If you want a healthy and happy dog, socialization is the key. By nature, a dog is built with the “fight or flight” response. This means that a dog in a stressful situation has two responses, to become aggressive and fight or flee the scene. If you want to avoid these, dog socialization is a must. Not only does it build and strengthen the human-animal bond but it also forms your dog’s tolerance to different situations, such as extremely distracting environments. 

Without proper socialization, you will end up with either a timid or an aggressive dog. This is also a risk to their own health as well as poses a threat to others. This is just as important as nutrition, vaccination, parasite control, and exercise. 

Dog Socialization: Meaning and Importance

dog socialization

Socialization is the process of preparing your dog for interaction and for it to be comfortable with other animals, people, and places. Socialization should start between 3 and 14 weeks of age for puppies, which is their “sensitive period.”

The process of socialization is helpful, not only for your dog but to you as an owner as well. This will help you identify your dog’s body language, making it easier to understand what they are trying to communicate. 

If your dog is not properly socialized, there are two behavioral possibilities. The fight or flight response. One is their fight mode where they turn aggressive around certain things or people. Worse, they might even attempt to bite. This does not necessarily mean that your dog is automatically tagged as “extremely harmful” or “ferocious”, it is more likely because he hasn’t been exposed to the outside environment and feels threatened. 

Second is their flight mode where, because of lack of socialization, a timid dog may hide, cower, or tremble when they are not used to their surroundings. 

Disadvantages of Poor Socialization

Properly socialized dogs mean being able to live peacefully with them. Here are some benefits of dog socialization. 

Intolerant to new environment

When a dog is properly socialized, meeting new people and going to completely different places is a piece of cake. This is because your dog has a high tolerance to unfamiliar settings due to early socialization. Dogs who haven’t socialized are scared of new environments and unfamiliar situations, often triggering anxiety and anxiety. 

Fewer behavioral problems

Dogs with poor socialization skills are more likely to have problematic and undesirable behaviors like separation anxiety and aggression. And puppies who aren’t played with often grow into adults who are fearful or doubtful of playtime. 

Dogs who don’t have (or have less) human interaction in their first six months of life are more likely to become aggressive to humans when they get older. This makes walking a bit more difficult since you need to choose a route with fewer humans on sight. 

Health problems

Owners of poorly socialized dogs are often reluctant to let their dogs outside. And there are multiple reasons for their hesitation. As mentioned, dogs who aren’t properly socialized are anxious, scared, or turns aggressive at the sight of other people and unfamiliar surroundings. Dog owners’ hesitation is understandable since their dog can cause harm to its fellow dogs or worse, other human beings. 

This limits walks, runs, and other forms of outside exercises which in turn, increases the risks of health conditions linked to obesity and overweight. 

Inadequate Grooming

Many dog breeds require regular grooming to maintain their skin and health fur. Dogs in grooming salons need to be well-behaved so the groomer can thoroughly wash and cut. But poorly socialized dogs make this procedure extremely difficult. It’s either the groomer won’t be able to properly groom the dog or bodily harm can be made. 

How to Safely Socialize your Dog?

Now that you’ve read the importance of dog socialization, here are some safe ways how to do it. 

Enroll in classes

Puppy socialization classes are one of the best ways to start dog socialization. These classes are conducted by professionals in an appropriate environment. Before committing, make sure to check the class size and curriculum. Classes with too many dogs or more playtime than training and learning might not be as effective. 

Good classes to look out for allow time for dog-dog play for canine communication, as well as a tinge of manners lessons. 

Invite and visit your friends

Once your puppy has settled into your new home, you can invite a few friends over to say hello. Make sure to invite different types of people like senior citizens, children who are immune and know how to interact with dogs, people who wear hats, or people who are differently-abled. 

You can always turn these visits into a small training session where you allow your visitors to let the puppy approach them at its own pace. Have them hold dog treats to help your new puppy understand that new friends are good friends! 

Aside from inviting them over to your home, you can visit them as well, especially if they have older dogs that are tolerant of puppy behavior. 

Bring your pup in quick errands

For short puppy socialization trips, try bringing your pooch to dog-friendly places for them to experience different and new environments. The friendly faces of the people in the surrounding areas can help your puppy build tolerance over strangers and unfamilliar surroundings.