🧠 Training

Understanding The Social Nature Of Humans and Dogs

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April 2, 2021

Key Takeaways

Dogs are one of the sweetest and friendliest humans ever have. These species are loving to the point that we call them every man's (human) "best friend." But how much sociable dogs can get? How much petting can humans give until it annoys them?

With social behavior, humans and dogs have a lot in common. It is essential to understand the similarities of our social nature to canines. 

How Social Are Dogs? 

Our furry companions are highly social species. They can play and live with humans in harmony. Some canines can even work with people like the bomb-sniffing dogs. In short, social interactions during specific times of their puppyhood are part of every dog's development process. Otherwise, there are dangers of having under-socialized fidos.

How To Train The Social Behavior of Dogs?

Dogs are loving, sweet, and fun to be with, but their social behavior depends on how the owner trains it. Social genes and the environment where the dogs live also affect its behavior. It's like raising a shy child - how would you help them mature to be more confident about themselves? Here are some tips in training the social behavior of dogs.

Social Bonds Between Humans And Other Breeds

According to Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., dogs have a certain period in their puppyhood called the "critical period" of socialization. In her book "The Other End Of The Leash," isolated puppies from human contact for five to twelve weeks could never react normally to people later in life.

This research proves that socialization between puppies to people and other breeds is crucial before reaching adulthood. The early weeks are vital for a baby dog. It is the time when puppies absorb information about their social companions and the environment. 

Thus, Dr. McConnell called it the "sensitive period." This period has no equivalent time during a dog's adulthood. When not used well for training your dog's social behavior, you can't make up for the lost time. You can still teach a matured canine, but it will never have the same results.

Balancing Socialization With Health Of The Pup

The first 4 to 5 weeks of a puppy's life is essential in socializing with people and other pets. But it is also when we usually have to bring the pup to the vet for vaccinations. So, be aware of the risks of exposing a baby dog that is not fully immunized yet. Otherwise, it can have higher risks to pathogens like parvovirus. It is a deadly virus that causes death to dogs.

So, plan and balance your pup's exposure outdoors and two strangers while ensuring that you get its vaccination updated. If you have a garden, you can let your fido play there and do some potty training. Until your dog gets all the vaccinations it needs to get fully immunized, avoid places that might have infectious viruses like dog parks.

Teach The Dog To Be At Ease Around Strangers

The first 4 to 5 weeks is crucial for introducing family members and other pets you probably have at home. But the first and most important part of socialization is over around week 12 or 13, according to Dr. McConnell.

Consider The Genes And Environment Where You Will Raise The Pup

It would help if you let the dog socialize and combine brain training, especially those that have shy genes. For example, a loving Labrador pup has friendly genes running through its blood. It can be sweet, even with children. But what about the environment where it will live?

Sometimes, a Labrador may not be sweet towards children if it doesn't see kids often. Once they get to their new families, puppies need time to adjust. They need to get used to their new human family, frequent visitors, and even neighbors.

Keep On Socializing Throughout The Year

Dogs mature faster than humans. A one-year-old pup may already have a maturity of 25 years to humans. So, what if you missed the first 13 weeks training the social behavior of a pooch? Should you stop?

Dr. McConnell stated that research has shown that the boundaries of these periods are not black and white. She said that even confident puppies tend towards being fearful as adolescents, which Dr. McConnell called "Juvenile-onset shyness." These are puppies who were relatively confident until they hit some important developmental stepping-stone. Then, they become cautious as they enter adulthood.

Just like children, puppies don't develop at precisely the same rate. Some are confident in their adulthood and suddenly become shy in teenage time. So, never stop training a pup at the 12th or 13th week. It's because even when they mature faster, dogs seem to continue developing about six to eleven months. Keep your pup socializing throughout the year. It can help you train your fido to go aggressive or fearful of unfamiliar faces and situations.

Bring Out The Best Of Your Pup's Social Behavior

Like humans, dogs also need interaction to mature with empathy. Social intimacy is essential to our furry companions as well. The visual signals we use may differ from dogs, but socializing is nearly the same. We both understand the value of personal space and the importance of balancing physical intimacy with social intimacy.

Let your dog explore the world that you live in. Introduce it to your family members and close friends. When you have all the vaccinations needed, let your pup mingle with other dog breeds and even cats. Familiarity is the perfect way to bring out your pup's best social behavior.

Introduce Yourself

Introducing yourself to the pup is the first thing you have to do, but it is the most essential. Aside from feeding and playing, petting the dog also helps. You can do belly rubs and head massages. But be careful because dogs also vary in reactions. Some will feel happy if you pet them, while others are already fine lying beside your feet.

Again, it all goes back to the genes and the environment where the pup will grow. 

A person's touch is not always soothing, especially with aroused dogs. The way you touch the dog can aggravate its emotions.

When petting your pup, do it right. Don't do a rough and rapid pat on the head. Do it smooth and slow petting with affection. Dogs also enjoy physical interaction with their human parents. But be mindful of its reaction whenever you touch the dog. Dogs love petting, but that does not mean that your every touch is always welcome.


Dogs also need exposure to lots of new humans, dogs, and other pets to be more comfortable. A well-socialized dog has a lot of benefits and living in harmony is one of them. Don't let your pup grow as if a defensive person with a machine gun and knives wrapped around its body. Let them know that unfamiliarity doesn't always mean threat.

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