Dog Training World Forums General Dog Training Discussion Health and Diet 6-7 Wk Old Puppy – Socialization vs Safety??? Reply To: 6-7 Wk Old Puppy – Socialization vs Safety???

  • Allie Dellosa

    May 1, 2021 at 12:19 am

    I usually have people with puppies that young start obedience and then practice socialization with the following in mind (this is part of an article posted for my clients on the community page….mainly to explain why we don’t like dogs parks…I think Puppy classes are rather harmless….most training facilities and pet stores that offer training also offer “happy hours” which is like puppy play date hour….that is may be something worth checking out to avoid conflict in training styles.)



    1. the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.

    “preschool starts the process of socialization”

    There is often confusion that “socializing our dog” means: letting people (strangers) pet them and letting them play with other dogs at dog parks or meeting other dogs on leash.

    Most people want to be able to take their dogs places with them and have a productive and calm experience.

    Steps to achieve this:

    1) practice obedience in low stim environments leading up to more difficult environments

    2) Have our dog’s back: practice environmental awareness so that we can prevent unnecessary or counterproductive interactions

    3) Just say “no” to strangers touching a dog in training.

    Things to ponder regarding interactions with strangers and other dogs:

    1. Socializing with and accepting strangers is not a natural behavior for dogs. Although dogs do make friends and some dogs do enjoy playing with others, asking them to enter an enclosure with a high stimulation level is a set up for failure, and for our dogs to be put on the defense. It does not give them a natural and proper social introduction sequence, and since body language is everything between dogs, it can escalate quickly if a dog is unsure or if a dominant dog enters to meet other dominant dogs, already there. This is also true when dogs are leash. Their whole countenance is altered by the handler’s presence and attachment to the dog.

    2. Running around at the dog park does NOT equal socialization. Socialization is the ability to behave in socially acceptable ways in social settings. We don’t learn table manners playing at the park, we learn them at home at the dinner table, or etiquette classes. Playing with other dogs can be a part of social skills (if done in a controlled environment) but it doesn’t have to be. Socialized dogs are dogs that can be in public, that are not nervous around people moving by, cars, stimulation etc. Socialization DOES NOT MEAN: accepting of strangers touching them. It means they can maintain manners in a social setting without becoming stressed. If we allow stranger to handle our dogs ESPECIALLY if our dogs exhibit calming signals or avoidance, it can not only begin the warning and bite sequence, but it can damage our dogs trust in us to keep them safe. Most dogs do not appreciate strangers sticking their hands in their faces, bending over them or even making hard eye contact. Of course, genetics plays a huge part in the dogs’ reactions. IF a dog does enjoy interactions with strange humans, and they are allowed to interact with people on the walk, it makes it difficult and unfair for us to correct them for being excited and/or reactive when a person walks by. If they associate strangers approaching to excitement it is counter-intuitive to having a calm and collected dog in public settings; as well as making a formal heel in high stimulus situations much harder to train.