How long does it take to make a dog be social?A fully social dog is a miracle to see, for anyone who owns an anti-social dog. Firstly what do you think social is?
There are probably many tech definitions of social dogs but I guess they should all lead to creating a dog that is able to mingle or initiate play or stay away from dogs depending on how the other dogs are acting.
Why is important to have a social dog?Well initially dog training and dog socialisation go hand in hand. But after you have trained your dog the basics. Stay, come, sit etc ... then that work is often done. Yes with some breeds you may need refresher course on dog training, but they are not usually a life long task.
Dog socialisation is usually done by dogs and opportunity with only slight guidance by the owners. A dog trainer cannot force a dog to feel comfortable with itself or other dogs. BUT exposure in a good environment (ie plenty of other social 'fun') dogs is the main method that this is accomplished.
Ironically we usually come across packs of social dogs and packs of non social dogs. Non social dogs are interested in fight or flight. They are anxious because they were not exposed to dog play at a puppy stage, or exposed continually after that.
A non social dog is not only more likely to get into a fight and end up at the vet and be expensive to you for its damage and the damage it does to others, but also it can run away and get hurt. In a crisis, or even breaking off lead in a pubic area with a road, it is unlikely to run back to you and also get harmed.
Social means that they are not anxious, they are not always running on adrenaline and likely to cause a mistake (fight) in the park.
How long does dog socialisation take?Of course this is dependent on what age you start, breed and temperament (submissive or dominant nature) and many other considerations.
Many papers have been written on dogs need to learn socialisation as a puppy usually before 4 to 6 months of age is over. If you try and socialise a dog later in life, or socialise a dog that has been isolated or punished regularly, your task is much harder.
BUT here is something that only pro dog walkers seem to know.
While with a lot of effort a very anxious dog (hunting and fighting breeds are the hardest to bring about usually) can be made social ... a very scared or 'damaged' dog may struggle the whole of their life to be helped.
AND the number of guided off lead dog walks, with other social dogs present, per week is directly proportional to how social they will become.
Most dogs that are fairly anxious will get physical walk benefit (on or off lead) and some mental benefit from dog park visits but are un likely to progress much in their social skills if not practiced regularly each week. NOTE this means two pro dog walker walks, plus even two or more owner on-lead walks around their suburb. Will teach the dog a little socialisation then keep them at a level, not progressing - for life.
We tend to find that THREE pro dog walker walks per week, and one or two owner off lead dog walks per week, ensuring the dog is walked EVERY morning before work, is the minimum that will see any kind of speed or increase in a dog's social development.
This is for both rescue dogs that are anxious or dogs that are already calm, but have not had a lot of off lead exposure. I have seen many dogs walked only once or twice a week in an off lead dog park, and while they can seem to be a lot calmer on the surface, they often have a strong anti social streak just below the surface and if they didn't play with dogs before the socialisation training, they won't engage after with only a couple of walks per week.
It is so gratifying for the owners and the dog walkers to see these dogs have these break throughs, even though it is often a lot of the dog pack work that by 'osmosis' lets the non social dog understand that it doesn't have to have its defences so high. Its trust of the dogs, and the dog walker. But when the miracle happens, we do appreciate the feedback.