But He Should Love Every Dog; A Lesson on Sociability

couple of dogs in love sleeping together under the blanket in bed

couple of dogs in love sleeping together under the blanket in bed

Do you like every person you have ever met?

Do you like all people immediately?

Or are there some people that immediately turn you off?

Have you ever liked someone and then changed your mind?

Have you ever disliked someone and changed your mind?

I know, I know that is a lot of questions.

But, I constantly hear people who want to force their dogs to interact with every dog they meet.

The truth is that we humans aren’t all social.

Some of us are introverted and have social anxiety.

Some people are just unfriendly and unkind and don't like people.

Some people are overly extroverted and friendly and can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

And, then there is the person that is somewhere in between the extremes.

Despite the fact that I have had a very fruitful career, I am socially awkward but I can pretend to be an extrovert when I am at work or in charge.

I am an Introvert

two dogs fighting in the snow

two dogs fighting in the snow

Although I enjoy the company of people that I know, I am not overly social when I am out and about.  I don’t like shopping; so when I am out, I am a woman on a mission.  I typically don’t even look up or look at people.  I could probably walk past my sister and not notice.

So I empathize with dogs who do not want to socialize with every dog that they meet!

Let Us Be Honest

I will admit there are people that turn me off by sight.

Perhaps it is their behavior.

Perhaps it is my  6th sense.

I’m not sure.

But there are occasionally people who make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I remember years ago reading a book called “The Gift of Fear” where the author by Gavin de Becker who had worked with an impressive amount of police departments describes why we have this sixth sense and why ignoring it puts us in danger for violence.

He describes how women feel guilty when they have this sense and ignore it which puts them at risk for rape and murder.  Ever stood next to someone at an elevator or other secluded area and felt uncomfortable.  He says that women feel guilty about their preconceived notions and instead of listening to their six sense and leaving or taking another elevator they put themselves in dangerous positions.   I recommend everyone read the book.  Every time I have this feeling about someone and I feel bad, I try and reference the book and instead follow my instincts and keep myself safe.

So Why Then

So why then, if we as humans don’t like every human we see or meet; do we expect our dogs to like every dog they see or meet?

If they are shying away, growling, hackling or just plain aloof why, oh why would anyone want to force an interaction that can end in violence?

I am human.

I have more reasoning skills than a dog, on most days.

Occasionally, I am forced to socialize with someone I don’t care for.  But, as an adult I take this in stride and distance myself if I need to.  I am not going to punch someone in the face just because I don’t care for them or they say something I find offensive or they get in my face.

However, dogs are like toddlers.

This is a picture of my 2 dogs that don't get along.  The tan little guy is the aggressor and he is on leash and I am petting him with my foot.  But I would never trust them alone together.  They tolerate each other because they respect me

This is a picture of my 2 dogs that don't get along. The tan little guy is the aggressor and he is on leash and I am petting him with my foot. But I would never trust them alone together. They tolerate each other because they respect me

And, I am sure all parents know that not all toddlers get along either.

If you force them, there might be an altercation, and it could be serious.

But, dogs don’t always change their minds and this can be dangerous or even deadly.

People think that if they socialize the dogs together long enough they will eventually get along.   This isn’t necessarily the case.

Rarely will people tell you that their dog has already attacked another dog; they want to think it was a one time incident or it wasn't their dog's fault.

I believe once there has been a bite or an attack or constant threatening; then it isn't really worth risking anymore.

Could you socialize the dog out of it?  Maybe but it is worth risking your dog and another dog's life?

In my opinion, it just isn't.

A human will never truly know when their dog will it will meet another dog of the same personality type and intolerance.

I have owned dogs that don’t get along and no amount of force was going to make them enjoy each other’s company.

I can control them together with great obedience, but I would never allow them to be alone together uncontrolled.

I Find it Absurd

I kind of find it absurd to think that every dog walking down the street will be liked by every other dog.

Some dogs just walk with attitude; looking for a fight but not necessarily in a manner that most dog owners recognize.

Can I spot one of these bullies?  YES!  But most people know nothing of dog body language.

I would like to think that owners of only highly social dogs (those crazy extroverts) take their dogs to dog parks; but I hear stories from clients frequently about taking their anti-social dogs to the dog park; even after a fight and a bite has occurred.

Some people even take their dog BACK after they have had to pay for another dog's stitches!

I used to have a very social dog, who loved dog parks and was submissive to all dogs… but in today’s day and age I think I might avoid them no matter what.

Too many people with dogs that have no manners who want to force an antisocial dog with no obedience to socialize.

I think the incidence of unsocialized dogs with a low bite threshold is much higher than it was even 5-10 years ago!

Take it From Your Dog

If your dog doesn’t want to socialize, for whatever reason (you might not be able to explain it but he may have his reasons, dogs read each other far better than any of us ever can!) please don’t force him.

If HeDepositphotos_23720003_s-2015

  • Stiffens
  • Growls
  • Stares
  • Hackles
  • Freezes
  • Or tries to get away

Don't force!

If the dog that your dog wants to socialize with seems aloof or doesn’t want to socialize or shows the behaviors listed above don’t push it!

Put yourself in his shoes!

Would you want to be dropped off and expected to socialize with just anyone, especially if that person is giving you a look that terrifies you?

Even some dogs that coexist will never truly like and snuggle with each other.

I don’t like EVERYONE

I don’t want to spend actual real R&R time with many people at all!  And, I avoid parties like the plague!

And, I empathize and feel bad for the dogs of human social butterflies who think all dogs should and want to socialize!

It can be a dangerous or even deadly mistake.

Control around other dogs is a much better choice!

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  1. My toy poodle,three months ago,was attacked by a rottweiller, at the dog park. Formally,a dog, that enjoyed socializing with most other dogs,since rhe attack,as soon as a larger dog enters the park, he runsto me, leaps on my lap, and refuses to move , until the larger dogs have gone.No amount of coaxing will get him to move. Usually we end up having to leave park. any suggestions how I get him over this fear? Thanks Terry


    Minette Reply:

    Stop taking him to big dog parks, only use small dog parks or places where he can have daycare and socialize with dogs his size.

    Once we, or something else breaks them; it is hard if not impossible to “fix” or force them.


  2. Dogs Rescued says:

    Food for thought, thanks for sharing these ideas!


  3. Helen says:

    I have a 14 month old Belgianallinois. She has been shy since day 1. It took. Forever to get her to walk on lead. She is not social. I don’t care about that but have a problem getting her into a car. She attended two train g classes. She stop getting in the car after two negative experience in dog training. I have tried real food dog bones letting my son be in 3012445194car first. She
    resists like a jack ass. I mainly worried b c I have to get her to Vet apt. The Vet finally prescribed Paxil. She is calmer but I haven’t tried car yet. She is most loving dog in our family system. I am very careful when we go for short AM walks. I make her wear a soft muzzle use gentle leader, and a harness. If I see someone coming at us I move away, make her sit and let the person walk by. I turn and walk the other way
    I realty don’t want to keep her on medication. I don’t want another training. Suggestions please


    Minette Reply:

    feed her in the car and embrace medication if it helps. I am about to publish an article on medication and why it is important for some dogs


  4. Joanne Farmer says:

    Love this article. I have 3 dogs. A Pom-a-Poo, a Pom and a German Shepherd.
    The Pom a Poo is very aggressive around other dogs. I can’t take him anywhere. With me at home he is the sweetest. He loves the little Pom but has never taken to the German Shepherd. Wants to fight her all the time. Luckily the Shepherd is the kindest dog in the world. I do not believe in dog parks. I realize the Shepherd
    (Annie) and Buddy will never get along. Buddy is ten years old and I have to muzzle him to even take him to the vet. He hates people and animals. Holly the little pom is 13 and Annie is 3. I love them all but I have to contain Buddy when anyone comes over or if I go out. I wish Buddy would get along and not be so mean but it is what it is. Thanks for listening. Joanne


  5. Danielle Stuber says:

    I have two dogs that I consider “socially awkward”. Both of them were fine until my Pug got jumped on in an agility class and a fight started and my Aussie had an incident at a show where another owner was busy shopping at a vendor and her Poodle rushed out and attacked him while we were walking by.

    Luckily, my dogs have a lot of training and they can behave around other dogs at training and shows, but I will never expect or ask them to interact with other dogs and I always do my best to protect them (and the other dogs!) from bad situations. Still, a lot of people give me disgusted looks when I ask them to move their dogs back or give my guys some space.

    I think the important thing to remember, in addition to all of your great points, is that an agressive or reactive dog is not always the fault of person at the end of the leash. Only in the case of an agreesive/reactive dog that is also out of control and mismanaged can you truly know that the handler is at fault.

    Just as people shouldn’t force their own dogs to socialize, they also shouldn’t judge other handlers who refuse to make (or even allow) their dogs socialize. 🙂


    Minette Reply:



  6. Ingrid Gillette says:

    I have a ShiTzu and she freaks out every time she sees another dog. She used be able to play with other dogs, mostly dogs around her size. My husband actually received 4 stitches breaking up a fight. I would love to be able to take her to a park and play, but she can’t handle it. She can’t even walk without barking at other dogs.



  7. Lois says:

    This discussion hasgiven me new insite into my Diva Papillion. She is very social to people, i never force her with people. She loves the attention.

    However the K-9 species not much at all. I have only seen her play with two dogs, a rotty mix, and a Chawawa. The smaller dog was by far a friendlier play. After reading this article, I will never encourage her to leave her comfort zone with other dogs.


  8. Janet says:

    I like what you said in this article. I’m with you, I don’t like everyone I meet so why force my dog too. I have two dogs a mini dachsund Abby, who weighs 9 lbs. Shes nine. A GSD Sadie, who weighs 79 lbs. she’s only 8 months. My daughter has litter mates to both of my dogs. Her mini doesn’t even like her sister, Abby. She’s very antisocial. Her GSD and my Sadie love each other and are together as often as possible. Sadie, does not like another dog to approach her. I take her to doggy daycare occasionally to get a little more one on one playtime with a dog her size. Away from home being introduced in a calm and friendly manner Sadie will warm up and play with a dog her size. I don’t feel a need to force her to interact with other dogs. Dog parks can be a dangerous place because not every dog owner is watching their dogs and some may not have had their shots. There was an outbreak of lepto in our area so our dog had to have this shot as well as her others. People who have the opportunity to join in on some of your training techniques should take it. You have the right attitude and a good “dog spirit”. I have a few of your DVDs. Very informative. Keep up the good work, Janet


  9. Susan says:

    My dog likes people much more than any dogs. If we go to a dog park, he’s trying to jump into the aps of the other pet owners (most of whom let him because he’s so darn cute) – but the dogs I want him to socialize with are forgotten. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    I would teach manners. But again why are you trying to force him to be something he is not?

    I allow my dog social dogs to socialize with other dogs but I like them to do what they like.

    If he likes people more, teach him to sit or down and stay for affection.


  10. Lynda says:

    I haven’t read the book you mention but a long time ago I read a magazine article that could have been based on that book. It was fascinating. I never ignore my sense about someone or some situation now.
    Thanks for the article. I wish every dog owner would put effort into learning about dogs and training them. There are so many clueless people out there. I am not clueless due to your blogs and the 2 online courses I took from you.
    Sometimes I softly try to clue people in but they don’t seem interested in how to properly handle their dog. I think that is strange.


  11. Lorna Applefield says:

    I have a Pomeranian. I would never take him to a dog park. Instead, we congregate with other owners of small dogs at a park that we all enjoy. It’s not a dog park, but one where dogs are welcome. We keep to ourselves in a private area of the park, or sometimes, at one of our own yards. Humans get along, and so do our dogs. This has been great socialization for our babies. We’ve developed a great group of friends, and on Fridays we meet with wine and snacks…We call it Wet Friday. Anyone can do this, you just have to be social enough to approach each other with the idea. These ‘Meet-Up’ groups are cropping up all over…Try it, you’ll love it.


  12. Gillian Wickham says:

    I have a 8 month old German Shepherd she does not like any dog, she barks constantly at them even if they are yards away. I put this all down to an incident when she was 8 weeks old and a Great Pyrene about a year old pounced on her. Its been down hill from there. I know its a fear thing because if the dog comes near she will run away and yelp. How can I help her? Any advice greatly appreciated.


    Minette Reply:

    I teach my dogs eye contact and focus so they can’t pay attention to anything else.

    One of my dogs would like to be a little dog aggressive but I don’t allow him to look around and look at them. Search for my article on eye contact and focus in the search bar at the top of the page. And, I think out Aggression Course would help you as well when we run it again.

    you can contact Dana at info@thedogtrainingsecret.com to be put on the list when we begin another.


  13. Carys says:

    I have two border collies and there is no such thing as a dog park where we live but we do have a lovely beach. My bitch who is 9 loved everybody and everything and other dogs as a puppy until one day on the beach she was chasing her ball and two german shepherds appeared from nowhere and started chasing her. The owner was a long way off and she was terrified – they caught up but didn’t hurt her and the owner eventually appeared and called them off. Ever since that day she stops chasing her ball whenever another dog comes near and she does not like any strange dogs that are in twos. My other dog is six and a rescue and he obviously was not socialised as a puppy as he seems to have no idea how to intereact with other dogs though gradually he is learning how to trust dogs he meets on a regular basis. I never force him to meet other dogs but it is very difficult when he is minding his own business and another uncontrolled dog runs up and gets in his personal space. He will warn them with a snarl or growl and usually they back off though there have been a few brief scuffles with no harm done. On lead he tends to bark at other dogs but is quiet and calm with dogs he knows and trusts and ever so gradually he is learning that not all strange dogs are out to get him. I’m assuming something bad happenned in the past that he has not forgotten. He is basically a big baby but with a lot of patience he is gradually learning how to play and he gets on well with my bitch though I know they will never be best friends (they sleep on the bed together at night)


  14. Ian Grose says:

    I’m diverging a little, but I agree with your saying we should trust our instincts and respect our dogs instincts when it appears they don’t feel comfortable with another dog.
    I teach self defence and I tell my students that their most powerful self defence “tool” is their instincts. If they feel they are in danger, they probably are. It’s the subconscious reading body language and drawing on past situations to alert them to possible danger. A dogs instincts are probably better developed than ours, so don’t ignore it. Incidentally, women have much better instincts than men – call it women’s intuition if you like, but it is a very real thing.


  15. Barbara says:

    My English Bulldog gets along great with dogs over 30 pounds but does not like smaller dogs when they are yappy. I do not understand why small yappy dogs are allowed to go in the large dog parks. It just does not make sense, especially when the big dogs are not allowed in the small dog section section.


  16. christine says:

    Great article I don’t go to dog parks not any near here anyway. I have a 2 yr old rescued Min PIn/Chihuahua Bella she is friendly with other dogs and people. A 16 yr old Chi was my daughters dog packed his bags and moved in with me last year when my last little dog had cancer was like he knew. Is fine with other dogs we see out walking. I took in a 18 month old German Shepherd 2 months ago he is pretty calm for a puppy is very sweet gets alone with Bella they play play play. I say she is a German Shepherd in a small body and Trooper is 90 lb puppy tiny dog in a big dog body!! Trooper is very smart taught him to sit before I throw his toy bring it to me drop it then sit after 5 throws. He was crate trained in fact after they all go out first thing to go potty some times he goes in his crate on his own the routine is he goes in the crate and I take the small dogs for a walk come home then take him, once he’s let out of the crate he goes straight to were the leashes are hung up he now knows humans go out the door first. We are working on paying attention to Mom but those darn bunnies just are to much for him. I have had German Shepherds most of my life and I know with his background and 4 homes in his short life it will take a lot of patience and time I think he knows he is here forever and has pushed the boundry’s he does have seperation anxiety and gets very exited when anyone comes over .He goes in his crate when I am gone and I never leave them for more than 4 hrs. My problem is the old Chi he is a grumpy old man if Bella and trooper are playing if he is awake he starts growling sounds like Cujo, outside if Trooper goes and sniffs him he is fine goes on about his business so I put him in his crate if I can’t be watching them I just think one day Trooper will get tired of the old man and put him in his place trooper is 90 lbs the bossy old man is 7 lbs. I have not seen seen any dogs close when out with him I don’t know how he would act.
    Sorry this is so long..


  17. Donna Smith says:

    I was glad to hear your comments. I thought there was something wrong with me because when I go to a dog park ( I go just because this one is a very pretty woodsy area to walk and I keep my dog on a leash) I pretty much always feel there are too many people walking who are not paying any attention to their dogs as they come up to us. The last time I was there, I decided no more walks in the dog park. My dog is very submissive but the other dogs make me nervous.


  18. John Harold says:

    We just adopted a pair of male dogs, a ShihTzu and a miniature schnauzer. These characters are inseparable buddies. We have a neighbor who has a Visla. The Shih Tzu has attacked the Visla and of course the schnauzer got into the act. The prior owner relates there were no problems when she walked the dogs in the park. It seems I have adopted a K9 thug gang. It’s only big dogs that cause the problem. These characters can only go outside on a leash.


  19. tony says:

    can men have this six sense with danger to .my blue heeler is very agressive to other dogs she is great with people ,i have social anxity too


    Minette Reply:

    Yes, I think men and women have a sense when something is not right. But men usually roll with their feelings; it is women who have been taught to feel guilty about that sixth sense… most of the time but not always


  20. barbara says:

    I have a 2 1/2 yr old rescued dachshund/beagle mix, about 23 lbs. We do go to the small dog park and I can usually sense when he does not like dogs coming in bigger than him. He has twice almost gotten into a fight with a boston terrier, Must be the breed. I kept the leash on so i could pull him away. He does not like any large dog. I try to be aware. He is great with smaller dogs. However, some people do not watch their pets and just let them be. Not a good idea


  21. Catherine Carcich says:

    Thanks so much for your information we have a Mini Pincher 5months old name Ace not social very good with family but gets afraid when in social surrounding
    We love him very much but people want to pet him give a treat still will not go to them can you tell me how we can help him to be more relaxed will not force him But never had a small dog but want to do what is best for Ace can you give me more information on this topic. Thanks So Much Catherine Carcich


    Minette Reply:

    Don’t allow people to push him past his comfort zone! If you do he could get aggressive.

    Instead have people toss him treats and teach him some confidence through obedience!


  22. Gabriel Tayo says:

    My German Shepherd is too friendly to everyone and am not happy about it. What do I do to make him unfriendly to strangers?


    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/terrifying-dog/


  23. KELLY says:

    PLEASE HELP… My 2 yr old Plott hound mix (we think pointer) gets so worked up and excited to play with other dogs she barks and pulls to go after every dog she sees. The barking sounds like she is being aggressive but once she is next to the other dog she wants to play. Other dog owners pull their dogs back or look like my dog is going to bite. She is super gentle at play and with kids and other people. She plays nice at the dog park also. She lives with our 2 other dogs as well. What do I do to stop this.


    Minette Reply:

    Work on obedience don’t let her pull and I would teach her quiet. You can look up help for all of those by using our search bar above


  24. barrie kinney says:

    We rescued Major almost a year ago, he has issues with dogs leashed. Any dog walking with owner or tied in front yard. When I’m walking him he gets very agressive, but if their is a wondering dog he doesn’t seem as aggressive and more interested. My boyfriends nephew came over a couple months ago with his dog Charlie, mind you…they never met before and this was their 1st time meeting. Told Dan to bring Charlie leash free and the two of them got along like cousins! Is there any suggestions or will this just be what we have to look forward to?! It must be something in his past…maybe he was tied!?!?


  25. Patty says:

    I have a mini schnauzer (Lola). She barks at all dogs. Doesn’t matter the size or gender. When we walk, she gets crazy when she sees or hears dogs around. And forget it if someone else is walking their dog. It’s embarrassing! She’s so sweet otherwise. I would never go to a dog park.
    Do you think some species of dogs are worse than others?


    Minette Reply:

    Yes, some breeds are worse


  26. Diane says:

    All good comments. But I would like to be able to take a walk with my 60lb boxer x without having him freeze numerous times during the walk. And it isn’t always moving objects. Sometimes I think he just smells something and freezes.
    Sometimes I wonder if he might have been a bait dog before I rescued him.


    Minette Reply:

    Then teach him an alternative behavior like watching you and being rewarded


  27. Jody Karow says:

    Great advice Minette! Often times I have thought we need to get back to common sense with our dogs. We’re putting them in many more social situations than in the past and we need to know how they are coping in our big modern world. We are quite fotunate in Minnesota. We have many dog parks that span for acres, giving plenty of space to hike off leash with your dog or join a play area. More options for people seems to work best. Hope we get to meet someday. 😉


  28. Diane says:

    What I do when George the boxer x freezes is stand I fron of him and wait until he looks me in the eye which can take a few minutes sometimes then I tell him it is ok to proceed and praise and pet him when he he begins walking again. Is that what you mean?


    Minette Reply:

    no read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/eye-contact-focus-behavior-broken/


  29. Diane says:

    And he will not take treats when out walking


    Minette Reply:



  30. Margaret Hudson says:

    have male pitbull for 5 yrs. rescued a female pitbull 3yrs ago. tried to socialize them resulted in two horrible fights. I cannot get rid of my rescue. I love them both. Finally decided to just keep them separated. Works for now, but I am never relaxed. Would appreciate hearing your thoughts. Thank you.


    Minette Reply:

    Read the article, as it states sometimes separate is all you can do if you choose not to rehome. You can’t force one dog to like another.


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