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carmspack 01-23-2014 04:41 PM

rethinking "popular" early socialization
take note of the word "popular"

How many dogs have been damaged by early socialization .
If the forum is a fair , random, sampling , I would say quite a few.

so let that be the opening salvo to open the discussion .

NancyJ 01-23-2014 04:44 PM

The only dogs I had issues with were the ones I did "random puppy playtime" with. I don't think they learned "proper" dog behavior from that experience.

I was careful with the current dog to only let him interact with stable adult dogs after he left the litter, and now he is fine, even with other dogs acting snarky around him.

vomlittlehaus 01-23-2014 04:51 PM

I really thought I did a disservice to my second litter. I had surgery and was not able to get them out. I really dont think that weighed as much as I had originally thought. VERY sensitive is an understatement. I think that had more to do with it. My singleton I just had last summer I made sure to get out everywhere. Very easy to do with just one. But I also think his breeding had a lot to do with his even temperament. Very social, not easily phased, biddable, total clown.

Dudes mom 01-23-2014 05:00 PM

Just gonna comment on my 2 current dogs because they are the 1st puppies I have raised in years.

If we are talking in terms of early socialization as just "exposure to" (sights sounds etc...), then I consider it successful. Nothing really phases them but I am still careful with them. We have a community of minunites (sp?) who use their horse and cart to come to town when they need to shop. The first time the boys saw one, and it was physically close, I'd say about 10ft from us, they were curious but nonreactive. I think this is because I have always taken them with me places and they have seen so many things.

If we are talking about socializing with other dogs, I haven't done that. Everyone I know with dogs, doesn't have a dog I would want my dog to grow up to be like :)

Lilie 01-23-2014 05:03 PM

I think forced socialization becomes the problem. When the handler becomes so obsessed with their puppy being buddies with all other canines. I think that puts too much stress on the puppy as well as the handler. Stress = breakdowns in social patterns.

Harry and Lola 01-23-2014 05:05 PM

When I look at my current 2 - they were both taken along to the local dog park at around 16 weeks for socialisation. With Lola on her first outing, I misjudged a dog and he went for her, I have never forgiven myself for that and was careful with her from then on, however there were 2 other occasions where she was really frightened. Her easy going, fantastic nature has prevailed, however her attacks were from large breed dogs and to this day she is not very comfortable around larger dogs - little dogs she loves. Harry didn't have any issues with other dogs, however imo he grew a little too sure or himself and dominant, almost like a bully too young.

My next GSDs, will I take them to the dog park? NO, I don't think I will, as someone else said, I will only allow them around really stable older dogs.

I have seen many a puppy come into a dog park and attacked. When I think about these situations, both owners (puppy owner and dog attacking owner) were at fault. The puppy owners are nervous and this impacts on the puppy and the attacking dog picked up on the puppies instability through nervousness.

My previous GSDs were not taken to dog parks and I don't recall any instability with them.

Muskeg 01-23-2014 05:07 PM

Yes, indeed. I have fully hopped on board the anti-puppy playtime wagon. With my next pup, or if I have a litter, the pups will socialize with their "pack" and stable adult dogs only. I'd vastly prefer my dogs ignore other dogs than get excited about them. It is very annoying to have a dog that blows you off when another dog is around- for whatever reason- reactivity-defense or playfulness. I think the best way to raise a pup is to expose him/her to other dogs but not interact with them. That way, strange dogs just become background noise. If I was raising a pup with no other dogs in the household, I'd seek out stable adults to interact with- preferably of the shepherd variety. But I'd avoid puppy playtime unless it was one on one with a pup and owner I knew well and who had similar views on puppy raising.

Since we do see off leash dogs every day, my gold standard is to have an adult dog that is OK with a brief "hello" from another dog (less than five seconds), then ignores the dog and moves on. I've found this to be a reasonable expectation and one that works well in the dog social world as well.

NancyJ 01-23-2014 05:21 PM

As far as experiences. We pretty much went anywhere and everywhere. Except for doggy places.

Vagus 01-23-2014 05:21 PM

When I got first got my puppy, I fully intended on socializing him as much as possible, because I thought that was the right thing to do. In puppy school, he was the quiet one. He didn't leave my side and wouldn't play with the other dogs during the designated socialisation time. The trainer told us to pick him up and put him in the middle and he'd just walk right back to me. He did watch them very curiously though and would wag his tail when he saw them playing with each other. It seemed he was just unsure of himself.

At the beach he would walk flush up against my leg, never leaving my side (no leash) and even tucking in his tail when little dogs barked at him. These behaviours made me think I had a timid puppy who would eventually grow up to become fearful dog. Despite everything online saying socialise socialise socialise, I decided to give him a break and build his confidence at home while limiting the chance of anything traumatising happening to him in the outside world. Now at 16 months he's bursting with confidence! He loves every dog and person he meets and if the dog is snappy he just moves along like nothing happened. I saw the shift from around 6 months on, and couldn't be happier with him. He was clearly out of his comfort zone when he was in these situations as a puppy, and I'm glad I didn't push him too much.

We did start go to a training club when he was around 5 months old, which I figured should be fine since it's a controlled situation. There are a few different trainers there who have met him on separate occasions and all of them have commented on his great disposition.

We played a lot of tug (letting him win almost always), lots of positive reinforcement, and limited exposure to potentially nasty situations. Not as much socialisation as I intended, but I'm so happy with the outcome

Sookie 01-23-2014 05:24 PM

Sookie's first six months (after being saved from the streets where kids were stoning her - they killed a couple of her siblings) were at a rescue whe she lived in a huge pen with 4-5 other pups. She interacted/played with the other 200 or so dogs there, as well as cats, kittens, and the family who runs the rescue. Basically running wild and free on a "dalmation plantation" set-up :)

She loves other dogs and playing with them, but she only really gets to play at doggie daycare; when we are walking and other dogs approach she is interested but not insane about them. She isn't scared of dogs or anything; she is very intense and energetic but nothing startles her. I don't know if that's from her early days or what but you can vacuum around her and close gunshots don't faze her. But maybe she wouldn't have had any nervousness or sensitivity regardless of her early "mega-socialisation." It's nice though - you can really park the running vacuum next to her and she doesn't care :)

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