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It always breaks my heart when I meet an under-socialized dog. I was at the dog park yesterday, and met an absolutely gorgeous, friendly, 15-month old Golden Retriever. Friendly with people, that is; she was absolutely terrified of dogs.

I would crouch down and turn to the side to let her approach, and she would promptly arrive and start showering me with kisses. After a while, Dilly-Dally, my super-friendly mutt, would come back to see what the commotion was. As soon as she came within about 15 feet, the retriever would yelp and race back to her owners, and huddle against them with her tail tucked between their legs.

I never bring dog treats to the park, so I tried to lure her into a 'canine handshake' with my dog: I turned Dilly-Dally away from the GR and put her into a standing 'wait', then asked the owners to lead the GR to my dog from behind. She took a few sniffs while I stroked her back, and seemed to relax a bit, but scampered away again as soon as Dilly-Dally turned. After a few more rounds, she eventually warmed up to my dog, but then came the worst realization: she didn't know how to play.

Dilly-Dally would offer a play bow, nuzzle her neck, etc., to try and get the GR to chase her, but to no avail. She would just take a few tentative steps, then turn back to look at me or her owners for guidance. It was heartbreaking; how can a 1-year old Golden Retriever not know how to play? More importantly, how do you teach her? Is it already too late?
 

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I don't think it's too late. But I don't think a dog park is a good place to take a dog who's afraid of other dogs. What she needs (in my unprofessional opinion) is the chance to get acquainted with one other dog. Then, once that's established, a different dog. In other words, she should be introduced to one dog at a time in order to not overwhelm her. She was probably too nervous to play in the dog park, but a couple hours of just hanging out at someone's home with another dog might bring a different result. She would learn how to play from the other dog.

I say this because B'asia was undersocialized when we brought her home and she fear-barked at all the other dogs, but has since gotten VERY comfortable with the other three, but one at a time. She is still very wary of strange dogs, but a LOT better than she used to be. It takes a lot of work and commitment, but I think it's definitely possible.
 

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How do you always know when you meet an under socialized dog?

What is the history on this GR?

The dog can be worked with. Some dogs don't do as well as others. Regardless of socialization, you can't forget about genetic factors either and the early stuff too before the pups home would have a chance to social or not still effect them. It is not impossible to work with this dog from the park. It really varies from dog to dog how much/how quick they get.
 

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I think it's too late for my parents dog. He's 20. He spent his life very DA, and since he's gotten so old and I moved back to town, I tried introducing him to my Elkhound, who is perfect for socializing, but his aggression has turned to fear. He absolutely will not get near any of my dogs and is terrified of them.
 

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My pups best doggy friend is a Golden. It wasn't always like that, this Golden had come from an abused home. She didn't know how to play or even stick up and defend herself until...... she met my pup. She would let my dog do anything to her, chew her legs and just not be nice but afterwards after a few more play dates the transformation in the Golden was unbelievable. She started playing my dog and having self esteem and she walks with her head held high now and mine learned some manners. They are perfect for eachother and taught eachother how to play and be nice friends. I guess my extremely happy nutty puppy benefited a dog in need:)
 
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