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How to Properly Socialize Your Dog with Other Dogs

By Jason Trainer  •  May 4, 2021  •  

Dog to Dog Socialization

Socialization is not what many think it is. Socialization is when your dog can co-exist in any environment without the need to interact with another person or animal. It is when your dog is neutral. A dog park or daycare setting where dogs are constantly playing with no rules, boundaries, obedience, or structure is FAR from proper socialization. In fact, many of these types of dog’s struggle with some type of behavioural issue. A topic that can be talked about in the future.

Proper socialization is especially important to teach to every dog. When your dog learns to be neutral regardless of what’s happening around him it means he can much more easily navigate calmly and happily. No one wants a dog who feels the need to run up in every other dog’s face. Dogs like this are trouble.  

Learning how to remain calm, content and make proper choices around other dogs is crucial for success.

When Should You Start Socializing Your Dog with Other Dogs?

You should start your socialization training as early as you can. The best way to do this is through engagement sessions in public. We do suggest having your dog vaccinated before engaging with unknown dogs. If you do start socializing before this time, it is best to ensure the other dog is vaccinated to minimize risk. To be sure, ask your veterinarian for clarification.

This is when you find a game like “tug” or use obedience to keep your dog motivated for you and what you have instead of motivated to interact with everything in its surroundings.

Introducing Your Dog to Other Dogs

Please take caution when introducing two new dogs to one another. You must have a fluent understanding of a dog’s body language to ensure you are recognizing when one of the dogs is uncomfortable and end the greeting immediately.

The most important thing to do when introducing two dogs is to do it on neutral ground. Somewhere that is new to both dogs.

You can start by taking both dogs for a walk next to each other but not allowing them to greet in anyway. This allows them to get used to one another without the pressure of an unwanted interaction.

How to carry on from here all depends on each dog's comfort level and temperament.

How to Avoid/Stop Bad Behaviour When Interacting with Other Dogs

Identifying Warning Signs During Interactions

When you have finally gotten your dog interacting with another dog some of the signs to know when to STOP the interaction are the following:

  1. One of the dog freezes - it is very important that space is made between both dogs to prevent incident.
  2. One dog is constantly bullying.
  3. Whale eye – this is when the white (sclera) of a dog’s eyes are showing and his/her eyes are fixed somewhere.
  4. The play is getting too intense.
  5. One dog is constantly on its back or showing avoidance.

Having Control of Your Dog During Interactions

Having an obedient dog is important before allowing interactions to happen. One of the most important commands to teach your dog is the recall. If you notice the play is getting out of hand or one of the dogs is getting bullied, acting nervous or too rough you can call you dog away from what could be a very negative and stressful interaction for your dog.

Remember, sometimes all it takes is one negative experience for a dog to develop behaviour issues.

What If the Other Dog Has Bad Behaviours?

Always ensure you choose who your dog interacts with wisely. Dogs who look like they are constantly overexcited, pushy and offer bully type behaviour should be avoided.

Finding a balanced dog and matching playstyles is the best way to ensure a positive experience for your dog.

Tip: your dog does not want to interact with every dog it see’s just as you wouldn’t want to stop and have a conversation with every person you walk by. Doing this can also create bad behaviours. The best bet is to choose a select few dogs who’s owner you know.

Can You Over Socialize Your Dog?

The good thing about proper socialization (co-existing) is that you can never do it enough. The more environmental exposure and socialization your dog gets the more neutral he will become.

The ITK9 Way

ITK9 trains with your dog in different environments along side other dogs to help with proper socialization and behaviour.

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