Dog Socialization

by Elena Gonzalez
(Pasadena, MD)

What do you do for dog socialization? Do you take your pit bull friend to the dog park?

It seems no matter what happens at our local dog park, Storm could be 50 feet away and some people still think "It's because there's a pit here. . . ".

My vet says to avoid the situation entirely. Would like to hear from other others as to what they do to socialize their best buds.

Gale's Reply:

Hi Elena. Great question.

I tend to agree with your vet. It's sad, but true that if a fight breaks out, the pit bull will be blamed no matter which dog is the aggressor.

Add to that the fact that public dog parks attract owners with varying levels of skill in managing their own dogs. Some people seem to think they can just turn their dog loose to do whatever while they chat with other owners and pay no attention to their dog.

I've also seen owners who watched their dog repeatedly try to dominate another dog and do nothing about it even though it was apparent things were starting to heat up.

Alternative dog socialization activities:

1. Taking your dog with you on errands and out in public whenever it's practical is a good practice. This doesn't have the element of exercise and play. But, it does help with socialization.

2. Arrange supervised play sessions with friends, neighbors, etc and their dogs. It's easier to manage this kind of situation when you know the other people and their dogs.

3. Take your dog thru an obedience class with other dogs.

4. Attend dog events with your pit bull. Even if you don't participate, just having your dog go with you as a spectator is another socialization opportunity.

That's what comes to mind off-hand. Hopefully others will have more to add.

For more information on obedience training, visit our Pit Bull Training page.

For help with behavioral problems, check out our Dog Behavior Training page.

Comments for Dog Socialization

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Apr 16, 2011
by: Mike Reed

We take our amstaff/pit mix and doxie mix to dog parks and have the same issue but we continue to go so others can be better educated about pitts and ses they are not bad dogs. We also take him and our doxie mix to PetsMart whenever we go and walk them around the stors and have them get on the scale everytime. We also have pkay dates with friends and there dogs as well.

Apr 16, 2011
Dog Parks
by: Debbie

My pit bull, now 4-1/2, loves dog parks. We brought her to Florida with us for a month in February. The dog park in that town requires registration ($25 fee), and submission of vet records showing that the dog is up to date on shots. I didn't mind the fee and the registration as I think it helps to weed out irresponsible pet owners. Going to this dog park was the highlight of my Pits day. She had a few favorites there that she loved romping, running, and wrestling with. In a month, there was only one occasion where things got too heated between her and another dog. It wasn't my dogs fault. Really. The other dog was toy agressive, and my little girl was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was quickly broken up. And by the time this incident happened, all the regulars knew her, and knew she was the sweetest. She would come home happy and exhausted every day. Nothing better than an exhausted pit bull. :)

Apr 16, 2011
Be Careful with Dog Park
by: Kerri

We used to take our pit mix to the dog park when we first adopted her. She does tend to be bossy and dominant and because of that people would keep their dogs away from her because they assumed she was going to attack. After a while of getting dirty looks and people keeping their dogs away, we gave up.

Like Gail said though, we take her everywhere we can. We live in a very dog friendly place so alot of eateries with outdoor seating encourage their guests to bring dogs. She is incredibly friendly and loves the attention she gets. Check around where you live and start bringing yours whenever you can!

We bring her for long walks at the park and on the beach for excercise and to our local pet stores for socializing whenever we can.

Just because you can't go to the dog park doesn't mean you can't give your pittie the socialization he or she needs!

Apr 16, 2011
I agree with Gayle. Pitty's get a bad rap.
by: Stephanie

I am so disappointed at how small minded people are. More disappointed they they rely and trust what the media puts out there vs experience. In my 50 years on this planet I have experienced many dog situations. Akita, Sheppard, small breeds, etc... I have only had one bad pit bull experience, and it was a loose stray pit bull - BASICALLY A STRAY SCARED DOG. Myself and my family have had our small pets killed by other breeds. Myself and my family have been bit and attacked by other breeds, but never a Pit Bull.

My big Pitty boy is 100 pounds, maybe more. The sweetest dog ever! He has never started a fight, and hides behind me when dogs approach him aggressively. He has never shown aggression toward people or dogs. However, he is a beautiful and friendly dog and people are attracted to him. Sadly, some people automatically size him up and ask "OH! Is that a Pit bull?!"

If I say, "Yes" they back up, hold their arms up as to protect their children. Tyty remains smiley, wagging his tail and entire body, then he closes his mouth and looks disappointed when they don't pet him.

When I don't answer, or I tell a little white lie, "Oh, he is a Staffordshire" Tyty gets the attention from the strangers and social interaction he craves. I walk away saying to myself "Silly people!"

While out on hikes, he has been attacked by America Bull dog, Labrador, Jack Russell, and Australian Sheep Dog. He never fought back, tried to run, and cried when the dog made contact. It's how you raise them, and EVERY DOG NO MATTER WHAT BREED is an individual.

Yeap, I agree Pits get a bad rap!!!

Apr 16, 2011
Socialization does NOT mean playing with other dogs
by: Anonymous

Dog parks are horrible for ALL dogs due to the uncontrolled nature of the place. You also take chances on disease.

Socializing your dog does not mean letting it play with other dogs. It means your dog is comfortable in all situations and won't act like a fool around other dogs and people. Socialize them by taking them places - malls, pet stores, walks, training classes. Teach them how to behave in many situations and how to focus on you and you will have a well socialized dog.

Apr 17, 2011
Pit Bull Socialization
by: Anonymous

We started at 4 months with our Blue Nose Pit Layla, as soon as she had all of her vacs we took her to the dog park so that she got use to being around other pups and now at 1.5 yrs Im still taking her and have had no problems. Its best to start at a young age where if something did happen it is much easier to control. Dog parks can be a negative thing if people do not have control over their dogs, yes, but it can also be a very good thing for your dog to meet and interact with all kinds of other dogs. Layla has been attacked by a wheaten terrier but never did anything back, its all about training and socialization with these dogs. We also have play dates with other dogs which is also a very good idea. Maybe try taking your dog on walks with a little higher traffic to start it off. That might get it use to being around alot of people and other dogs but not to far as to let it off leash all together.

Apr 30, 2011
Pet Stores
by: Allison

I know that my local Petco has a socialization playgroup once a week. It is great she gets to interact with other dogs of various breeds some huge some smaller and also all the other dog's owners. Some bring their kids so they get into the mix of helping our pit socialize as well. Obedience class is great too, I did this as well. We don't have dog parks around here that I am aware of, but I would be worried about the level of ignorance I'd have to deal with because she is a pitbull and at that point they would have to worry more about me than my "vicious" pittie! LOL hehehe!

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