If you have read any of my articles on socialization you have surely read my information concerning the period of socialization for a dog. That period in case you missed it is from birth to 20 weeks of age.
During this period we expose the new puppy to adults, children and other dogs in strange new places. If you don’t your dog may very well never be socialized and begin to show fear or aggression somewhere between 12 and 24 months of age.
But what if you dog was never socialized to begin with is there any hope of having a friendly well-adjusted dog? Yes and no. There are many factors to consider including the breed, the age and whether or not the dog has already started showing aggression.
Some breeds like Rotties, Dobies, Shepherds and Pits may never be socialized if they missed the 20 week window and have started showing aggression. However even some of those can be taught how to behave and be sociable.
Other breeds like labs, goldens and border collies are normally considered to be friendly dogs and most can be brought around even if they were not socialized by 20 weeks.
Of course the younger the dog is the better socialization will be for an adult dog. Has the dog started showing aggression, if not that is even better and always easier that try to help an aggressive fearful dog.
So how do we socialize these older dogs? Get them out and about. Get them around as many people as possible if they are not aggressive and to new places as well. At the same time that you are socializing the adult dog you should also be doing some good obedience training to establish the dog master relationship so that the dog knows you are the pack leader.
If your dogs have already started showing fear and some aggression you can still get them out so that they get used to having strangers in the area but not right next to them. As the process gets better you can actually move closer and closer to the people. You can make sure that strangers are safe by using a basket muzzle. The basket muzzle will allow your dogs to pant, drink and pick up treats from people that are helping you with this process.
Socialization is important and should continue for the life of the dog. Just remember to do it early if possible for best results.