Dog Socialisation – What Are We Trying To Achieve ?

dog socialisation image

21st July 2020

By

Categories: Behaviour

We are all led to believe that dog socialisation is very important. But take a moment to think about these questions:

  1. Exactly how important is dog socialisation?
  2. Can you over socialise dogs?
  3. Are you doing it correctly?

Every time we share the above quote on our Vislor Dog Training facebook page, we have a flurry of comments & shares. For many people, the penny drops! They begin to realise that perhaps dog socialisation is not what they thought it was.

Over Socialising Dogs

I have been training dogs for many years and experience daily the problems caused by over socialisation. Dogs need to learn to be calm around one another, livestock and people. Puppy training classes are not always the best training solution. In puppy class dogs will often play with each other and become over excited. Over excitement in dogs can lead to anxiety, frustration, and aggression. Over socialising your dog is normally the root cause of many behavioural issues. One issue we encounter frequently is poor or non-existent recall.

Typical Scenario

Consider an owner who takes his dog to a training class. At class, the dogs play together and become over excited. The next day the owner takes his dog to the park and lets it off the lead. Before long, the dog spots another dog and runs towards it to play. The owner tries to recall his dog but to no avail, because his dog is not listening. After all, his dog learnt yesterday that playing with other dogs is fun and now he has a major distraction.

The owner has no recall and has lost control of his dog and the situation. The other dog may not be as friendly and now the situation has escalated into a fight. Maybe one of the dogs runs off into a busy road. left untrained this will develop in to other unwanted behaviour, such as running over to other people, jumping up, or knocking over and frightening children.

What are we aiming to achieve

I train and expect my dog to be indifferent to other dogs and people. In suitable surroundings, I want my dog to have the freedom to be let off lead but remain under control at all times.  When walking my dog, I expect him to walk calmly past you and your dog and I would like the same courtesy from you.  Whilst out on my walks an out of control dog may run over to me and my dog. You can be sure that the owner will be shouting from a mile away

“It’s ok, he’s friendly!” 

But what if my dog is not friendly, what if he is anxious or aggressive. A fight could start that results in either myself or my dog becoming injured.  It is not acceptable to let ‘out of control’ dogs off lead in any circumstance. 

Dangerous Dog Act

Not everybody likes dogs. Certainly most people would not appreciate a strange dog running towards them, jumping up at them and their families. The Dangerous Dogs Act states that if someone feels intimidated by an ‘out of control’ dog, it can be reported under the DDA and action taken against the owner and dog. New dog owners assume that it is compulsory to let them off lead straight away, it is not!  A dog should never be let off lead until it is fully trained and under control in all environments.

Many customers claim they have a recall, but then go on to say they have recall at home in the garden. They further explain that when out exercising off lead, the dog does not listen. The truth is they do not have recall, the dog is only obeying them because it has nothing better to distract it. An ‘out of control’, over excited dog is a danger to other dogs, livestock, people and itself.

Summary

Dog socialisation is extremely important, but not in the way many people assume. It is about teaching dogs to be calm, well mannered and indifferent. Furthermore, they should be under control at all times in all environments.

If your dog’s socialisation needs improving, then why not consider a training session with Vislor. We offer One-To-One training packages or a more intensive 3 Week Residential Boot Camp. We look forward to hearing from you.