A Labrador Retriever, a German Shepherd, and a Kelpie all pose for a photo.

Important Considerations When Socializing Your Dog.

How to: Socializing your Dog or Puppy (the right way)

There is a important distinction between a ‘social dog,’ and a dog that is ‘dog obsessed.’ 

What people want is a dog that is happy to engage with other dogs and people without dog aggression, or human aggression of any kind. What they actually end up creating can be a different story. 

It seems like the obvious solution is to introduce your dog to as many dogs and people as possible. But, there’s so much more to it! The interaction itself must be a positive experience for your dog! If you see your dog avoiding the dog or person you are trying to introduce them to; If they are attempting to move away, make themselves small, or if you find yourself saying things like, “it’s okay….”, your dog is NOT having a great experience! There are steps you must take to ensure your dog walks away from that interaction thinking, “hey, that was easy.” We don’t want them to be like, “OH MY GOSH, THAT WAS THE BEST THING EVER!!!!” and we also don’t want, “THAT SUCKED… PLEASE, don’t make me do that again.” We want something lukewarm; medium if you will. Let me explain….. 

If we are going for Dog Social:  


    • Your dog can see another dog (off in the distance) and take it or leave it. Social dogs don’t get frustrated when they can’t access other dogs, and they don’t drag their owners to get to them.

    • While your dog is engaged with other dogs, they are still aware of you (if you feel like your dog is “blind” to your presence, your dog is not socializing in a healthy way). 

    • When your dog sees a dog friend, they can quickly and easily be brought back under control, even if they are excited initially.  

    • During play, your dog is easy to recall and refocus. 

Dog Neutral: It’s important to note that **most mature dogs fall into this category**. Dog Neutral does not mean unsocialized. 


    • Your dog is selective about its dog-friends. It doesn’t always enjoy playing with other new, stranger adult dogs or may have to be introduced in a thoughtful way.

    • Your dog probably grew up with the dogs it likes, and those relationships are friendly and fun. 

    •  It retreats, or growls and postures, when another (stranger adult) dog gets in their face or tries to sniff them.  

    • When stranger dogs try to play, they move away and seem disinterested. 

    • While they don’t enjoy playing with strange dogs, they are able to be near other dogs, or pass other dogs on or off-leash as long they don’t ‘get in their face.’  


    • These dogs are usually tolerant of, and willing to play with puppies. 

Think  of how YOU behave in public. Is it appropriate to run up and hug every stranger you see? How about banter (joking around) or wrestling? It doesn’t connote that you are a mean person, it simply shows you are aware of behavioral norms. Some behaviors that were totally acceptable as a child are frowned upon as an adult. The same is true with Dogs. We don’t typically accept overly touchy, clingy, childish behavior from friends. Those are considered Toxic. 

Toxic Dog Behavior 

Stage One Clingon: When your dog sees another dog in the distance it pulls hard on the your leash. You can ‘sometimes’ wrestle them back into compliance. Trying to use treats to control their behavior is  ‘hit or miss’ when trying to refocus. 

Stage Two Clingon: Your dog is pulling so hard on the leash, it compels you to explain your dog’s behavior with “He’s just so excited…” Treats are as useless as your leash. You dog is difficult to refocus until the other dog is far away. 

Stage Three Clingon: While you’re trying to explain how excited your dog is, the other people can’t hear you over your dog’s barking. You can’t reach your treats without losing your leash and your dog. Walking your dog is becoming more of an upper body workout. 

Stage Four Clingon: Seeing another dog in the distance gives YOU anxiety. Taking your dog for a walk is embarrassing. They are basically unaware of your presence in search of other things to interact with. They barely flick an ear at you even if you (repeatedly) call their name. Barking is become unbearable. 

Stage Five Dog Obsessed: The thought of walking your dog gives you pause. Hiding behind trees and cars when you spot another dog in the distance is the norm. You know there’s a problem. Is the Dog Park a solution?  

First, the Dog Park and Dog Daycare is rarely the way to go, as (as counter-intuitive as that may seem), because they can actually facility Cling-on behavior. 

If you notice your dog becoming a Cling-on, the best time to intervene is BEFORE STAGE THREE. Your dog needs proper dog training to retain or mitigate their social behavior. If Cling-on behavior has developed, the goal is to get Dog Neutral. Dog training is helpful, but not miraculous. If you are teetering on stage four or five,  life-long management and mitigation of the dog’s behavior is in order; dog training will *help but may not fix the problem. At that point the dog may struggle to return to Dog Neutral, and Dog Social will likely never be an option. 

Here are some tips for Socializing your Dog 

Focus on long-term doggy relationships (friend, neighbor, and family dogs). Monitor their play and intervene when things appear to be getting too amped. Don’t wait until there is aggressive behavior. Monitor their body language and step in early. If you need additional guidance, follow the Meet and Greet Protocol (Available on our Virtual Academy).  

Avoid meeting strange dogs your dog will never see again.  

Reward your dog for ignoring other dogs on walks. I know…. That doesn’t sound right!? If you want your dog to like other dogs, isn’t ignoring them the opposite? NO, not in dog psychology! Pairing a reward event with the presence of other dogs helps build that positive association, without the adrenaline and cortisol rush,  or the potential for the interaction to go south!  

If you feel like your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, treadmill train, teach them how to tug, and/or hire a dog walker or dog hiker, instead of doggy daycare or dog parks. 

Dog Dynamix Ohio can help you reach your training goals through various dog training program options. We have locations serving Denver, Colorado and Columbus, Ohio, so reach out and let us get your dog on track. 

Six well-trained dogs pose for a photo on a hiking trail during a Dog Dynamix training trip.

Dog Daycare: A Fun Past Time, or a Creator of Bad Behavior?

We want to briefly revisit our regular dog trainer TED talk… Reactivity in daycare dogs. We see daycare offered as a management tool for separation anxiety and other trouble behaviors, as well as “socialization”, but at Dog Dynamix Ohio, we almost never recommend it to our clients. A vast majority of our leash reactive (see: lunging and barking at other dogs on leash) cases attend dog parks and daycare, regularly. After over ten years of watching the pattern unfold, our best explanation is this:

A young dog attends dog daycare and either enjoys it initially, or doesn’t. Either way, the dog slowly becomes overstimulated by the sight of other dogs, and begins to expect every dog it sees is a potential playmate (or threat, if they do not enjoy the group setting). Out in public, the dog owner may let them meet other dogs on leash (please don’t), but maybe not. We then tend to start to see a decrease in neutrality, being able to ignore other dogs, on walks via whining, barking, going towards, or otherwise acknowledging the other dog in an obsessive way… All of which is not polite behavior for a dog out in public. As the months go by, that same dog begins to get frustrated whenever they see another dog — it expects to meet it as it does when it is at daycare or dog parks, or expects it to run over and greet them — and frustrated dogs eventually tend to exhibit aggressive displays or behaviors. So, the sweet labrador retriever who “loves other dogs” and “just wants to say hi”, bites another dog it meets on leash in public. Weird, he’s never done that before…

The most unfortunate part about the whole scenario is that these are well-meaning dog owners who truly feel like they are doing the right things by “socializing” their dogs. Our brain tells us that if our dog just meets a bunch of dogs and people, he will not see them as a threat and therefore can go anywhere and do anything with us. The reality is, most daycare and dog park dogs are a mess in public, can’t be trusted off leash if another dog shows up, and certainly can’t settle at our feet at a dog-friendly brewery.

The issue is that most people have the definition of how to socialize a dog wrong. Most socialization should not include interaction with the other dog, person, or thing of interest. It is equally, if not even more so, important for a dog to learn to ignore dogs and people as it is for them to learn to interact appropriately. The problem is, most daycares, and certainly most dog owners at dog parks, do not know what appropriate interaction looks like. As a result, we are slowly ruining our dogs’ impulse control and ability to maintain composure under distraction, and then get frustrated with their behavior when distractions exist. 

At the end of the day, we all have to make our own decisions on what we think is best for our dogs. Most people, when explained how the cycle happens, are relieved to find out this is a common issue and that their dog isn’t a vicious animal. Others, however, feel such a need to make excuses for their dogs behavior, and aren’t willing to give up the daily off leash mosh pits… and in that case, we often can’t help them or their dog. 

Dog owners who need dog care during the day should do their research and choose a dog care professional wisely. Here is a great article on how to choose an appropriate dog daycare or day training center for your dog. There are also great alternatives to dog daycare out there, including dog jogging and hiking companies, pet sitters that will do mid-day breaks, and dog daycare with training, run by dog training professionals.

If you’re dealing with the downfalls of dog daycare and now have a reactive dog, contact us for reactive dog training in Ohio. We are happy to help you get your canine back on track.

A border heeler enjoying swimming time at an Ohio pond

Training Tips From Experienced Dog Trainers in Columbus

Dog training in Columbus is an important part of dog ownership! Dog training helps your dog learn good habits and live a more fulfilled life. Whether you’re looking for basic obedience training or more advanced off leash dog training, local trainers near you can help guide your pup on the path to becoming a well-behaved companion.

Start With the Basics.

Before you move on to more complex skills, take time to really focus on the basics: name recognition, wait at the door, sit and down. Then, you can start more advanced skills such as walking on leash without pulling, coming when called, and stay. If your pup isn’t yet obedience trained, then it’s really important to start by teaching him foundational commands that serve as the building blocks for more advanced commands later on. Skipping out on important basics will make things much harder when your dog has developed bad habits!

Use a Positive Reinforcement-Based Training System.

Understanding and appropriately applying all four quadrants of learning is key when trying to teach advanced dog training cues. Positive reinforcement should be the building blocks set when it comes to successfully training your pup. Experienced dog trainers in Columbus know how to use all quadrants of learning properly, but should always teach using positive reinforcement, only layering over positive punishment to skills that your dog knows and understands. Dog Dynamix Ohio is well-versed in (and very passionate about) balanced dog training, which begins by using a liberal foundation of positive reinforcement, then uses negative reinforcement, negative punishment, and positive punishment as your dog progresses in their training.

Create Realistic Goals for Your Dog’s Training Progress

Creating realistic goals will help you and your pup progress in a timely manner. It is important to remember that teaching your dog or puppy new commands can take time, so don’t be discouraged if it takes your pup longer than expected. Overloading your dog with more tasks when they are not ready for them has the potential to make them confused or frustrated. So, start off with simple commands, master them in areas of low distraction, and then gradually increase the distance, distraction, and duration of the tasks as they get better.

Practice Your Training During Walks and Other Activities.

Walks, playtime and other day-to-day activities are major opportunities for practicing your dog’s training. For example, instead of just letting your pup run free at the park, try asking them to “sit” or “down” for their favorite toy, and then throw the toy when they do so. If you’re taking a hike, practice “place” on tree stumps, and work on coming when called (on a long line, of course!). Inserting training drills in your every day life not only keeps things interesting but helps your do anticipate their obedience commands anywhere and anytime.

Dog Trainer Shaina Zimmerman at the 2022 NARA National Championship

How to Find the Best Dog Training Near Me

Searching for a qualified dog trainer near you?

Whether you’re new to dog training or want to advance your pup’s current obedience skillset, finding the right person for the job can be an overwhelming task. This guide will help you find the perfect local dog trainer for you and your dog.

Research Different Training Options and Techniques.

Before you choose a local dog trainer, it’s important to learn about the different techniques and methods used in dog training. This can help you make an informed decision about which technique works best for your pup and lifestyle. Consider the differences between balanced dog training, traditional dog training, and force free dog training and the limitations of each option. You should also have a basic understanding of various training program options; cost and benefits will vary drastically between boarding and training programs, private dog training lessons, in home dog training, and group dog obedience classes. It’s also very important to research the qualifications of any potential trainers to ensure they have the experience and credibility needed to be successful.

Ask Friends, Family or Veterinarians for Recommendations.

A great way to find the best dog trainers near you is by asking around. Talk to your family and friends who live nearby to see if they have any advice. Or you can ask your veterinarian or other local animal professionals for recommendations. Their is SO much power in word-of-mouth recommendations – asking around can help you gain significant personal insights into the performance (or shortcomings) of a specific trainer.

Check Reviews of Potential Trainers Online.

It’s always a good idea to do your research online before settling on a trainer. Visit the websites of potential trainers and read their reviews. Also, search for their business names on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where you can get a more detailed look at their qualifications and reputation, and where you should be able to see the dog trainer working with client dogs or dog owners in video format. Finally, ask on forums or other dog-related communities to get insights from other owners who have worked with them in the past.

Consider Your Dog’s Needs and Your Budget When Making a Decision

When selecting a dog trainer, be sure to consider both your pet’s needs and your budget. Some trainers specialize in certain breeds or ages (for example, some trainers specialize in puppies, while others may take on more aggression cases), and others may work with all types of dogs. Additionally, some program types are more affordable than others. Once you have narrowed down your choices based on these criteria, contact the trainers you are considering to make sure they are available and find out more about their methods and experience.

Choosing a dog trainer can be a difficult task, but hopefully these tips make it easier for you! If you are looking for a Dayton Dog Trainer or a Columbus Boarding and Training professional, contact us for more information today. We’d love to help you on your dog training journey with your pup.