When can a puppy start socializing in public(not Dog Parks)? (1st shots? last shots?) - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 07-16-2010, 05:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default When can a puppy start socializing in public(not Dog Parks)? (1st shots? last shots?)

We pick up our 8-week-old German Shepherd girl tomorrow morning (right after her first shots) and I seem to be getting conflicting information that I'm hoping to resolve.

Many of the books/articles/forums I read, stress the importance of socialization between 8-12 weeks, with no seeming room for error. The suggestion is that I get her out meeting as many people as possible in that 4-week period, while staying away from dog parks, pet shops and other obvious dog hangouts since she has not had her full compliment of shots.

Other sources, however (articles/vets), say exacly the opposite. They say we should not take her anywhere but our own backyard until her last shots are complete at 16 weeks (some say after the 2nd set, at 12 weeks).

The recommendations are directly in conflict with each other and there are a lot of sources supporting both sides.

Can anyone with deep knowledge in this area help to sort this out and give a recommendation that will both ensure she's socializing early and often but also keep her healthy? I'm concerned that she meet as many people as possible, as early as possible, to give her the best chance of a great disposition with humans...and many sources make it seem that 16 weeks is just too far out...but her health is obviously the number one priority.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer!!

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Old 07-16-2010, 05:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Do stay away from dog parks and other dog infested areas until the last set of shots, but know you can still socialize her by taking her everywhere else. My pup came to the grocery store with me riding right in the cart, went to my kids school daily, went to work with me, walked around the neighborhood and met all the neighbors, and pretty much any other errand I had to run outside of a pet store. She was my sidekick no matter where I had to go or what their rules about dogs were she still came- no one yells at a chic with a cute puppy
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Old 07-16-2010, 05:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robb View Post
Many of the books/articles/forums I read, stress the importance of socialization between 8-12 weeks, with no seeming room for error. The suggestion is that I get her out meeting as many people as possible in that 4-week period, while staying away from dog parks, pet shops and other obvious dog hangouts since she has not had her full compliment of shots.
We are on GSD puppy #4 and this is what we have always gone with.

Puppy 1, 2, and 3 were with us in Apartment Complexes with lots of dog friendly neighbors. Without a backyard you had to take the pup on a walk and it would encounter other dogs, places where other dogs have been, etc. It was always fine.

We stayed away from Parks and Pet Stores for a couple of reasons. Generally Parks have a LOT of dogs in a very concentrated area, sharing water and disease. I avoided Pet Stores that had shelter dogs for adoptions on the weekends. I applaud places like PetsMart and PetCo for allowing rescues the venue to showcase their adoptables...but we all know shelters are also rife with disease and while no one would intentionally bring a sick dog there are incubation periods and it does happen.

I do go to smaller holistic pet stores or places that are not really busy and do not have large animals. Stores like Lowe's are great, Outdoor flea markets, Tractor Supply. College Campuses are AWESOME.

Puppies 2, 3, and 4 went to SchH training once a week to see good dog people and other safe dogs. Restaurants where we could sit outside on the sidewalk as people go by.

Basically, do not underestimate the power of the "Walk". Walking in your neighborhood at a busy time of day can let your pup encounter cars, people working on their lawn (mowers and blowers are great noises!), people on bikes, people with other dogs, garage doors going up, kids, strollers, flags, maybe livestock if you live near the country...anywhere new that you can walk your dog is a good place to go.

And remember that socialization is NOT necessarily about interaction. You don't have to let every person pet your new puppy and you do not have to let every dog smell it either. (Too much can actually be overwhelming...think about people...after a little while you just DON't want to be poked and prodded anymore)

It's about Exposure and learning what the world looks like and smells like and how to act in it.
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Old 07-16-2010, 06:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Great article about socializing before 12 weeks:

http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonli...ialization.pdf
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Old 07-16-2010, 08:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JKlatsky View Post
We are on GSD puppy #4 and this is what we have always gone with.

Puppy 1, 2, and 3 were with us in Apartment Complexes with lots of dog friendly neighbors. Without a backyard you had to take the pup on a walk and it would encounter other dogs, places where other dogs have been, etc. It was always fine.

We stayed away from Parks and Pet Stores for a couple of reasons. Generally Parks have a LOT of dogs in a very concentrated area, sharing water and disease. I avoided Pet Stores that had shelter dogs for adoptions on the weekends. I applaud places like PetsMart and PetCo for allowing rescues the venue to showcase their adoptables...but we all know shelters are also rife with disease and while no one would intentionally bring a sick dog there are incubation periods and it does happen.

I do go to smaller holistic pet stores or places that are not really busy and do not have large animals. Stores like Lowe's are great, Outdoor flea markets, Tractor Supply. College Campuses are AWESOME.

Puppies 2, 3, and 4 went to SchH training once a week to see good dog people and other safe dogs. Restaurants where we could sit outside on the sidewalk as people go by.

Basically, do not underestimate the power of the "Walk". Walking in your neighborhood at a busy time of day can let your pup encounter cars, people working on their lawn (mowers and blowers are great noises!), people on bikes, people with other dogs, garage doors going up, kids, strollers, flags, maybe livestock if you live near the country...anywhere new that you can walk your dog is a good place to go.

And remember that socialization is NOT necessarily about interaction. You don't have to let every person pet your new puppy and you do not have to let every dog smell it either. (Too much can actually be overwhelming...think about people...after a little while you just DON't want to be poked and prodded anymore)

It's about Exposure and learning what the world looks like and smells like and how to act in it.
I brought Katie home from the shelter when she was 5 months old. Unfortunately I didn't get to raise her from day 1 til now, but I'm glad the previous owner did a good job on socializing her. I didn't take her out to meet other dogs until her 2nd round of shots were done. She was already potty trained, so she never went pooped or peed in the house. She also rarely poops or pees on her walks or in public.. I also discovered that Katie is friendly with ALL ages! When I bring her to the store, she loves children calling her "cute" and "pretty girl".

I've never brought Katie to a pet park because there's not that many around my area. The one around 20 minutes away from me has some horror stories, and a lot of drama regarding owners not caring about their dogs biting other dogs. To me, I don't want to stress myself out with dealing about that kind of stuff, so I just don't bring Katie there.

I live 4 minutes away from a Petco, so I usually bring Katie there. Every day of the week, there's a different number of people and dogs there. She interacts with the store's staff members, and sometimes other dogs with permission from the owner. A plus about Petco is that there's AC, and with the 95 degree weather out, I walk Katie around the store for about an hour! Not the ideal place to walk a dog, but it's keeping us both cool, and giving us both some daily physical activity.

My petco also has a bi-weekly "puppy social" on Sundays. With proof of vaccinations, you can bring your puppy to the puppy social where your puppy can interact with other puppies. The pet trainer first seperates the session by letting the "little" dogs play first (by weight class), then the bigger puppies such as the Huskies, GSDs get to play second. Then after that, all puppies interact and smell/play with each other. The owners also interact, telling each other various things such as common behavior issues, to what brand dog food is eaten. I think it's a good experience, and best of all it's free. The owner also gives out Halo dried treats, and Wellness Pet Jerkies, and various coupons such as coupons for Petco Brand dog toothpastes and toothbrushes.

I only Walk Katie in the evening due to the heat (around 8pm), and I walk her until 9pmish. A lot of people run/jog, and also walk their dogs around this time too. I take "new routes" around my neighborhood so Katie doesn't get to "used" to the surroundings and keep sniffing at familiar places. She loves watching people water the grass, and when she sees automatic lawn sprinklers on, she looks at me with these pleading eyes (She loves running through sprinklers). When Katie and I run into someone walking their dog, I ask for permission if they may sniff each other, and do so.

That's really all I do for "socializing" her, and I think it's good enough. Katie is a confident, friendly, and smart puppy. The only time she cowers is when I pick up my pots and pans (maybe her previous owner had something to do with that), but she is excited whenever she sees new people/dogs around.
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Last edited by Andrew; 07-16-2010 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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my pup was in his puppy class
after his 2nd round of shots. i invited
a lot of people to come visit our pup
at home.

we held play groups at our house.
one of my favorite places to socialize
is in front of the Super Market (the doors).
there's plenty of people coming and going that
want to pet a pup.

after my pup had his 3rd round of shots
we were in the woods a lot. we met joggers,
horses, dogs, children, etc.

i took my pup to Vet 3 or 4 times a week
for treats, petting and mock exams. our Vet
and trainer recommended the Vet visits.
our Vet or a member of her staff would come and
treat, pet, look in my pups mouth, lift his tail,
look in his ears, etc. i also gave him a ride
on the exam table. i would put him on the exam table
and make it go up and down. now when we go to the
Vet he runs to the front door.

i also made sure the mail carriers
petted and treat my pup on a daily basis.
now when the mail comes we open the front door
and our dog trots down the driveway takes the mail
from the mail person and brings it to us.

you can train and socialize anywhere and anytime.

good luck with the new pup.
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I've been having people come over and see Koda, as well as taking her on playdates with other dogs that I know are healthy. She's a very well-behaved, social girl.
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Old 07-16-2010, 11:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Same here, no visits to pet stores, dog parks, anywhere the pup could come in contact with dog feces, our vet doesn't even want a pup to sit on the floor of his office until the 2nd round of shots. That being said, the obedience club allows puppies into class at 8 weeks, presumably because they make sure all the other dogs have been vaccinated. I took ours to my office, visited the vet's office and sat on my lap, local college campus, nature trails. I just visited the local mall's security office and they said I could walk our 6 mo old in the mall before the stores open. They open the mall to walkers at 7 am. I told them I was training my puppy and it's so hot out right now, they were fine with it. My niece is helping with vacation bible school at her church and I even took him there to walk around and of course the kids went nuts over him. Just try to take your puppy as many places as you can think of- you'll be surprised how accepting many places are...and who doesn't love seeing a puppy?
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone!! I think we'll wait until her 2nd set of shots at 12 weeks and decide from there. Maybe just puppy kindergarten between her 2nd and 3rd set. The good thing is...she was heavily socialized with human adults and kids (as well as her litter-mates), constantly, her first 8 weeks so she's already extremely well-behaved around strange humans.

Thanks everyone!!
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Old 07-19-2010, 08:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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My mom has been caring for my GSD puppy since she was 8 weeks old (she turns 12 weeks old today!!) and so the socialization has been very low since she came home. She goes on daily walks around the neighborhood with my mom and Sobacca (my adult mix), and she's been to the vet office a couple of times..however past that she's not getting a lot exposure to new things -- except what goes on in the neighborhood.

That being said....I get home early next week and Socialization 101 begins! I will be taking both dogs EVERYWHERE they are allowed to go. Every morning I plan to spend at least 1-2 hours out somewhere in Jacksonville with the dogs -- town center to walk around, pet store, hiking/park (not dog park though), beach, friends' houses, and anywhere else I would be allowed to take two well-behaved dogs.

I think it will help her that Sobacca is so confident when we visit new places, and he has no problem going somewhere new and adjusting immediately and not being scared/skiddish of anything he's unsure of.
So she starts socialization at 13-weeks old, which I think will still be fine. I also plan on doing puppy obedience school with her for the socialization with other dogs (and the extra training won't be a bad thing). And going and checking out a SchH group which would give her even more socialization with people and dogs.
Big plans for this next year!!
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