The mistake? Thinking that your puppy will be socialized by making him say hi to dogs or people, and that letting dogs “work it out’ is always a good idea.
Remember this playgroup mantra: “Are these dogs a good match for my dog *right now*?”
No matter how much you want to be there, or how much your dog liked it yesterday, your puppy gets veto power and does not have to stay in a social situation. Watch body language carefully for distance-increasing behavior.
By letting your dog have a say in picking which dogs and people to interact with, and when, you build confidence and empower the social skills that will let your dog make more friends for life.
Always let your dog set the pace of socialization. Sometimes that means saying no to fun puppy play groups or other opportunities, like daycare, or disappointing your friends who want to pet your puppy.
Good news: after this video was shot I was able to come across several dogs on our walk, including two dog friends that he hung out with for the last 30 minutes of the walk. Yay!