But He Should Love Every Dog; A Lesson on Sociability
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
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.
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.
- Or tries to get away
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!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.