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How Important is Socialization for My Dog?

A client approaches a trainer with concerns about their dog’s listless demeanor. The trainer suggests going to the dog park or enrolling in doggy daycare. Shying away, the owner refuses the advice saying that dog parks are a breeding ground for disease and fighting and a daycare is a place for lazy owners to throw their money away. No matter how the trainer tried to explain the importance of socialization, the owner dug her heels in deeper. Is there a right or wrong side here? Not all dogs enjoy the dog park or a daycare, true, but how important is it for a dog to have a social life?

What is Socialization?

Socialization begins with manners. This is the period when a dog learns how to accept, maybe even be friendly towards other dogs, animals, humans. Proper socialization begins very early on with the exposure to varied stimuli, all with positive results. Not all owners are blessed with laid back dogs that accept everything at face value with a tail wag and a smile. Nor do most owners have the luxury of starting at the beginning of the imprint cycle, in puppyhood. With the popularity of adoption growing, owners will often bring home an older dog, loaded with emotional baggage and needing to work on social skills and manners.

shutterstock_185858021Socialization is extremely important for dogs, as it is for humans. They need more than what their human can provide for them. Without proper, positive socialization experiences a dog will turn fearful, agitated, and possibly aggressive. Talk with a professional trainer who specializes in behavioral issues for the best training methods for an under–socialized dog.

Why Socialize?

Dogs are pack animals by nature and people pleasers by default. They crave company, and starve for attention when left alone too long. By taking the dog to the park a couple times a week, not only will they learn manners at the paws of their peers, it will also fill the void of loneliness most dogs have when their humans aren’t around.

Where to Go?

Dog parks have been mentioned a few times, daycare is also an option. Especially for the human that works during the day. Taking the dog to daycare, even if it’s only a few days a week, will get out some energy, lessen the isolation felt and give the dog a chance to be a dog.

If a daycare isn’t financially feasible and a dog park isn’t an option, try hitting up dog friendly stores. This will still get in the interaction a dog needs to remember their good behavior and will give the human and their fur baby some bonding time.

When a dog is properly trained and socialized, they are happy and confident.

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Written by Renee Moen
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