Dogs don't make friends !
“I want my dog to be social”
“I want my dog to have a bunch of dog friends.”
“I want my dog to play at the dog park.”
Do these phrases sound familiar? It is a strange concept that we want our dogs to be social butterflies, always be in a good and playful mood, and pretty much be extroverts wherever we go.
We tend to think that socialization means that our dogs have to play with other dogs all the time.
The thing is that socialization comes in many different ways. A dog that is properly socialized doesn’t have to play with every dog they meet. We can be at the airport, on a bus, at a pub etc. and don’t have to talk to and vibe with every single person we see there. And yet we are in a social setting, are socializing and should feel comfortable in our own skin. So why d we expect our dogs to make friends everywhere we go?
It’s as if we send out child to the playground and keep telling them to “go be social”. It doesn’t work like that. A dog will be social when they are ready, and when they feel comfortable in the situation.
A dog can be social by calmly walking past or next to another dog or human. A dog can be social by laying down and watching the world go by. A dog can be social by being accepting of their surroundings and engaging with their human. A dog can also learn to be social with many repetitions of other people and dogs not engaging with them, so they understand that others are not a threat.
Let’s scratch that idea that socialization only means that dogs play with each other. It’s so much more than that. It’s better to understand what we can do to make our dogs comfortable in a social setting, what types of situations aren’t completely overwhelming, and where we can work or improve on things in a safe way.