Socialisation....one of the most misunderstood words and concepts. I don't think there are many trainers out there that would disagree.
If I could change one thing in this world that would make a huge difference in everyone's life....it would be to stop using this word.
Let's start using a far better word to encourage a new way of looking at socialisation....and that word is NEUTRAL.
Neutrality IS socialisation.
Having a neutral dog is a well socialised dog.
Accepting that other dogs exist and your dog can be calm and neutral around them....that is TRUE socialisation.
True socialisation is acclimation to other dogs, environments, surfaces, people etc...and if your dog goes from 0 to 10 when they see another dog, that isn't socialisation, it is the opposite. If people are constantly allowed to pat and excite your dog....your dog will start to show those same behaviours when they meets others.
Society has twisted the meaning of socialisation into something it should never be...which is play equals socialisation.
Socialisation is NOT play, and that is the main association with this word.
Play is play. Play will not make your dog more socialised with others...in fact play can have the opposite effect.
I hear often "we socialise heavily at the dog park" or "we encourage our dog to play to socialise" ....the next statement that comes out is "he just goes crazy around others" or "she now sees a dog and barks and barks....I think she is reactive ".
If you heavily "socialise" using only play....you will likely have the opposite of what you may want which is a calm dog around others. You will have a dog that only associates dogs with high energy, over arousal and creatures of high emotions....that is what they will likely show you again and again.
Why would they behave calmly if the main interactions they have involve high excitement and over arousal ?
Socialisation should be neutrality.
Socialisation (the true meaning) is being CALM and accepting that other dogs, animals, environments and people exist. That happens with acclimatising and instilling calmness when around other dogs or new environments.
Neutrality means not viewing these things as reasons for over arousal, over excitement and hyper behaviour.
Neutral is a great aim.
Remaining neutral around others can encourage healthy play with others....maybe they will interact, maybe not.
They learn to trust their own judgement and YOURS when neutrality is the goal.
So maybe it is time to stop using socialisation as the end goal when raising a puppy or a dog....lets make a new end goal of encouraging calmness....neutrality.