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The Socialisation Misnomer

By Sue McCabe

Are we teaching our dogs to be anti-social, by becoming obsessed with socialisation?

I just spent a week in Paris. While there I made an observation. All the dogs I saw were amazingly well behaved. This may mean that Paris has the best dog trainers in the world. However, I’m more inclined to believe that the limitations of the city results in dogs who appeared to be better behaved than those where I come from. I witnessed every dog walking on a loose leash, sitting quietly by a table while their owners ate/drank, without pulling the table over if another dog passed. I observed dogs meeting other dogs without lunging, barking or dislocating their owner’s shoulders. I noticed dogs of every size and shape all getting along fine, appearing healthy and happy despite mostly on leash walks and very little off leash dog/dog interaction.

So why are Parisian dogs behaving, while increasingly on walks my dogs and I are mugged, chased, followed, lunged at, and generally disturbed by other people’s unruly and over-friendly dogs? I believe it is because while becoming obsessed with the word socialisation, we have in fact been raising dogs to be anti-social. By allowing unrestricted access to other dogs off leash for unruly play sessions and missing out on basic self control exercises while the dog is still young enough to learn, we’ve managed to produce a nation of dogs who cannot control their levels of excitement while out and about.

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