The purpose of this article is to highlight the issues of acceptable social behavior of dogs in modern society, and to acquaint the reader with methods of training dogs with adequate behavior for life in society as I see it.
When I talk about the adequate behavior of dogs in society, I speak, first of all, about dogs that do not cause harm and inconvenience to others. What behavior can be considered inadequate? It can be aggression and the obsessive molestation for any purpose, even the most peaceful, to strangers and animals.
Genetically, dogs are different. In simple terms, there are well-tempered and ill-tempered dogs. The question is whether socialization is necessary for good dogs that are happy to communicate with strangers and animals. In fact, the answer to this question is that it is not necessary. From the point of view of the owner, it is sweet to see how the dog plays with other dogs and communicates with people, but, as practice shows, such dogs often have an unbridled desire to communicate, which greatly interferes with others, and they often lack control.
This creates a lot of problems. How many times have we all found ourselves in a situation where it was impossible to walk calmly with the dog due to the fact that the joyful (or the not so “miraculous”) dogs come running to get to know your dog? And often the owners of these dogs do not bother to see your attitude toward the situation.
They are sure that this is necessary, and often look at you perplexedly and express unflattering epithets if you refuse their wonder of life the pleasure to meet and greet. If this happens, it means that their dog is absolutely disobedient, because this is the first sign of an irresponsible owner.
Responsible owners know that their dogs themselves, without permission, will never bother strangers. But beyond that, this behavior leads to a lack of contact with the owner, which is the number one problem that is solved by instructors. And the more a dog is allowed to communicate and play with other dogs, the less contact the dog has with the owner, as this satisfies its needs for communication elsewhere.
Can a dog play with other dogs? Yes, it is possible, but it can be allowed after good contact with the owner is established and the dog returns on demand. This communication must be fully controlled and with the full consent of the owners of other dogs.
Now let’s talk about the other category – ill-tempered dogs. Dogs with “strong” dominant characteristics and problematic temperaments go in this category. These are completely different categories. What is the difference?
• Strong dogs are dogs that have been chosen for the purpose of selection and reproducing protective qualities. They do not love strangers genetically. Their social circle is limited to family members and a few close associates (close friends who know these dogs well and the trainer who deals with such a dog). They are self-confident individuals who distrust strangers. Such a dog is able to independently guard the home and is able at any time to protect the owner.
• Dogs with problematic temperaments – “fear biters.” This, as a consequence of problematic genetics, is an insecure animal trying to escape its fears by intimidation and aggression towards others.
At first glance, for an inexperienced person, both may show the same behavior – distrust of others, the desire to bite during an unauthorized invasion of their “zone,” and sharp reactions to sudden, provocative movements of those around them. However, these two types are completely different animals. What is the difference?
The first, with proper growth, socialization, and training, are excellent social animals that are able to protect the owner and their property fearlessly to the end, keeping strong resistance and pressure from the offender.
The second will always remain unreliable and problematic no matter how long you train them. Life with them is always unpredictable. The realities of today’s life and modern breeding are such that many “guard” dogs (according to the average person), unfortunately, belong to the second type.
Is socialization necessary for the first type – the protective dog? No doubt, YES. And given its natural acuity (watchful reaction to changes in the environment) it should be socialized to a great extent. If this is not done in the proper amount, such dogs will be antisocial. While at home it will be a fighter, in public it can often seem cowardly aggressive due to the lack of social interaction experience.
Is socialization necessary for the second type? Surely, yes. But taking into account the peculiarities of their temperament, in order to avoid incidents, it should be conducted under the careful supervision of an experienced instructor.
Where and How to Socialize a Dog
It should be done under the supervision of an experienced instructor in a controlled environment. In other words, you should do it where there will be no danger of fighting with other dogs. Not all owners and even instructors understand the nature of these dogs. For them, a stranger on the street, with unauthorized, stretching hands stroking the dog, or leaning toward it to feed, is a provocation and a source of threat.
Among people there is a perception that all dogs easily, without demand, can be approached and petted or given a treat. And if the dog in response shows discontent or aggression, then it is automatically an inadequate dog. And if such an opinion takes place with regard to guide dogs, rescue dogs, or just pets, then with respect to protective guard dogs, it is extremely wrong! A guard dog that is friendly to everyone is an oxymoron! Are these dogs dangerous to society? They are not, of course; with proper training, these are super-controlled and predictable combat vehicles!