Socialization tips for an introvert? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Socialization tips for an introvert?

Hi all,

My Summer is about 5 months old now. She has had some socialization with close friends and family, but I'm sort of an introvert myself, so I tend to take her to less populated places - the levee or nature trails. She's only had a little socialization with other dogs, because 1) not many of my friends have dogs and 2) the one that does has an overly-energetic, sort of aggressive dog that focuses more on dominating Summer than playing with her

I'm soliciting tips for better socializing her both with people and dogs because I've noticed that as she gets older, she's starting to act a bit more protective of me (which is good), but I don't want her to be TOO protective. Also, when we're out walking, she sometimes seems skittish of some people, but not with others. Today, she sort of backed away from a mom walking with her little girl who was maybe 5 years old. Usually when she does this, I tell her it's ok, and she wags her tail and is fine, but today, she barked and frightened the little girl. I felt AWFUL. So I'd like to prevent that from happening again. So any advice for boosting her confidence around strangers?


P.S. If any of you happen to live in the New Orleans area and have a dog my girl could play with, let's meet up!
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 10:55 AM
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Don't live near New Orleans but some ideas.
Take her to a training or agility class that is held at a public park or area.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 11:13 AM
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I'm pretty introverted too, and also just got a puppy - he's 3 months now. I have to push myself a bit to get out right now so the puppy gets better socialization.

For people socialization, I went to a couple of local coffee shops downtown (tiny little town, so take "downtown" with a grain of salt! )with outdoor tables for coffee or breakfast. I'd bring a close friend or the hubby along, so I wouldn't have to talk too much to strangers. We'd just sit and let the world go by. Quite a few people need to stop and pet the puppy, and puppy gets to see and hear quite a variety of people, strollers, buggies, bikes, skateboards, vehicles, etc.

We've just started with our dog socialization. We have another dog at home, so that helps, but most of our friends don't have dogs either. Puppy had his 2nd round of shots a couple of weeks ago and the vet gave us the go-ahead to get out (parvo isn't really active here the past few years), so we're doing trail walks right after work when there's a lot of other people out walking their dogs. We're also doing a puppy class. Will seque into an obedience class when the puppy class is over.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 11:25 AM
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I would also consider myself an introvert and had to force myself to put my dog in new situations. Just realize that socialization for dogs doesn't require direct contact. What the dog really needs is just to see and experience. Taking it lots of places and letting to see lots of things. To have a well behaved dog it's not required that your dog play with other dogs or people.

When I first had my puppy it would go every it could with me. Stores, coffee shops, restaurant patio's, parks, large cities, etc etc. The only real time I took him around other dogs was dog training classes. Even then dog to dog interaction is limited to the puppy level classes. I would go to the dog park, but would just work on training in a corner. All the while the dog is learning that none of this stuff is a real big deal and that you (the human) are awesome and better than everything else.

Last edited by CroMacster; 08-26-2014 at 11:27 AM.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 11:35 AM
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I'm going to join the crowd and own up to being an introvert too! I have extreme social anxiety, which doesn't fair well with a new puppy OR being in a college town. I have to admit though that he has helped me come out of my shell a little bit. getting him was the recommendation of a few of my doctors for that exact reason. I had to force myself to go out into the world for the sake of my dog and get him out of the house and playing with other dogs. I would usually bring my boyfriend or roommate with me to restaurants with patios, coffee shops or for a walk around the block so i would have someone to talk to and wouldn't constantly have people walking up to me. It helped a LOT to have someone there with me. There are still people coming up asking to pet him and wanting to ask questions, which i'm okay with, but still makes me uncomfortable. That's where having someone with you helps out a lot and can handle the conversation too so not all the attention falls on you!

He has gotten to the point where he will bark at other dogs and sometimes people who walk past us and i always feel so bad that he might have scared someone. plus the added attention it brings to him and subsequently me as well. I just kind of had to suck it up for my dog and keep reminding myself that it's best for him to go outside the confines of the apartment, where i am comfortable.

I would absolutely recommend taking someone with you! also, go to a park where there are distractions but off in the distance where you and him are most comfortable while getting at least some outside stimulation.
Good luck!

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Last edited by sarahp; 08-26-2014 at 11:37 AM.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 11:48 AM
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well there sure are quite a few of us in here. I made a post awhile back about socializing your dog when you have social anxiety. I completely dropped the ball with Zoe bc of my own issues. I love her dearly and she is like a best friend to my children but she sucks at meeting new people. We are seeing a trainer now. She barks and lunges I'd we are out walking and she is overly affectionate and screams in excitement to get all over new people in the home. It is so overwhelming.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by ZoeD1217 View Post
It is so overwhelming.
I have to agree with the overwhelming part. there really isnt a good way to go about socializing when you are really introverted. i guess you have to pick the lesser of the two evils. go out and see the world as a puppy and get attention then, which makes us uncomfortable OR end up dealing with a larger dog that gets attention for the wrong reasons. Either way, there will be attention but maybe one is easier to deal with?
There really isn't a good way to go about it in this situation. i'd say do the best you can while maybe stepping outside of your comfort zone at least a little bit. Think about it benefiting your dog and maybe that will make it easier. no one will think different of you if it does get overwhelming and you have to walk away from the situation. Try out different places and bring friends! I found that in some parks, there are very nice people who also love dogs and you will start to make friends which makes it easier to get out and socialize.

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 12:38 PM
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I used to take my puppy to the grocery store and walk back and forth on the walkway. Fairs are also a great place to walk with lots of people and other dogs.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 12:44 PM
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I'll own up too. I'm an introvert as well. In fact, before I had dogs when I was living on my own I might have bordered on the reclusive. I've had close friends get worried because they wouldn't see me for weeks on end, or there would be times that I would run out of food, but wouldn't leave for a couple extra days because I was so anxious about going to the store. Just to give you an idea.

My dog(s) have been therapeutic for me. It's easier for me to go out with him. I'm still weird about direct contact (talking or interacting directly with a stranger) but a dog doesn't have to socialize directly. So jut going to a coffee shop and hanging out, going to a dog friendly patio, walking along a strip mall, etc are all good things to help with that process. If it helps you, work on some obedience and attention exercises to get your mind off other people and focused on your dog. It may help shift your focus so you aren't as nervous.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-26-2014, 01:36 PM
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We go to a beach board walk in a very dog friendly community and are constantly stopped with people wanting to pet our pup and talk about their own experiences with dogs, current and past. Having a German Shepherd seems to instantly put you into a family of other GSD owners. Everyone loves to talk about their dogs and if you listen and smile people will walk away thinking your are a very nice person to chat with.

As far as your dog, it seems that our pups go through phases. They have skittish phases and protective phases and knuckle head phases. It is your job to bring the pup's focus back to you and get clues on what behavior is appropriate in the situation.
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