The Importance of Socializing a Dog Getting Your Dog Comfortable with Others

The Importance of Socializing a Dog

Socializing your dog is important if you want them to be comfortable around unfamiliar faces and feel safe with them in public spaces. Read more about socializing a dog.

Dogs are man's best friend, right? All dog parents want their pets to be happy, healthy, and to live a full life. One of the best ways to ensure that this happens is to take the time to socialize your best friend with other people and with other dogs. Socializing a dog will allow the dog to become familiar with different situations and reduce the occurrence of anxiety or other behavior issues.

Introducing Your Dog to Other People

Socializing your dog can begin the first day you bring your new dog home, or at anytime if you already have a dog. When you begin training your dog, keep things low-key. If they get highly excited, it's more difficult to work with a dog. Get your dog used to the sound of your voice in a normal volume. Pet them, rub their belly or scratch them behind the ears--whatever seems to work. As they enjoy the attention, they'll come to associate good feelings with your presence.

When your dog is comfortable with you, bring another family member into the scenario. This may take some time; you have to judge your dog and go by their timetable. If you're introducing a new person into the socializing process, it might be a good idea to have them take the dog for a walk with you accompanying to ease any stress the dog may feel. As your dog becomes more social, introduce more people in the same quiet, easy-going manner. Soon your dog will realize that people are good to be around and lots of fun, too. 

Training Your Dog for Small Children

Care should be taken when introducing a dog to a small child. Dogs who seemingly get along fine with adults might not like children who tend to be more vocal and can startle a dog easily. Also, children can be more tactile, wanting to reach out and touch a dog before the dog is comfortable. While a child might like nothing more than to show the doggy how much they love him with a big hug, some dogs will not tolerate such behavior. Even if there are no small children in your house, you never know who you might meet while on a walk with your dog, or who eventually might be in your house if you invite guests with small children to your home. Regardless of how well-behaved your dog is with children, never leave them alone with any child under the age of eight, or any child who your dog is not familiar with.

A good habit to get into while walking your dog is to use the "heel" command. When someone approaches you and asks if they can pet your dog, have Fido sit, and then ask the the person to let your dog sniff their hand before petting. Most dogs enjoy the attention, and will soon welcome new greeters by sitting immediately with a wagging tail, just waiting for the love.

Meeting Other Dogs

Socializing your dog with other dogs is a smart thing to do, even if you have no intention of owning multiple dogs at the same time. Dogs are very social creatures and sometimes just need to have the company of their own kind. This is why dog parks are so popular. It is such a joy to watch dogs interact and play with each other. However, if you have a dog who isn't socialized, you and your dog could miss out on this great experience.

Before joining the local dog park and thrusting Fido into the mix, start off by taking your dog for a walk with a friend and their dog that has, preferably, an easy-going temperament and that is known to act well with other dogs. Keeping the dogs on their leashes with firm control is important, especially at the initial meeting. Just give them time to sniff each other and make their introductions, and then begin walking them. Watch how they interact, and you may soon see a companionship forming.

If you join a dog park, it's best to bring Fido when it isn't too crowded. Ease your dog into the group, which might be a bit overwhelming at first. Go by your dog's timetable. You have to read their cues to see when they are ready to interact with others, whether people or canines.

Properly socializing your pooch is a wonderful gift you can give your dog, your family, and yourself. It may take some time, but the benefits you reap will last a lifetime. It will make for a happier, healthier dog who is more enjoyable to be around and who is truly a member of your family. That is something all dogs want -- and deserve.

How do you do it for the individual breeds? Below you can find an example in Bichon Frise.

Socialize Your Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small white dog with a thick, puffy coat. As adults, they range from 10 to 22 pounds. These dogs can make wonderful pets with proper training and handling. They are widely regarded as social, friendly dogs, but even dogs with excellent genes can become skittish or aggressive without proper socialization. Further, every dog is an individual whose behavior can be influenced by a variety of factors, so not all Bichons Frises conform to what is "normal" for the breed. To ensure a healthy, happy Bichon Frise, socialize your dog from a young age and consider enrolling your dog in a training class. Owners of Bichons Frises should note that lapdogs, in general, tend to be clingier than many other breeds.

Energy Level

Bichons Frises retain a playful, puppy-like disposition well into adulthood, making them a good choice for families who want to romp in the backyard. They do not, however, require much exercise. A brief walk once or twice a day easily meets the dog's exercise needs. Because of their low exercise requirements, these dogs are unlikely to become hyper when they live in urban environments. These dogs are highly friendly and outgoing, and timidity or aggression are red flags that a dog needs the help of a qualified dog trainer or veterinarian.


Bichons Frises are highly sociable and bond strongly with their owners. They can be needy, and will paw at their owners to get attention. Despite this neediness, the Bichon Frise also has a strong independent streak. They may also become jealous of other dogs. They are generally gentle with children and other pets. However, some poorly bred bichons frises are skittish, which can result in fear biting. Proper socialization is vital for puppies who show signs of timidity. Because of their small size, Bichons Frises are easily frightened by rough handling, so small children should be closely supervised with these dogs.


The Bichon Frise is highly intelligent, which can be a mixed blessing. Left to their own devices, these dogs may come up with novel ways to entertain themselves and can be destructive when they are bored. They are only moderately trainable, and have a reputation for being uncooperative when bored. Owners should make training sessions brief and fun. Bichons Frises are highly receptive to positive, reward-based training methods.

Behavior Problems

Because of their independent dispositions, Bichons Frises can be difficult to house train. Owners should begin training early and use a crate to prevent accidents. Bichons Frises can also suffer from separation anxiety, and should not be left alone for long periods of time. They also have a tendency to bark excessively, and frequently overreact to noises with long bouts of barking.

More on Dog Training

20 Essential Dog Commands
Top 10 Dog Training Tips
How to Train a Puppy

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