Many of the behavior problems I see in dogs stem from dogs being incorrectly socialized. There is a lot of information out there on how to socialize your dog/puppy with other dogs.
Many experts say, if you want a well socialized dog, your dog should meet as many dogs as possible. What they neglect to tell you is, the dogs you introduce your dog to, should be friendly, non-aggressive/non dominant dogs.
Reality is, your dog should only socialize with dogs you personally know, who are friendly, non-aggressive and non dominant.
As a dog owner you are led to believe that once your dog has attended a socialization/obedience class. Your dog should be OK around other dogs for the rest of its lifetime, Wrong! Even puppy and obedience classes can contribute to behavior problems in dogs, if not run correctly.
A bad experience especially at a young age with an unfamiliar dog, situation or person may cause behavior problems, such as aggression or timidness.
For example: a dog rushes up to your dog and stares at it in the face, barks or jumps at it, or on it, your dog may feel intimated or frightened. If your dog is attacked by another dog, your dog in most cases, will become dog aggressive.
Even in a multi-dog household the above behavior should be watched out for and stopped right away. Dogs remember bad experiences and those experiences can and do impact on their behavior.
Dogs go through fear periods at certain stages of their early life, so it is good to be aware of them.
Between eight to ten weeks of age
Anywhere from four to six months
Again at around 12 months
At approximately 14 to 18 months and with some dogs can even be as late as 2 years
Genetics and experiences both contribute heavily to a dog’s personality. Some dogs have good genetic temperaments and can rise above bad experiences.
Others have problems in their genetic temperaments and don’t do too well even in ideal environments. Often, the genetic temperament serves as a limiting factor to how much personality improvement you can achieve through providing the right experiences. The wrong experiences, especially early in life, maybe very hard to overcome but a good behavior modification program can help a lot.
If you encounter a situation where your dog becomes apprehensive or a bit scared/aggressive DO NOT pat your dog and say “Its OK” by doing that you have just praised your dog for being scared/aggressive. Instead, gently tell him “No”, and help him to behave more naturally, by doing some obedience commands. Such as making him sit etc.
If you want a well-rounded socialized dog, it needs to be introduced from an early age to new places, sights & sounds, (the world is not a quiet place) and people. Even if you live in a rural area, you need to make the effort to take your dog out and about.
If you have a couple of vehicles make sure your dog can travel comfortably in both.
Take your dog for a drive
Stop at a service station, car park etc there your dog will see, meet and hear people, cars & trucks
Take your dog for a walk around town
Stop by a school or park and make your dog sit or stand quietly while adults/kids are around
Take your dog to a dog park but keep your dog on the lead.
Take your dog near a busy road but stand a safe distance away from the traffic and watch the cars & trucks go by
If there is a dog show in your area take your dog along and walk around
If you go to the beach or river take your dog with you sometimes.
If you find your dog is having a few problems do something about it, contact a behaviorist/trainer and in list their help. Most problems (even aggression) can be managed or eliminated altogether, with the right training & behavior modification. There’s no such thing as a quick fix; it can take a lot of time and effort on the part of the owner. Work has to be done on a daily basis.