How to Tell if a Dog Is Well-Socialized

Socialization is a very important part of the dog's life. This process plays an essential role in the development of their personality, character, and behavior.
How to Tell if a Dog Is Well-Socialized

Last update: 16 April, 2019

It’s not only important for a dog to be well-socialized, but it’s also vital that you’re able to recognize when they are and when they’re not.

For this reason, we thought you might like some tips on the subject. In this way, you’ll be able to analyze and judge your “parenting” skills.

Imprinting is a socialization process that will define a dog’s personality and behavior. It should begin when a dog is still young. A well-socialized puppy will grow up to become a well-adjusted adult without behavioral problems of any sort.

Filial imprinting produces a well-socialized dog

Well-socialized dogs fulfill their natural filial imprinting process. Right after birth, puppies should be with their mother and siblings for at least two months. This turns them into members of a family. It’s at this stage that they learn about and accept that there’s a hierarchy within their social group.

Furthermore, the animal should get along with other dogs and have no problem interacting with other members of its species as an adult. But, how can you tell if a puppy has had adequate imprinting?

When you meet a puppy that you’re considering for adoption, carefully observe and analyze its behavior so you can determine the quality of its imprinting. A puppy with healthy filial imprinting won’t be afraid of you, will come to you and be ready to play. They’ll do the same with everyone else.

A timid, scared, excessively quiet puppy didn’t have good imprinting, most likely. They were probably separated from their mother too early and they could have behavioral issues later in their life.

A puppy in a box.

Adapting to their human family

A dog usually has no trouble getting used to their new home, to the food, their bed, etc. However, if the dog feels uncomfortable, it means they’re not well-socialized.

Dogs are social creatures and should easily adapt to different members of the family, be they adults or children. An innate interest in integrating into the “pack” is a sign the animal is well-socialized.

Adapting well to others

A well-socialized dog won’t just get along with their family, but with other people too. It’s always weird to have a dog who’s very loving with us but then growls or even tries to attack other people. This could even cause us legal problems in the future.

A dog without traumas will be nice and friendly to all people, regardless of how often they’re around.

Playing nicely with other animals

In regard to their relationships with other animals, well-socialized dogs will get along with them regardless of their species. They won’t growl at them or try to attack them, but, instead, will try to play and be part of that group, just as their genes compel them to.

Also, they shouldn’t have problems interacting with other animals. If your dog gets along with your family and other people, but doesn’t get along with everyone else, then they might have socialization issues.

They won’t experience separation anxiety

A person sitting on the grass with a puppy on her lap.

It’s normal for your dog to want to be around you all the time and to even be a little sad when you go away and leave them behind for any reason. But sometimes your absence leads to extreme, destructive or annoying behaviors. These can include compulsive barking, breaking things, incessantly scratching doors, and so on. This is a sure sign that they have separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety disorder is usually a result of bad socialization. For this reason, it’s best to get advice from a vet or a trainer on how to correct it.

If they think that the dog requires more than a few simple guidelines and, perhaps, some medication to calm them down, it’s very likely that you’ll need a psychologist or a canine behavior specialist.

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The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.