Socializing your Dog

One of the most important things you need to do with your Dog is to socialize it, yet most people are not aware of this term when it comes to their "pet." That's a shame, because with all of the talk about how mean and aggressive certain breeds like "Pit Bulls" are, the only one to blame is the owners of those dogs who become aggressive, and even deadly.

Regardless of what stories you've been told or what the media has tried to portray, there is no such thing as a bad breed of dogs. The American Pit Bull Terrier is not a deadly breed of dogs, although there have been many legitimate stories of maulings caused by Pit Bulls. Why is this? Is this due to this breed being natural born killers? Of course not. These dogs in these stories (most are not even real Pit Bulls) are simply treated in a way that would cause any creature of this world to become mean.

Most people who have dogs are responsible enough to realize that you cannot throw a dog in a back yard, toss it food once a day and expect to take it for a walk with other dogs after it has spent most of it's life away from other dogs and humans. Any man, woman or child would become untrusting and more aggressive if they were treated like this, so what makes it different for dogs? Dogs are naturally social creatures who love to play, love to love and enjoy the "pack life." Those dogs in the stories of the maulings were born to be the same, but most were treated badly, some even taught to fight! Those dogs never stood a chance, and yet some people still believe these dogs, even as puppies, were destined to become killers. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

So how do you prevent your dog from becoming aggressive? Easy...socialization. It's your job as the mother or father figure of your "pet" to teach it right from wrong, just as you would your own child. Dog Parks are a great way to get your dog better suited for the social life. If you have a puppy - this is much easier to accomplish without issue. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it's normal for a dog to be the bully of the dog park or start fights; if your dog has never been around this environment, it's better to take your dog for walks around the park to let him/her other dogs playing. Let your dog get an understanding of what he/she is supposed to do (play!).

Most dogs do well at dog parks, so you may be able to bring your dog directly into the park without issue, the same way you would with a child at a playground. That's exactly what these parks are (playgrounds for dogs).

First rule of the dog park: no leashes. This is one of the worst ways to introduce dogs, unless they're going for a walk. Don't smother your dog, but walk around with him/her to let them know you're there and it's OK, but don't be too uptight either. Dogs can sense your body language. Be calm, it's OK. If you feel that there's a dog that could cause issues, then stay near your dog. In fact, it's always best to stay near your dog(s) anyways, as there's always problems that can occur, just like a child at a playground.

If a fight breaks out, grab your dog. Dogs tend to join the fight in "pack mode," so getting a hold of your dog will help keep the fight from becoming a real issue. These fights are rare, but it's something to keep in mind.

A tip that might help your dog from becoming too excited at the park is to take him/her for a walk prior to going in. This helps wear them out a little and keeps them a bit more calm and relaxed. In fact, taking your dog for a walk around others is a great way to help socialize them. 

What if there are no parks? Well, this is where you may have to be more creative. Taking them (on leash) to human parks on walks is a good start. If you have neighbors with dogs, why not try to setup "play dates" that will allow the dogs to create a social enviroment for all? How about using sites such as to create a larger play date with many dogs to play?

The only problem you may have in these cases is finding the space. But there's always ways to get your dog out of the backyard or house and teach them how to become social creatures, as they were born to be.

There's no such thing as a bad dog, it's always the owner, and this is fact. Remember that the next time you judge a breed based on fear tactics by those with an agenda (media, anti-breed organizations, etc).

I hope this article helps you and your dog(s). If you have any other ideas, tips, tricks or advice, please leave a comment below and join the discussion!


over 11 years ago

I get so irritated when I read nonsense about certain types of dogs like APBT's. I had a great APBT named Roscoe that was as sweet as could be, but I rescued him when he was about 6 months and I never had the chance to really socialize him. He was like other dogs who weren't socialized... he barked a lot and probably would have attacked other dogs if he felt threatened. But after I finally learned about why he was the way he was - his attitude had changed.

This goes for my oldest dog, too. He's a Husky and was not socialized when he was younger. He and Roscoe didn't like each other very much and that was my fault. But years later my oldest dog is as playful as he was when he was a puppy, and a lot more friendlier. Baby steps!

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