A Socializing Quiz. Test your smarts!

honks1. True or False?

Smart Socializing involves setting your dog up for success with the most positive dog-dog interactions.

TRUE – The more positive interaction ANY dog gets with other dogs, the more likely he will develop and maintain dog-tolerant behavior for life.

Right: This female puppy’s all-positive exposure to well socialized adult dogs was planned for her benefit. Her mother was ‘Dog Selective,’ meaning, she was easily offended by rude behavior from strange dogs. Meg the pup inherited the same traits later in life, but good early socialization and smart management set her on the path for enjoying trusted dog friends as she matured. 

2. True or False?

Dog Parks are a dependable place for positive dog-dog socializing opportunities.

FALSE – While Dog Parks can be fun, they also bring negative interactions by forcing your pet to come up against dogs that may be overly stimulated, short-tempered, outwardly aggressive or otherwise badly managed. Smart Socializing means keeping your friend dog-tolerant, and that involves AVOIDING dicey situations where conflict can spark. Read up on Dog Parks.

3. True or False?

joey‘My dog is really good with my brother’s dog. Is it true that he’ll be good with all other dogs?’

FALSE – The friendship an adult dog forms with one dog will not necessarily translate to strange dogs. It’s completely normal for adult dogs to be picky about new dog friends, and to require slow, staged intros to support the best interactions. See video at bottom of page for our best tips on intros.

Right: These housemate dogs are great pals, but one is decidedly ‘Dog Aggressive’ with strange dogs, one is ‘Dog Selective,’ while the third dog is completely ‘Dog Social.’ When you want to socialize your dog, it’s important to know his individual limits so you don’t set him up for a bad experience. Read About Dog Tolerance Levels

4. True or False?

Opposite sex housemate dogs tend to have fewer problems than same sex pairings, especially when both are fixed.

Mostly TRUE – When looking for a second dog or a playmate for your dog, start by searching for well socialized dogs of the opposite sex.

Did You Know? A study on dog/dog aggression found that problems between housemate dogs are far more common with same-sex pairs. This is especially true for female pairs. Study

5. True or False?

I heard that fights we see at dog parks are just dogs’ way of working things out. Isn’t it helpful to let them learn how to take care  themselves around other dogs? 

FALSE – A dog’s first fight is always the one you want to avoid. Why? A bad fight can make a huge impression on your dog and cause him to have a shorter fuse the next time a dog-dog conflict comes up. Dogs learn from their bad experiences just like we do, so it’s best to protect them from conflict.

TIP: Protect Your Dog from a Bad Dog-Dog Experience.

Dogs don’t need to ‘prove’ that they can be buddy-buddy with all other dogs. A Good Goal: Make sure your dog can calmly tolerate the presence of other dogs when he’s on-leash. Another Good Goal: Help your dog enjoy dogs by developing a small handful of favorite play partners for supervised fun in safe, contained areas. Skip the dog parks. No really, skip the dog parks.

6. True or False?

crickeA good way to socialize is to let your dog greet dogs that he doesn’t know during his walks.

FALSE – Yikes, no. Leash greets can be a very challenging way for any two strange dogs to meet and a sure bet way to set the wrong two personalities up for a loud argument. Also, allowing your dog to do this will encourage him to pull like crazy towards any dog he sees. The tension that builds from the excitement of a rushed greeting can escalate into leash frustration for him and yanked shoulders for you  Not fun!

Right: This handler is rewarding her dog for ignoring the passing dogs in class. With practice, Cricket is able to stay calm and ignore other dogs on-leash without any prompting. No more pulling at the leash to see dogs – and the public gets to see perfect manners!

TIP: Practice Defensive Driving with Your Dog:

If someone insists on rushing their dog up to meet yours, just hold out your hand, step in front of your dog, smile brightly and say, “Sorry! We’re in training right now!” or “Sorry! My dog has kennel cough” – a fib with function. Don’t be shy. It’s our responsibility as dog owners to protect our pets from potentially negative experiences. It’s perfectly OKAY for your dog not to greet every dog he encounters.

Smart Tips for Introducing Two Dogs for a Play Session:

gurdySee VIDEO below!

Mature dogs (one year old and up) tend to do best with dogs of the opposite sex. Take your time and introduce new dogs in stages. Avoid rushing it. Socially mature dogs should meet on neutral turf like a city street with a long side-by-side walk to help break the ice and get them used to each other’s scent and presence. Some dogs – puppyish dogs or very well socialized dogs – can play with new friends almost immediately; others may take days, weeks or months before they get to this stage. Some may never get to the point where they can play with other dogs. That’s okay – For them, just being calm, tolerant and well behaved while on-leash is a very worthwhile goal. If you stage it well, a good first intro between mature dogs will be rather uneventful. The goal is to help them get familiar with each other without allowing any physical contact. They can work up to having more contact over the next few days or weeks. With time, familiarity will lesson their excitement level and pave the way for a smooth relationship.

NOTE: In BAD RAP, it can take a few days before a mature foster dog can play with other mature dogs. The slower we take things, the fewer problems we see and the more long-term success we can enjoy. ABOVE: Looks for curious, relaxed body language as a sign that two dogs are interested in meeting.

On the day that you finally decide to let dogs have full contact with each other, it helps if both are well exercised and well acquainted. Remove all toys and food items. Keep leashes on and when they seem relaxed, drop the leashes. This moment of faith can be scary, but if you’ve laid some good groundwork with slow intros and good obedience training, your dogs should enjoy having the opportunity to finally interact. As they sniff each other, keep your voice happy and confident and praise them for showing relaxed body language. Practice calling them back to you to make sure they’re still under voice control. If you see either dog stiffen or the hair on their back puff up (‘hackles’) calmly step in, leash them up and try again another day. If the dogs start to play, use your voice to keep things calm and to prevent them from getting too aroused. Don’t allow mounting or toy-tugging during these first few play sessions.

If a scuffle does break out, you haven’t failed. You may have just pushed things too fast. It may be best to lower your expectations and take things slower, or hold off on any more greets and call in a trainer to help you. It’s not unusual to have a couple of minor snarfs as dogs get to know each other, but it benefits everybody to keep those to a bare minimum.

As a rule, it’s always best to end intro sessions when things are going well. Don’t wait until the dogs have played so hard that they become over aroused or so tired that one or both get grumpy. Instead, end the play on a positive note and lavish praise on everybody for doing well – including yourself!.

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