An adequately socialized dog is one that is the most equipped and prepared to make good choices in social settings. Working with many dogs of different demeanours, sizes, breeds and ages, I noticed that the most common issue is a lack of proper socialization. Not only at an early age but also in the dog's current day-to-day life. I should clarify that socialization to me, simply put, means that a dog is able to feel good, and as a result make good choices, in most social settings. Being able to play with other dogs is really only a small (but important) part of what it means to raise a well-socialized dog. They should be able to enjoy the idea of going for walks, car rides, to different stores, and/or pet shops, their vet, groomer and so on. As well as be able to communicate to you, and feel heard, whenever something new happens that causes them some confusion. That could be anything from a new sound, a new sight or a new smell. That said, it's important to note that all dogs learn and feel comfortable socializing at completely different paces. This is critical to understand, and it's where I oftentimes see pet parents struggle, as they start to tell themselves that their shy, nervous or even reactive dog just can't behave as they'd like, in most social settings. But this is not true! What's beautiful about dogs is they're always ready to grow and learn. Making it so all we have to do is create environments and look for settings where they can do just that but at their pace and ensure that our expectations are also realistic so that we won't push them too far. That's really the best thing you can do to help your dog slowly become more and more social, whether you have a young pup or a dog with social anxiety. Developing desired social skills will always be about positivity, repetition and feel-good experiences. Do be aware of anyone who tells you that you need to 'train' your dog to be more social, or that there's a quick-fix told that'll get your dog behaving better and listening to you. These suggestions generally don't work, even with the best of intentions, as there's really no way to speed up the creation of wanted behaviours. I'm always happy to answer any questions you have and recommend the best ways to go about socializing your dog, here.
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