When many people first get a dog, they focus on the basics. House training. Sit. Stay. Don’t eat shoes. Don’t go through the garbage. These are all incredibly important lessons to teach a new puppy, but don’t forget another very important lesson: socializing.
What is Socializing?
Socializing is the process by which you introduce your dog to the concept of other people and other dogs. We often don’t think about socializing because we as humans do it naturally: our babies and toddlers often go out into the world in shopping malls, grocery stores, or daycare centers. No one is afraid of a baby and adults often come up to our children and talk to them, smile at them, make silly faces in the checkout line, etc. However, dogs generally stay in one area. They may have a fenced yard where they exercise or go to the bathroom. They stay in your house. Even if you take your dog on frequent walks (and you should), you probably don’t stop to greet people or introduce your dog to them. Having a puppy generally makes this easier since almost no one is afraid of new puppies, and children (or adults) often ask to pet the new puppy. Your dog also needs socializing with other dogs to curb aggression problems later in life. This can be tougher than socializing with humans, because many other dogs suffer from the same problems you’re trying to curb now. Other dogs don’t “play nice,” and you may be afraid they’ll cause an injury to your tiny puppy.
What Happens if I Don’t Socialize my Puppy?
You’ll experience greater problems when your dog reaches adulthood. They may not like children (or not know what to do with children). This is incredibly difficult on young couples who may want to start a family one day. If your dog isn’t socialized to other dogs, your dog may experience severe aggression later in life, which may prevent you from taking your dog outside the house (and furthering the problem). You may also be unable to get an additional dog.