Why not all social dogs are trained and vice versa

social dogs playing in waterWhilst it is true that any dog can become social, some breeds are more manageable for novices than others. 

Hunting dogs are often listed at the bottom of the list for intelligence, but this is very wrong - what the dog IQ is about is how easy they will bend to a humans training will and do what they are told. It means they will do it sooner than later and do it repeatedly.

Hunting dogs were bred by man to be independent and relentless and courageous. They were not bred to necessarily like other dogs or enjoy doing social things. Their smarts are in how they perform their jobs for their human hunters. And when taken off lead to social dog parks, they can become as social as any breed of dog. They might need more patient owners though ..

The difference between a trained dog and a social dog

To the untrained eye, this could seem like a trick heading, for surely a trained dog can be a social dog .. but guess what. these things are often mutually exclusive.

It seems that one of the dog breed groups that has the most success of being in both camps are working dogs - but these are often only the working dogs that are taken out for two hours each day. 

Many working dogs such as the border collie are considered to be the most intelligent on earth, because they know innately how to round up sheep, dogs and humans. But they are not always naturally born to be social. With having that focus on work, and often owner who just throw a ball repeatedly to retrieve any social behaviour can quickly be trained out of these dogs.

A trained dog is often considered to be one that has been trained by a professional trainer who has done somewhere between 3 and 6 months of course work a few days a week. They get a certificate and up to $200 or more per hour for solo training sessions.

They will help you with recalling your dog, sitting, stay and a good trainer will also step into dog behaviourist territory and help you solve anti social behaviour or problem areas around the house such as barking or rushing visitors at front doors etc.

As you can see that is all spectacularly good. A dog that does exactly what you want, as its told, but too often these highly trained dogs do their owners bidding in their house or back yard and may never see an off lead dog park regularly, let alone daily. Its almost like some form of perverse snobbery exists for dog trainers or the owners who have spent thousands of dollars to show you a dog that knows all the tricks. All that power?

Dog socialisation is almost the opposite end of the spectrum from obeying commands promptly on a spot. A good social dog should also have a minimum level of recall and preferably know commands such as sit and stay, but many of the dogs I walk just have recall, and sometimes only to a moderately level - healthy dog treats really help with that.

But the point about social dogs, and dogs walked daily is that they will be 100% mentally and physically fit, for the rest of their life.  And you can take them anywhere without fearing an 'incident' occurring. The off lead dog walk is their training in being social. How they react to new dogs approaching that may not have their level of social skill is the test moment by moment. 

The off lead dog walk includes all the dog fun of cataloguing smells in their brain, or the companionship of the pack satisfying primal drives that humans have little understanding of. That is what the social pack walk is about.

Why dog training and dog walking are mutually exclusive

NO it doesn't have to be this way, but it seems there are lot of people with highly trained (often powerful breed dogs or fighting dogs) that don't have time to take their dogs to off lead dog parks, or they  trust their dogs to follow commands and be friendly in those parks.

By the way a lot of people who take their dogs to volunteer run dog training clubs do walk their dogs a lot (and many of these are powerful guard dog breeds). 

This is a blanket statement that is not a truism. It is however curious how you rarely see these highly trained big powerful dogs in off lead parks. 

Because off lead dog walking done every day takes a serious time commitment from owners, particularly if it is done early in the morning to draining the dogs energy and have them not be bored at home. Then that is why people would often rather pay for a big chunk of money for training and then leave their dogs in their back yards, rather than do daily dog walks. Daily walks do take a lot more time commitment and potentially risk (if they have a dog that isn't fully social). But it is incredibly rewarding and a bonding experience that many dog owners miss out on.

When I see fully trained dogs that are 100% social dogs, I am very happy, I know that the dogs have a very caring owner and they will have the happiest of lives.  it is a shame that it seems that most people choose either one or the other. But one rather than none is always better for the dog.


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