Boston Terriers are friendly dogs. But, like all dogs, they need to learn how to relate to people and dogs. I recommend you socialize your Boston at a young age. In fact, people ask me all the time how early they should start this process.
When do you socialize your Boston Terrier?
Socializing your Boston Terrier should begin as young as 7 to 8 weeks of age.
The sooner you expose your Boston to new situations, the better. These early experiences will help her be less anxious or afraid later on. After 16 to 18 weeks of age, it’s harder for your Boston to accept new situations. After this age, she will be more prone to fear and suspicion of people and dogs.
Here is what else you need to know about socializing a Boston…
What is socialization?
Socialization is the word we use for training dogs, so they’re comfortable in a variety of situations such as being around people, dogs, and experiencing different sounds or smells.
Are Boston Terriers Easy To Socialize?
If you’ve chosen a Boston Terriers as your pet, you’ve made a good choice. Bostons are good companions. They’re also great family dogs. They have an even temperament that adapts well to children as well as other pets. Because they have a sturdy build, they do fine even if the children get a bit rough.
Socializing your Boston should go well, but she might be stubborn at times, wanting to be the boss. Bostons can become jealous and possessive, but you can train her through this, especially if you start at an early age.
Boston’s are energetic and love to run and chase. It is good to remember that socializing any dog takes time, patience, and consistency. With all this in mind, socializing your Boston will be a rewarding experience for you and your pet.
Are Boston Terriers Aggressive?
In a survey with 43 Boston Terrier owners, only 32% said their Boston was aggressive towards other dogs.
In the same survey, all 43 respondents said their Boston Terrier was not aggressive towards humans.
Bostons are typically not aggressive towards other dogs if socialized at a young age.
They can be stubborn dogs, and will always try to outrank you. Be sure to let your Boston know you are the boss, never allow her to jump up on or chase anyone.
If your Boston shows signs of aggression, don’t worry. You can change her behavior with proper training. Sometimes it is hard to know aggressive behavior.
Different aggressive behaviors to look for in your Boston Terrier.
Fearful or Anxiety
If your dog is fearful or anxious about a person or another dog, he’ll act out. Dogs that experience fear or anxiety are sometimes friendly. They seem submissive-lowering their heads, avoiding eye contact. However, if cornered, they will bite out of fear.
This kind of aggression causes Boston’s to bark, growl, or show her teeth at humans or dogs when they come on to her property on inside her house. You must work on this behavior because a guest coming into your home could get bit.
Your Boston may show this aggressiveness if someone picks up or bothers her food or toys.
Protective dogs trie to protect their owners or family around another dog or a human. Sometimes owners think this is cute, but it’s not good behavior. It can lead to biting.
This can be towards males or females. Sexual aggression shows up when a dog is competing with another dog for a female. This can lead to dangerous fighting.
This behavior is socially driven. This Boston is aggressive when she sees people or animals she likes and wants to play with them. This type of aggression gets missed by the dog’s owner.
What Should My Boston Puppy Not Be Allowed To Do?
There are some practical things your Boston Terrier should not be allowed to do. Teaching her not to do these things not only socializes her but teaches her good manners.
Your Boston should….
- Never jump up on humans or other dogs. If she jumps, say, “No!” and turn around with your back to her. She’ll see that you don’t want to play with her when she does this. If you can get the other person to do this, too, that reinforces to your pup that people don’t like it when dogs jump up on them.
- Never grab food from you, from the table or from someone’s hand without permission.
- Never chase children, joggers, or other people.
- Never play tug of war with your dog. Tug of war may seem like a harmless game, but it teaches that to pull things from you. It’s also not good for their teeth. For some dogs, it can encourage them to think that aggression is okay. Note: I loved playing tug of war with Bella until I learned this can cause behavioral issues in your Boston when it comes to dominance.
As a dog owner, never hit your puppy. Instead, punish your dog by taking away treats or walking away. She won’t understand why you’re hitting her anyway. Hitting only makes your dog afraid of you. This will set back your socialization training.
How Do I Socialize My Boston? Step by Step
The sooner you socialize your Boston Terrier, the better. Most dog owners suggest that you expose your puppy to a variety of situations early on to help her adjust to the big world around her. Here are some ways to socialize your pup, step by step.
1) Getting used to dogs
As soon as your vet vaccinates your puppy, you can safely expose her to other dogs. Invite friends with their dogs for playtime in your backyard or inside your house. This gives your puppy an introduction to other dogs but in a controlled and safe environment.
While she’s playing with your friend’s dog, watch to see if she gets aggressive. Pick her up if she nips or gets too rough. Tell her “No!” and hold her a moment. Then put her back down and see if she does it again.
If she does, repeat your command and pick her up. Do this until she sees that she can’t play if she’s being too rough. Puppies that don’t get socialized won’t know how to act around other dogs. They are fearful or too rough or aggressive.
2) Getting used to humans
Take your Boston on walks around your neighborhood. Ask your neighbors to walk up to say hello to your pup. Have them pet her and talk to her. Your puppy will learn that humans are safe to be around.
Invite friends over to your house, have a cookout allow your dog to mingle with people, as long as she isn’t grabbing food or having other bad manners. This exposes her to people-their voices, their gestures and the loud sounds they make.
3) Getting used to different situations
Take your puppy on car rides. Walk to a park. Take her to your child’s soccer game. If she’s calm enough, carry her through a store that allows dogs. All these different experiences will social her and get her used to her world without fear or anxiety.
Slow is Fast
Take each step slowly, allowing your Boston to adapt to each scenario. If she seems anxious or upset, back off and give her space. Here are some other signs that your puppy is overwhelmed by the socializing situation.
- Ears back
- Lip licking
- Sleeping at weird times
- Tail tucked underneath her
- Head-turning away from people
If your dog displays any of these signs, remove her from the situation. Let her calm down a bit. Play with her or pet her calmly. She’ll relax, and you can try the situation another time.
When Is It too Late To Socialize My Boston?
It’s never too late to socialize your Boston Terrier. Although the ideal time to socialize your dog is when she’s a puppy, sometimes that’s not possible because you adopted her later in life or you just weren’t able to socialize her. That’s okay. You can socialize your Boston at any age. It might be challenging some times, but your dog will respond to you consistent, patient socialization training.
Socializing Older Boston’s
Take your adult Boston on walks. Buy a good leash that helps you control her. As she comes in contact with other dogs and people along the way, she’ll learn how to handle herself. If she gets too excited, give the leash a good tug to remind her to settle down.
Need to know how many walks you should go on a day with your Boston? Check out my article on, How Much Exercise Do Boston’s Need.
Introduce your Boston to friends and family. Put your Boston on a leash and allow your friends to approach your dog. Have them greet her and pet her. Speak calmly to her. Pet her when she shows calm, good manners. Give your friends treats to hand out to your dog as she interacts with them.
3) Dog Parks
At first, dog parks can overwhelm some dogs. If you have a well-bred Boston, she’ll do fine. Boston’s can hold their own at the dog park even with the big dogs.
4) Slow is Fast
If your Boston has an anxious streak, take it slow with her, working up to a dog park experience. On the first trip, walk your Boston around the edge of the fence around the park. This allows her to get used to the sounds and smells of the place.
Let her watch the other dogs. Give her treats as she sniffs the dogs who come up to the fence. Read her body language. If she acts afraid or anxious, move away from the fence. Then try again in a few minutes.
5) Always Stay Calm
Stay calm while socializing your Boston. Don’t make a big deal of her fearful behavior. Don’t coddle her or hug her. This will cause her behavior to get worse. Instead, ignore it, just remove her from the situation she’s afraid of and try again later. Your calm demeanor will affect your Boston Terrier helping her calm down and relax.
What Should I Avoid When Socializing My Boston Terrier With Other Dogs?
When you’re socializing your dog around other dogs, there are some practical things to do.
Be sure you know your dog
A dog owner shared a true story of a man who went to the dog park with his new dog. Within 10 minutes, his dog attacked another dog, tearing her ear. He told the owner of the injured dog that he’d just adopted the dog. His new dog was aggressive, but he didn’t know it because he didn’t really know his dog.
Don’t force socialization
Some dogs are shy or loners. They don’t like a big crowd of dogs around. These dogs might have missed socialization as a puppy. Or had a bad experience with a dog in the past. Whatever the reason, don’t force your dog to socialize with other dogs.
Leave right away
If you see an aggressive dog at the dog park or doggie daycare, remove your dog. Trust your gut, if you sense the situation or a dog isn’t safe, leave. Your dog’s life could depend upon it. If you’re at doggie daycare, notify the staff about what you observed to prevent another dog from getting injured.
Socializing your Boston Terrier should begin when she’s a young puppy. Exposing her to different people, sounds, and situations early will overcome her fears. Introduce her to other dogs, one or two at a time is best. Don’t force her to socialize if she’s anxious or fearful.
Introduce her to dog parks, step by step so she can adjust to the other dogs, noise and smell. At the dog park, watch the other dogs. If you sense something isn’t right, leave.