An unsocialized dog can not only be annoying, but it can be dangerous. A dog that hasn't been properly socialized can become fearful and/or aggressive. Socializing your dog is crucial to teaching your dogs that other animals, humans, noises, etc. are not a cause for worry or alarm. Teaching your dog these things will go a long way in building your dog's confidence, thus reducing the chance he or she could turn aggressive. Here are a few tips on socialization:
Start socializing your dog as soon as possible. It's never too early to begin this process. Get your puppy used to things that could otherwise be scary right off the bat.
Introduce your dog to as many people as possible
We will actually approach people and ask them to pet our dogs. We want them to know that people are mostly good. You want your dog to approach people in a friendly manner, and not be suspicious of them. Although there are times you want your dog to be protective, those times are much less likely to occur than are the times you want your dog to be friendly. A fearful dog can become aggressive, so do your part to keep your dog and others safe.
Introduce your dog to as many situations as possible
Your dog needs to be exposed to anything that he/she can learn from (loud noises, cars, escalators, things blowing in the wind, etc.). We try to introduce our puppies to many different scenarios. This only prepares them and helps them be a more solid dog down the road.
Introduce your dog to as many dogs as possible
Use caution here, though. Make sure the other dog is on a leash and is friendly. Getting your dog jumped by another dog will actually make things worse. (One side note: stay away from off-leash dog parks. There are a lot of people who take their dog-aggressive dogs there, and don't watch them. Plus, it only takes 3 dogs to have a pack, so the whole idea of several untrained dogs running freely is a bad idea and a problem waiting to happen.)
Following these steps can help you effectively socialize your dog so that he or she is ready for the real world. It can make things more safe for everyone, and help keep you (and your pup) out of trouble.