushing them will cause a negative association with the object/person/animal that they are in contact with.

Soothe – Take a favorite toy with you, in case familiarity and comfort are needed.


These tips are all great for adult dogs. We would never recommend taking a dog who has not been socialized properly into a dog park. Start by walking around the outside and get your rescue dog used to the new dogs, smells, and take a note of their body language!

Once your rescue dog feels happy find a quieter corner of the dog park and engages your dog in games and playtime with you. You may get a few nosey visitors to come over so keep a close eye on your dog and their body language. If there is a particularly friendly dog, speak to the owner and introduce your dogs slowly, and if necessary leash both of them.

Anna dogs at the beach

Socializing your dog takes time, it cannot be rushed and is completely up to your dog. If your rescue dog struggles and gets particularly distressed or aggressive around other dogs then a behaviorist would be the next step.

But wait, there’s a supplement that helps with socializing your dog! 

To help relax dogs when they go through stressful experiences we recommend NHV’s Lesstress our natural support for stress and anxiety. Lesstress will also support the immune system, helping your dog to feel their best. A blend of six calming herbs, Lesstress can help with

  • Hyperactivity
  • Agitation
  • Separation anxiety
  • Reducing destructive behaviour
  • Improving disposition

For some cases, we have noticed using NHV Matricalm and NHV Lesstress together is a good solution as well.

chaya with lesstress and matricalm

Matricalm is a calming formula of herbs that works for both dogs and cats. It works particularly well if you are dealing with a dog who is anxious and restless all the time.

With the right behavior, suitable supplements, and a healthy diet, your anxious, shy, or aggressive rescue dog can make a beautiful transformation. You will be able to share your loving companion with your friends and other dogs in the neighborhood (or maybe some cats, parrots, and toddlers too!) Your NHV Pet Experts are here to help.

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NHV Pet Experts

NHV Pet Experts

We have a dedicated group of pet expert professionals, including veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals to guide you through any questions. We’re committed to your pet’s wellness and can offer additional tips, resources, nutritional advice, and more.

Published: September 13, 2019

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