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  Topic Review (Newest First)
Today 03:53 PM
Cassidy's Mom We've been taking our dogs to off leash parks for 17 years - not to play with other dogs though, they play with us and with each other. We live in a densely populated major metropolitan area with a tiny yard. There's simply no way to adequately exercise them without taking them someplace else, and around here there are either parks where dogs are not allowed at all, parks where dogs are allowed on leash only, or open space areas where dogs are allowed off leash. There are no open fields.

Dena certainly didn't suffer from it, she didn't have a reactive bone in her body, and her social skills with other dogs were masterful. Keefer is extremely social, wants to meet every dog he sees, and gets excited around them. Is that due to going to off leash parks? Maybe, maybe not. Halo first started going when she was 15 weeks old. She strutted around like she owned the joint and learned many things at the park:

We have to sit before the ball is thrown

Water is fun, and so is climbing on rocks

Grass is interesting

She followed Keef into the water, learning to swim

This is the dog that has been racing in flyball for 5 years - off leash in a ring with 7 other high drive intense dogs, most of them barking, and dozens of people, tuning all of that out to get a tennis ball from the box and bring it to me for some tug play. This is the dog that we brought to a dock diving event, never having seen a pool or a dock before, that jumped right in with no hesitation, the very first time. Has going to off leash parks hindered her ability or enthusiasm for engaging with us? Clearly not!

For MY dogs, I think all this early exposure to being off leash around lots of other dogs and has been highly beneficial. They learn social skills, and other dogs become merely background noise, a totally routine part of their life from an early age vs a novelty. But, I have access to great open space parks where you can spread out and have lots of room to play with your dogs, and I have sound dogs. Halo has always been extremely confident, she was fearless from 10 weeks old when we got her so I wasn't concerned about overwhelming her. Puppy Keefer took his cue from Dena, and puppy Halo did the same with him.

I wouldn't take them to those small fenced dog parks where people sit around and watch their dogs play. At our parks we're basically walking along with our dogs, who are off leash, stopping to play from time to time around other people who are doing the same with their dogs. Because so many people don't have big yards or even yards at all, the vast majority of dogs we've encountered have been well behaved and well mannered because they've taken obedience classes and also go to off leash parks regularly. We've also had several GSD meets at various parks, which are great fun. What's interesting is that when we have met up with other GSD friends, is that while all the dogs are in the same area together, dogs from the same household tend to play with each other rather than with dogs owned by other people.

Whenever I hear people say dog parks are terrible, or dog parks are wonderful, my reaction is always: depends on the park, depends on the dog. Some parks wouldn't be appropriate for any dog, some dogs wouldn't be appropriate for any kind of park. But if you have solid dogs and great multi-acre off leash parks, it can be a lot of fun. I'm fortunate to have that opportunity here, although when I see other people post photos of their property with tons of space for them to train and play with their dogs I am totally envious! And I can see why people who have access to all that space wouldn't understand why people who live in the kind of place that I do take our dogs to off leash parks.
Today 01:09 PM
konathegsd My cattle dog was taken to dog parks and is now extremely reactive. My gsd was never taken to a dog park and loves all dogs and is very reliable in a off leash setting with other dogs (like a open field, not a dog park) she was attacked multiple times by off leash dogs while she was on leash. Luckily she still loves dogs and recovers very quickly. Kona was never socialized with children. She loves kids. She was only socialized heavily to sounds,surfaces, environment, and other dogs from a distance. I rarely let her greet other dogs.
Yesterday 12:29 PM
Way Too Quiet
Originally Posted by carmspack View Post
how is your pup doing?
Loooooong story between then and now, but I ended up returning him to his breeder just recently. He was always unpredictable. One day it seemed he was trustworthy and the next day, week, month, nope! I have a fantastic breeder and she tried helping me with him but in the end we both agreed he was better off back with her, where he can be managed and better trained, than with me. It's been incredibly heartbreaking as well as exhausting as I still love and care for him and always will. I am going to check out pups from her current litter this weekend. I may well be starting this whole journey all over again. But, I have learned so much and I know it will be of value for my next dog. Live and learn, right?
01-09-2017 11:03 AM
kshadow I personally don't want my dogs to play with other dogs besides same household dogs. I want my dogs to be indifferent to other dogs.

I do not go to dog parks anyways it's a ''step in poop'' place full of dogs and owners I DO NOT KNOW. My 8 month bernese mountain dog got attacks by a off leashed little dog when she was out on her very first walk. She has not been in contact with other dogs besides seeing them on a walk, she looks at them but doesn't really care.
IMO I do not know the other dogs. How they've been raised, if they are sick if they have fleas etc....
I do not go to puppy classes for 2 reasons. #1 They are 2 hours away from where I live lol and #2 I don't want to teach my dogs that it is so exciting to see other dogs. I also don't want them to learn unwanted behaviors.

Socializing a dog for me is to let the dog see that everywhere we go no matter what we see is around us is no big deal!
12-04-2016 10:30 PM
cdwoodcox I used to feel bad like I should be making more of an effort to get Rosko around other dogs. He was out in public with me everywhere. If he could go in he did. If not he sat in the truck. So he got plenty of people exposure. No dog exposure. We own an old toy poodle but he has been anti social Rosko's lifetime. He played with a Husky pup that a guy who works for me owns one time around 4 months of age. Then at about 6 months we went back to where I got him so my wife could meet his parents. He got to play with his brother Sam and his mother (mostly sam) for an hour or so that day. I took him to play with Sam probably 4 times total. Those two became best friends quick. Besides that until we got Athena no dogs. Then Apollo came along. At 19 months old He is totally indifferent to dogs. I remember at one time he would see a dog from my truck and whine and bark but now he could care less. Athena and Apollo have no outside of the home dog socialization they don't seem to care too much about dogs either. I try and limit their people socialization also. Occasionally someone will approach and go on how beautiful of a German Shepherd one of them are and will ask to pet. I usually let them but most people I just tell them were working on indifference to people so not the best time. So after reading some of this stuff I feel better about being stingy with my dogs.
12-04-2016 08:44 PM
wolfy dog
Originally Posted by lrodptl View Post
Everything I've read says it is pertinent to get a puppy socialized by 4 months old. I complied with August and I don't believe he had any negative experiences at this doggy daycare. All the dogs there are vetted and all are dog friendly. Despite all his socialization and again I never saw anything negative,he is mistrustful of dogs. I think it might have been different if I had continued the socializing,but early socialization was not a magic cure.
From the puppy's point of view: have a pack of 'dog-friendly' Labradors run up to you and you acquire PTSD for life about dogs. What we call 'dog-friendly' can very well be bully behavior. Depends on how educated the day care employees are about behavior. The fact that they admit an 8 week old doesn't show this IMO.
Pups learn dog behavior from their mother and sibs and therefor should spend ample time with them until they are at least 9 - 10 weeks old.
12-04-2016 05:55 PM
carmspack Hello folks. I just want to say that I love this web site. Some of my fondest memories I have is when I was a young boy spending time with my German Shepherd. But like pups turn into dogs so that young boy turned into a grown man trying to help my wife raise our kids and get them grown. I never realized that I said it all the time but my youngest son told me I would always say that I wanted a German Shepherd for ME. FF years and all my kids are gone, the the plant I had worked for 33 years is shut down. Old with an empty nest and unemployed. I got that German Shepherd and we became fast friends. Then I got a job 200 miles from home. Took my new best friend with me. We lived in a camper on the river. The bonding is impossible to explane but those days went from being the worst days of my life to almost the best and it was because of a GSD. My best friend recently died and shortly afterwards I found this site and read many posts where people really felt the same pain that I did over their GSD loss. Thanks for all the tender hearts out there. You guys helped. Im soon to be getting a full brother to my previous GSD. Thanks everybody for your posts, I love em all!

Maybe I should have put this with my introduction post.
You Tube

There is a lot to learn from this one . I hope shooter will give a periodic update - video journal to show how it is done with good sense , feeling and patience .
11-06-2016 02:09 PM
Deb I took Enya to Lowes with us today. In the parking lot was a GSD barking from the open bed of a pickup truck. Since he was barking at everyone, it was nonstop barking. Enya looked once and then ignored him. Inside as we were leaving two small dogs walked past us as we stood in the check out line. They barked and lunged and were dragged away. I told her sit, she'd get up, I'd tell her sit, she would, then get back up. But not a bark or growl from her, merely curiosity and wanting to go see closer. As they passed the couple in line behind us loudly said 'It's nice this dog is so nicely trained'. Well, if you count a puppy sitting, standing, sitting, standing well behaved. *G* Had we not been standing in line, I would have moved away from them. The dogs waited until they were almost on her to act aggressively. So you don't know what another dog will do. It's not worth it to walk up to a strange dog thinking they 'look and act friendly'. Friendly can change in an instant.
11-06-2016 09:36 AM
Originally Posted by carmspack View Post
and that is why I started this thread !

I am sure you were acting on your best intentions . You are not alone .

I don't know when this concept of socializing young pups, or dog parks was "sold" to the public .

It is so contrary to the nature and needs of the dog . Have we lost common sense , are so urban that we no longer understand an animal as an animal, have humanized them , pressured by some peta agenda that makes the person feel good ?


Dogs do not need to be "socialized" to the contact of other dogs.

When I was a kid there weren't any puppy or doggie daycare, or commercial playtime sessions.
Certainly no dedicated facilities with two way mirrors or video feeds.

This is the worst . You weren't even there for your pup to look toward you for support or guidance.

I wonder if there was any successful customer.

a bit of passion here - not singling you out -- I honestly think you had the best of intentions.

Everything I've read says it is pertinent to get a puppy socialized by 4 months old. I complied with August and I don't believe he had any negative experiences at this doggy daycare. All the dogs there are vetted and all are dog friendly. Despite all his socialization and again I never saw anything negative,he is mistrustful of dogs. I think it might have been different if I had continued the socializing,but early socialization was not a magic cure.
11-06-2016 08:53 AM
MineAreWorkingline When I was growing up, there were no leash laws, doggie daycares, dog parks, etc.

It was common for people to own two or three dogs, all kept intact, all ran loose in the streets.

The dogs, even new puppies, all hung together with the kids, played with us, walked with us, and chased us on our bikes.

Dogs grew up being savvy in doggie social skills. Fights were rare, even when females were in heat and males followed in packs.

All of this ended with leash laws and helped create leash reactivity and a lack of doggie social skills. Most don't qualify these behaviors as good family pet material nor does it remind us of our childhood dogs from back then.

Perhaps this is where and why doggie daycares, dog parks, etc., have risen to popularity.

@carmspak What was it like with dogs when you were growing up? What did families and children do to enjoy them?
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