My dog is an only dog. She has regular play dates with her brother, who my mom owns, and gets plenty of interaction with other dogs so she doesn’t freak out if she sees another dog on the street, in another vehicle, etc. It’s important to socialize your dog in safe and remain regular in getting your dog used to others, so your dog doesn’t completely cower or try to tear the crud out of other dogs when they see one.
A great way to socialize your dog is via daily walks. When your dog walks by other dogs and begins to show fear or aggression, firmly hold your dog’s leash close to their body to maintain control of the dog so they either don’t lunge away from you, try to wrap the leash around you, or try to lunge at the other dog. Firmly command your dog to sit, even though the other dog (restrained or in a fenced yard) may be barking its head off. Getting your dog to obey you when they see other dogs is a great way to keep control so your dog doesn’t bolt everywhere.
What I do with my dog when I walk her is hold her leash just above her neck when she sees another dog and begins to show over excitement or aggression (aggression is rare). I command her to sit, and don’t allow the walk to continue unless she either calms down (as in, not inching to get up, half-standing, yipping, barking, etc) and the other animal has either passed or my dog is ignoring it. Teaching your dog to tolerate other animals even when other dogs may be barking at your dog is a key way to socialize them with other dogs without getting overexcited.
Take your dog with you to other people’s homes with dogs- with permission. My sister has 2 hounds and a Great Dane/Mastiff mix, and the huge beast of a dog (180 pounds) is the sweetest creature on Earth. I took my dog to their house and allowed her to meet them through the fence, and when no aggression was administered by any of the dogs, let my dog loose in the yard where they immediately began playing and rough housing. I stood in the yard with the animals in case my dog decided to get snotty (at one point she attacked the Great Dane mix over a rotten apple, and the huge dog just put a paw on my dog’s head and flattened her), but once it was clear that no real fights were going to occur, the dogs were able to play on their own.
It’s important to have your dog on-leash when introducing them to new dogs, and to let all the dogs tell you whether they will get along. Tail wagging, relaxed behavior, perked, excited ears, or indifference are sure signs that the dogs should get along. However, rigid posture, fear, growling or bared teeth, or hackles raising may be a sign of trepidation or fear. Don’t just let your dog loose in somebody’s yard even if you know the dog your dog is meeting. Dogs don’t typically just beat the tar out of each other for no reason, but small territorial scuffles may ensue so the human parents should be present to monitor any dominance.
In the car, don’t allow your dog to pester other dogs. My dog will bark at other dogs when she’s in the back of the truck, and we quickly quiet her down. Just because your dog cannot get near the other dog does not mean it’s OK to let it bark, because then you are letting your dog know the behavior is OK. Would you let your child throw a fit in McDonald’s but not the grocery store? Nope. Consistence is key.
If you know your dog is aggressive toward other dogs and animals, always have your dog on a leash or restrained when other animals are present. Keep in control of your dog at all times and don’t allow them to snap at or growl at other animals. Firmly make your dog sit or lie down around other animals until it can control its own behavior and learn to ignore other dogs around them. It’s a great way to take an opportunity to allow your dog to maintain positive behavior in public around other dogs it does not know well.