Socializing your pup is no walk in the park, but avoiding this common mistake can help make it easier

Golden Retriever and boy lying on grass together
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Socialization is important for all dogs to learn. You’ll want your pup to get on well with both other dogs and humans after all, but sometimes, we as pet parents can make some simple (and very common!) mistakes that can derail their progress. 

It’s important to go easy on yourself if your dog doesn't always have a successful socialization session. We all make mistakes as dog owners — it could be adopting an incorrect training method or even something as simple as forgetting to buy a fresh bag of the best dog treats

But, it never hurts to take some simple advice on board – like this tip from Ruben Montes, owner and dog trainer at Kindred Dog PDX. Why not take a look at what he has to say in this recent Instagram post, all about what a lot of dog parents get wrong when it comes to socialization?

Montes begins by explaining that most dogs, when meeting one another, like to take things slow and sniff around first. However, he says that many dog parents expect their dogs to be playing and roughhousing in a good-natured manner straight away.

He expands in the caption, saying, “Most dogs in my experience are more of the take-it-slow kind of dog. They need time to build experience and familiarity. Not just to dogs but also people.

“Time and time again we get calls about meet-ups or dog park gatherings that went south. When we dive a little deeper we see that the dog in question was put into a situation that it wasn’t equipped for. It was overwhelmed.”

Montes explains that dog parents might then question whether their dogs are aggressive when a dog play fighting session doesn’t end well. However, it’s more likely to mean that your dog enjoys socializing, but “likes a cocktail party more than a mosh pit,” as he puts it. 

He finishes, “Some dogs are quick to play but that should be the exception and not the perceived norm. The norm should be working on coexistence first. Just being around each other without the expectation of playing with each other. I can tell you that taking the time in the beginning does wonders for the dogs’ overall relationship and will also make the interaction between them even better.”

It makes sense. When we meet new people ourselves, we might take it slow. Even the most sociable extroverts probably won’t meet someone for the first time and straight away start behaving as if they’ve been best friends for years. Let your dogs meet potential canine pals at their own pace, much as you’d like to be allowed to do when meeting new people. 

If you’re currently working on socializing a puppy, you might find these dog behaviorist-approved tips useful: I'm a dog behaviorist and these are my 6 tips for socializing a puppy.

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.