Socializing Your Dog to Other Dogs

Socialization to other dogs is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a dog's social experience. The more dogs and puppies a young dog meets, the better he will get along with any dog, anywhere. Not supplying your dog with the skills with which to get along with other dogs may well be a form of abuse and neglect.

When a dog has enough social experience with other dogs during his critical window of socialization, he learns how to get along with dogs. Without the right kind of social experience, behavior problems develop. Most owners who seek private training for their aggressive dogs have dogs who were not socialized properly and never learned their valuable social skills.

Pay Attention to Play Styles

Rowdy puppies should not be allowed to play rough for long periods of time. By having active dogs play with other dogs of varying personality types — shy puppies, outgoing adolescents, and adult dogs (who are not as tolerant of rude puppy antics) — you have the best chance of teaching the boisterous puppy how to adjust his play style to any dog.

Letting a rowdy puppy play only with other rowdy puppies is asking for trouble. This pup will grow up to be obnoxious around other dogs and will not be well liked. Obnoxious adult dogs are not tolerated well by other adult dogs because they have no manners. They jump, roughhouse, and mouth too roughly.

As a result, they are often overcorrected by other dogs. The rowdy adult dog is often the dog that all the other dogs gang up on because all the other dogs feel he needs to be taught a lesson. The rowdy pup needs lots of social experience. Consider doggie day care to help him meet all kinds of dogs that will teach him the rules of getting along with the group.

To preserve your dog's healthy social development, monitor his playmates so that he's not playing too rough for too long a period of time. Some rough play is okay, but too much will teach your puppy that being out of control is the way to play. Vary your dog's experience by going new places and meeting lots of different dogs.

Playful puppies are middle-of-the-road types; they can play rough with the rowdy dog or tone it down to play with the shyer dogs. They are born peacemakers and party dogs. These pups can be with any type of dog and have a great experience. These cheerleaders will invite any dog to play and will be the most easygoing dog in the group. Owners of this type of pup need to be careful that their puppies don't get too overwhelmed by more enthusiastic dogs. Don't be afraid to initiate little breaks in the action and let your dog cool down a bit before sending her back in for more fun.

Unlike rowdy or energetic pups, shy dogs would wilt in a group of rowdy pups, learning to be fearful and defensive instead of playful. These dogs should spend huge amounts of time with playful pups that invite them to play but are not too boisterous. Playful puppies invite shy dogs to interact by play bowing, barking (not excessively), and kissing the other puppies. The playful puppy will continue to invite the shy pup to play until eventually he wears him down.

A shy puppy needs triple the amount of social experience as the average dog, but it needs to be carefully calculated so as not to overwhelm him. If you own a shy puppy, enroll him in a well-organized puppy kindergarten and consider a carefully selected doggie day care. Be sure the day care folks know how to socialize a shy dog and provide downtime via a nap in a crate or separate room several times throughout the day.

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