Poor Socialization

Arrow's Heart Animal Rescue volunteers have seen plenty of dogs that come into rescue that have been poorly socialized. Poor socialization can take many forms and can happen for a few different reasons. This page will discuss poor socialization to help inform potential adopters, current dog owners and those people just thinking about adopting a new dog.

 

Some of the situations that can result in a dog being poorly socialized include:

  • Puppies/dogs that are taken away from their litter too soon.
  • Puppies/dogs that are not given a chance to play with kids.
  • Puppies/dogs that are not given a chance to play with other dogs.
  • Puppies/dogs that are not given direction/obedience and are allowed to get away with bad behaviors.
  • Puppies/dogs that have been abused or neglected.
  • Puppies/dogs that were raised in puppy mills.

 

Signs of Poor Socialization:

(Sometimes a particular attribute of a person can trigger these signs. Examples include: only men, men wearing hats, women with purses, etc.)

Fearful

  • Fast hand gestures that are done close to the animal can scare them.
  • Touching a dog in places where then cannot see you approaching can also scare a fearful dog.
  • These dogs will often flinch at fast movements or loud noises.
  • Submissive peeing can occur when a puppy/dog has low confidence.
  • Submissive peeing can also happen when a dog is afraid of people or other animals.
    • Note: Many puppies/adolescent dogs may submissive pee out of pure excitement; they tend to grow out of this stage. If problems persist contact a professional trainer for ideas to help fix the problem.
  • Fearful dogs will sometimes cower; hide under tables, beds, etc.
  • They will also back away or dash away.
  • Barking hazardously at a person, object or noise is another sign of fear.

Fear aggression

  • Dogs with fear aggression will generally show some of the sings above. If a person or child that is not aware of these sings and is not knowledgeable on how to react to these sings some dogs (not all) may feel the need to protect themselves. They can at times react in an aggressive manner believing that they are in danger.

Dog aggression

  • Dogs that show dog aggression have most likely always shown signs of dominance. Dogs are pack animals made up of both dominant and submissive groups. Some dogs with severe dominance will challenge practically every dog they meet if allowed or not corrected.
  • Some dogs will show dog aggression only when challenged by another dog if allowed or not corrected.
  • Some dogs do what we call “resource guarding.” This is where a dog will guard or protect items/people from other animals. These items can include: food, water, bones, chew toys, lounging areas etc. This can happen because the dog was deprived of these things or because the dog is not corrected when they exhibit these behaviors.
  • Some dogs have been previously trained to be aggressive towards other dogs.

People aggression

  • Many dogs will view people as a part of their pack and though the majority of dogs will see their people as the “pack leader” there are some dogs that have been taught (almost always unintentionally) that people are not pack leaders. They will challenge people and if not corrected this can turn into aggression.
  • Some dogs do what we call “resource guarding.” This is where a dog will guard or protect items/people from other people. These items can include: food, water, bones, chew toys, lounging areas etc. This can happen because the dog was deprived of these things or because the dog is not corrected when they exhibit these behaviors.
  • Some dogs have been previously trained to be aggressive towards people.

 

 

If you own or you are interested in adopting a dog that has signs of poor socialization it is important to know and understand why the dog is acting the way it acts. Once you know the “why,” rehabilitation will be that much more successful.

 

Our foster homes have had experience with these types of dogs and can help give potential adopters tips about how to help the dog work through their issues. If you have never had experience with poorly socialized dogs and you would still like to adopt a poorly socialized dog, we strongly suggest getting the advice and/or training of professionals before and after adoption.

Note: We are not professional animal behaviorists or professional trainers. We are volunteers that have had widespread experiences with multiple types of rescued animals. Unless otherwise cited this information comes from our personal experience and has not necessarily been researched and proven to be accurate.