Socialization appears to be a very misunderstood term in dog training. Frequently I see people scratching their heads at their misbehaving dogs, saying he was socialized, I’m not sure why he does this… What I think many people are missing is that there are good and bad ways to go about socializing your dog.
Good socialization means exposing your dog to new and novel situations in a positive way. It means helping your dog through scary or stressful occurrences so they come out feeling like a victor. It means letting them interact with dog friends that complement their personality and reinforce good canine interactions.
Socialization does not mean letting your dog get bullied (or be the bully) in canine interactions. It does not mean putting your dog in impossible situations and watching them fail. It does not mean letting every stranger (human and dog alike) invade their space and make them feel uncomfortable. And not mean letting them loose at the dog park and watching from a distance while the dogs sort it out.
You are your dogs companion, teacher and protector. If socialization is done right, your dog will see you as such. It sets the tone for a beautiful relationship based on trust and security, allowing your dog to gain the confidence needed to stand on their own four feet and make good decisions. You want your dog believing that together you can conquer anything.