How to Socialize a Dog

dogs socializing


Puppy Vaccination

Puppies should see a vet before you take them around other dogs. Parvo and other diseases can be expensive, and you should take the proper precaution and make sure your dog is vaccinated before taking them to dog parks and other areas that can increase exposure.

Older dogs should have all their shots up to date. Make sure you are sure you are on top of it. The last thing you want is your dog getting sick because of immunizations when trying to socialize a dog .

Now that we got that out of the way let’s talk about how to make your dog social.

How to make dog more friendly

There is no one way to make your dog friendlier. You must use everything you can. The main goal is to get your dog familiar with different situations when you socialize a dog.

Making your dog respect and trust you is the first part of the equation. When dogs are anti-social, they tend to be more nervous or scared or normal noises and interactions.

Take your dog outside and letting them hear all the noises the outside world has to offer is a great benefit. When a dog is nervous of sounds like a motorcycle, car passing by at a normal speed, dog barking etc. there is a lack of exposure.

If you want to help the dog become friendlier and more normal expose them to these noises as often as possible. Have them around dogs as much as possible.

Nose vs Eyes

We know for a fact that dogs that use their nose are more social. They want to smell other dogs which is a normal activity. Dogs who never want to smell are prone to becoming aggressive over the long term.

One thing that should always stick out to you is how your dog uses its nose, if it does at all. When they don’t you will notice more barking and less curiosity.

You should always look and make sure your dog is exercising their nose and at times you need to help them out.

6 Principles for Achieving Balance: Nose, Eyes, Ears.  

Eye Contact

Dogs that are social don’t make strong eye contact. They use less eye contact. Dogs that are on the less social side will use very strong eye contact. The reason is trust. Reaching a state where you socialize a dog the eye contact will tell you a lot. 

When a dog is more uncomfortable, they will watch everything moving. Putting their head on the ground and not looking at the other dogs around is something a comfortable dog would do.

Pay attention to the way your current dog uses this eye contact. Notice if the dog is comfortable or uncomfortable.

When you are looking to buy a dog or adopt a dog you will notice the same thing. When a dog looks extremely uncomfortable it is hard to get them to become comfortable.

Here are a few signs to look for:

  1. Do they lay down with their head down or with their head up?
  2. Can they lay down with their head down not bothered by the presence of others?
  3. Are they always showing alert body language (ears up, tail up, or looking tall)?
  4. Is there body language showing good signs (ears down, tail down, not looking tall)?

When you factor in these small observations it tells you a lot about which type of dog you are getting.

This is one of the best videos that can will drive this point home.

Using the nose

Help the dog use its nose in different circumstances when you are introducing new things to them. Before you put the leash on them make sure they sniff it until they turn their head indicating that they’re done smelling it.

Do the exact same thing for the leash before you hook the leash on let them smell it.

Hide their dog bowl and make them find the bowl. Put it in a place you wouldn’t put it. Make sure the can is in their so they can catch the strong scent.

Continue to create these different opportunities and watch the dog use their nose on a consistent basis.

Engaging the nose is the best way to socialize a dog.

How to introduce two dogs

When you have two dogs you can do it the wrong way and the right way. When two social dogs meet for the first time they sniff from a distance. That means they aren’t lifting the other dog’s lower body in the air just to sniff. That’s rude behavior.

The excitement level is much lower. A tail wag but no jumps and flips in the air. Socialize a dog while exhausted and they will display greater social skills.

They will go to the back of the dog around the stomach and tail area instead of straight to the face.

In this video the puppy is displaying excellent and comfortable socializing skills at a young age. Notice how the puppy is going to the stomach and tail area of the older dogs?

How to socialize with a new puppy

Make sure you have the puppy working out before they meet new dogs. Energetic dogs can cause some static with other dogs and you will hear a growl or bark when the puppy is too energetic.

Give them a walk and then proceed with letting them meet other dogs. When the puppy goes to sniff respectfully, they won’t have an issue with older dogs that are socialize.

Don’t take the puppy around dogs that aren’t trained or social. One event can change the way the dogs view these interactions and may make them untrustworthy of the exchange.

If you have them around dogs that will behave and let them socialize, they will begin to trust you when you have them meet new dogs and won’t be on the edge because of a past event.

How to Socialize a Dog with Aggression

Make sure these are in controlled settings with a dog that can handle themselves. Don’t bring a small dog to a powerful breed that is out of control.

First things first make sure you get the dog three to four hours of various exercise. I would make sure for a few weeks he’s taking that aggression out for runs and walks.

Giving the aggressive dog an outlet moves the needle forward.

Next you need to correct all alert body language while on these exercise sessions. When you take the time to consistently correct that behavior the dog will become trained and realize he needs to find a different way to handle situations.

Last thing is to bring them around other dogs that are well behaved. When you go to have them, sniff make sure they are not using any body language that would suggest they’re in the wrong state of mind.

Let them sniff the other dog from the rear and if everything looks good, they should be able to sniff and have a nice meet and greet.

If you skip any of these steps, I would recommend that you consult a professional. To socialize an aggressive dog is dangerous. Dog aggression isn’t something somebody who has little to no experience should deal with alone.

Socialize dog with humans

When your friends and family come over to the house make sure your dog gets to sniff them before they start petting the dog. Sniffing is the one fundamental you need to make sure the dog is always doing.

When the dog wants to bark make sure you correct the behavior. Continue to correct any body language that means the dog is alert. When you continue to accomplish this level of training you will have a dog that understands what is and isn’t allowed during socialization with humans or dogs.

How to bring new dog or puppy

Your current dog shouldn’t have any say so on if they get along with another boy or girl dog. They also don’t have any say so on if you can bring a new puppy to the house. If you follow what we teach on this website and in our courses, you won’t have this issue.

Bring in your new puppy and let them get to know each other through sniffing through the crate. Sniffing each other on a walk and during bathroom breaks.

The new puppy should be able to fit in just fine if you are training the current dog you have.

Any aggression towards the puppy must be aggression and not a simple correction. That is normal and puppies will do things that will result in them getting corrected.

Dog parks

A great way to get your dog around many dogs that have various levels of being trained and untrained. Some dogs will be social some won’t. Some will be overly excited some will be old and out of energy. Check out our comprehensive guide on how to take your dog to the dog park.

The differences in the type of dogs you will run across will be unlimited. It is good to have your dog around different dogs that you can’t control. The only dog you can control at that level is your own.

Remember most people won’t socialize a dog or exercise them before bringing them to the park so make sure you are ready and have your dog in the right state of mind.

Heavily populated area walks

If your dog gets anxious or nervous around people. You can tell from their body language. Body lower, tail tucked, making themselves look small all the time. The best thing you can do is to increase the amount of time they spent around a lot of people.

Take your dog downtown and walk around many people during lunchtime. Take your dog to parades. Don’t hide your dog during house get together. Take him around the family during holidays.

Find any opportunity you can to make the dog be around large numbers of people. The more they get into these situations the more they understand nothing is going to happen.

Dog walks

If possible, anyways try to walk two dogs together while they’re getting to know each other. This can happen with a girl you are talking to that has a dog or a friend of yours from work.

Continue to have the dog working out and meeting others doing something that is very natural to themselves.

This way they can sniff instead of using the eyes and barking at others.

Desensitization of loud noises

Some dogs are really scared of loud noises. Fireworks can be alarming for some. Other times the dog really has an issue and is frightened. There two things I’ve found that works extremely good for us.

Expose the dog and flood them with the very noises that scare them. You are not being mean, but you are changing the relationship they have with the noise. I have played videos of fireworks while on runs.

Played videos of fireworks while on works and while the dog is on the treadmill using a louder speaker.

Finally, I will try to play it in a setting where they are on a lead so I can correct if needed.

Learning to Ignore

Make sure you ignore the dog when they are conducting themselves in a scared, petrified, and frightened mentality. Not because we don’t care but because of if it doesn’t work or help, we should discontinue it.

Take the time to ignore and continue to exercise and play the sounds while not facing the dog. This is the same thing another dog would do in this situation. They wouldn’t be petting each other they would completely ignore if they’re not correcting.

When you socialize a dog you need to learn that some behaviors are a phase and you will be there every step of the way and sometimes being there is just being present without responding verbally. 

Positive dog training

While socializing a dog you should use positive dog training techniques if needed. Don’t go overboard and feed them an entire meal of treats but you can use it to reinforce the positive association with proper behavior.

Understand there is a balance between ignoring and acknowledging. Sometimes that only excites and enhances the very behavior we want to stop. Know the difference and try to understand if you are part of the solution or the problem with this training.


The nose will always be an important factor in introducing anything to a dog. Take great note of the dog’s usage of the nose and how that impacts their socialization. Exercise your dog with other dogs. Take the time and let dogs meet in different positions than face to face.

Never take on training an aggressive dog. Try to get some type of professional help.

Use this guide to fully socialize your dogs and do it in the right manner.

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