The Dangers of Not Socializing Your Pets
Socializing your dog or cat is crucial to them growing up to be a happy well-adjusted pet. At the
Lee County Humane Society we far too often have animals surrendered by owners because
they are “bad pets” but often the problem is simply that the animal simply hasn’t gotten the
socialization they need.
Discomfort Around Other Animals
Not exposing your animal to a variety of other pets increases your chances that your furry
friend will grow up to not appreciate other animals’ company. Introducing your animal to other
pets helps teach them valuable communication skills so they have good manners by the time
they’re an adult. Without early socialization, innocent play can easily turn into a fight.
Discomfort Around Humans
Don’t limit socialization to exposure to other animals. Your pet also needs to be introduced to a
wide variety of people. Expose your animal to people of all ages, heights and ethnicities. Also,
be sure to have your pet meet people wearing hats and folks with beards, wheelchairs and
walkers. Believe it or not, those things can seem scary to an animal without proper
Dogs who are not properly socialized are also prone to resource guarding, which occurs when
dogs feel anxious about others approaching their own valued resources. This can manifest with
defensiveness around toys, but is most problematic when the resource they are guarding is
food. The guarding actions can range from relatively benign behavior, like running away with a
coveted item or growling at an approaching person, to full-blown aggression, such as biting or
chasing a person away.
Fear is often at the root of aggression, so while an animal might seem angry, they might
actually just be plain scared. A reactive pet that is in aggressive attack mode might simply be
under-socialized and not have the right skills to handle what they consider stressful situations.
Instead of running away, these pets act defensively in reaction to whatever is frightening them,
whether that be a person, another animal or a motorcycle.
Exposing a puppy or kitten to a variety of new experiences desensitizes them to unusual sights
and smells. Unfortunately, if this socialization doesn’t occur, small things can set them off. Even
seemingly benign things like bicycles can make these animals cower and run away. These pets
experience a tremendous amount of anxiety over anything that’s new. This will show as a
complete unwillingness to explore new environments.
Fear of Leaving the House
Dogs without proper socialization tend to have very small worlds. Going outside is full of so
many new people, places and things that it’s simply too scary for them to leave the house. So
under-socialized dogs will resist going for walks or meeting new people.
Unwillingness to Be Controlled
An animal that isn’t used to be touched will generally not enjoy being handled. This can make
cuddling and grooming exceedingly difficult. An under-socialized pet will hate being brushed,
having their teeth brushed or having their nails clipped. In fact, you may find that these chores
are virtually impossible. The only remedy for grooming these animals is taking them to
professionals who are experts in handling skittish pets.
Sensitivity to Sound
Many pets freak out when they hear fireworks, thunder or a dump truck drive by, but this issue
is exacerbated if the animals aren’t socialized. This fear comes from a general timidness and
fear of the unknown. Even less intimidating noises like fans or phone ringers can be a serious
problem for these animals. These pets will generally run away from the sound and avoid it at all
Weekly Wish: We are in need of fosters, particularly for adult dogs. You can see some of the
wonderful pets who need fostering on our Trello board at tinyurl.com/fosterboard
if you are interested in fostering please call the shelter at 334-821-3222 or email our foster care
coordinator at email@example.com