Important Disclaimer: You can socialize your dog from the time they are born to the time they die.
This still does not guarantee your dog will ever be dog or animal friendly. Remember they are hardwired though centuries of genetics to be dog/animal aggressive. With that said, you should still make every effort to properly socialize your Pit Bull.
Why socialize my dog?
This is one of the questions we receive a lot. Socializing your dog is important because:
- You are teaching them about the world around them. Much like you would a human child. They learn from experiences.
- You are teaching them about specific places, people, and things. Cars, trains, bicycles, strange noises. They are learning about these things every time you take them out.
- Most of the dog bites in this nation are from loose dogs (that were chained up or in the back yard without contact) or dogs that are chained up. In short, they were never socialized properly.
Essentially, the more your dog learns about the various things they will encounter day in and day out. The better behaved they will be. Not to mention you will know exactly what causes them to be afraid, happy, nervous etc…
7 Quick Tips to Make Socializing your Pit Bull Easier
1: Begin early. The earlier the better. But especially focus on the time they are 3-12 weeks old. This is the time they learn things and retain them the best. Showing them things slowly at this stage is a good idea. Keeping in mind, until they have had their first set up shots do not get them around other dogs.
2: Get them around as many people as possible. Tall, short, heavy, wide, male, female, loud, quiet, as many types of people you can introduce them to. Avoid really crowded areas until they have been socialized slowly to those situations. Get close but not in the thick of it all. Expose them slowly.
The Pit Bull Training Handbook
3: Always maintain control of the situation. In other words, don’t take them to the dog park only to have 10 dogs freak them out. This does nothing but set you and them back. Put them in situations you control.
4: Always make it positive. Sometimes this isn’t possible though. Some dogs will react to things you would think wouldn’t be a big deal.
Take for example the time I was putting a garbage bag in the bin. My youngest dog flipped out. Though she had never shown fear of a garbage bag her whole life. It was the act of me popping it open to put it in trash can that scared her.
So you will want to be aware of situations like that one. If at all possible set the situation up before hand.
5: Avoid dog parks. This is one of our pet peeves. I liken dog parks to a football match between two rival teams in England. While 90% of the people there are there to root for their team peacefully, you always have the hooligans. Those people who are there to do nothing but cause trouble. Same thing goes for dog parks. Most of the people there are friendly and so are their dogs. Others (the ones that matter) are completely clueless and rude.
These dog park hooligans are the ones that can ruin your attempts at socializing your dog.
Want to get your pup around other dogs? Take them to a couple puppy classes to socialize your pup. And get a little training too (more on this in a future article).
6: When socializing older Pit Bulls with other dogs. Take it slow and make sure it’s on neutral ground. Home territory may spark a territorial aggression issue with one of the dogs.
I would set this up with a trusted dog. In other words, a dog that your friend owns or someone in your training class. One that you know is well behaved with other dogs.
7: Take it slow and don’t expect to much. This is a process that if you mess it up, can have a life long impact on your dog. I’m guilty of this, to this day my dog Angel freaks when I raise my voice. Simply cause I didn’t pay attention to her fear signs when I got angry one time when she was 13 weeks old. Above all else get out there and have fun! Take it light but keep in mind the effect things can have on your dog. These tips also work for older dogs as well.