It is a popular misconception that ‘socialising’ of dogs primarily involves and indeed ‘requires’ interaction with other dogs. Rather, animal behaviourists and research tells us that socialising dogs should be fundamentally about exposing dogs to everyday living environments and events. These include footpaths and trails, traffic, busy community precincts such as parks and retail areas, heights, people, natural areas and all the activity and noise that goes with these.
Dogs exposed to these elements on a regular basis will be more comfortable when confronted with new and different environments. As a result dogs will be more relaxed, less fearful and more focused on and attentive to their owner. This assumes that both owner and dog have attended appropriate and effective education and training together ,and are ‘in tune’ with and trusting of each other
Another misconception is that dogs need to interact with other dogs in order to ‘be happy’ and well-socialised. There are significant benefits associated with puppies interacting with other puppies as part of age related socialisation. The same cannot be said of older dogs. As dogs progress through adolescence and adulthood most are less inclined to want to interact with other, and in particular unfamiliar dogs. The benefits of dog on dog interaction accrue more to the owner say many dog and human behaviourists. That is, it provides an opportunity for dog owners to socialise and form new networks and it brings owners, and indeed other onlookers a sense of joy to see dogs ‘at play’.