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Old 03-12-2014, 03:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default lots of socialization threads lately have led me to a question about my new pup.

My new boy is from rescue. He is not from a good breeder. His genetics are pretty well unknown. I do know, that I choose him because I didn't think he would be a good fit for a family with kids. He is fearful. We got him at 12 weeks and have spent the last 4 weeks getting him used to my dogs and my husband. He would bark and growl when hubby came home from work. Now he is starting to head for treats, progress right? Last week he got his 16 weeks shots so I can take him out and socialize. How can I best do this without traumatizing him? I took him to the vet yesterday for so socialization but he was pretty scared. I let him hide under my chair and just watch. vet tech and girls from reception gave him treats. He doesn't even like the car ride. I took him for a short ride with my car loving dog Ivan and he just sat huddled on floor. I realize he may never be social and I don't really care about a social dog. I just want to help him become less fearful of things. It will be a long slow process, I'm sure. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-12-2014, 03:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Our rescue pup was like this when we first got him... Cowered at the vets, and when I introduced him to our trainer. Barked at everyone on walks.

I introduced him to new things slowly, and repeatedly. His first walk at the park was stressful for him. But I took him again and again, and now he's great. Petsmart was the same thing... We just praised him a ton, did not coddle him or pet him when he was afraid, worked very hard at the "leave it" and "look" commands and over a few months he was greatly improved. He can go to any park, any store, the vets, etc. with no issues, and he has lots of fun. I won't let people or dogs approach him if he's acting nervous, and I keep him in a stay when people come over until he relaxes. Then he can greet the guest and get some treats. I try to make sure he knows it's my job to handle things, not his.

I don't believe his is naturally a very fearful dog, but his confidence needed a lot of help - occasionally a certain person or dog will make him nervous, but overall he's gotten a lot better. Hope this helps!


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Old 03-12-2014, 04:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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going to the vet and having over zealous young lady vet techs converge on him, already trying to minimize his presence , and plying him with treats.
first of all you treat below the threshold , not on top or over because then you inadvertently rewarding the wrong place in his mind.
you should care about a social dog because that is what makes him safe and confident in a variety of environments. It is not always about the initial response , but the recovery and resilience .

You don't want him inhibited . Being social does not mean being a social butterfly, all fellows well met, heart on sleeve dog . That is contrary to what a good GSD should be.

I wouldn't go to the petsmarty and I wouldn't go to the dog park . He does not need to get personal with dogs met on walks. Just keep on going. He has your Ivan as a dog friend.
On that note I would not have them so together all the time that the young dog annoys Ivan , and that the young dog becomes too dependant on Ivan.
Each is an individual.

You don't need to flood the dog with experience , moving along as if crossing off items from a check list .

One quiet excursion , pleasant , something that you would want to repeat and build on. Next day build on that . Additive and accumulative .
just keep on going places and you be relaxed .
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Old 03-12-2014, 04:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Put him in your bubble. What things do you like to do? What places do you go that you'd like your dog to go with you? If you didn't have a dog, would you go to the dog park? If you like to go to parks and hike, take your dog there. If you like to go to the beach, take your dog there.
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Old 03-12-2014, 04:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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first of all you treat below the threshold , not on top or over because then you inadvertently rewarding the wrong place in his mind.

Could you clarify? What is treat below the threshold? Do I tell them not to give him treats?

you should care about a social dog because that is what makes him safe and confident in a variety of environments. It is not always about the initial response , but the recovery and resilience .

Ok now my turn to clarify. I worded that poorly its not that I don't care, its that I don't normally put dogs in situations where they have to be social. I don't take dogs to dog parks, or around places where there are a lot of people or animals. They need to be social only with people I'm social with (which isn't very many).

You don't want him inhibited . Being social does not mean being a social butterfly, all fellows well met, heart on sleeve dog . That is contrary to what a good GSD should be.

just keep on going places and you be relaxed .
How do I react when he barks or growls. Do I correct or ignore?
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Old 03-12-2014, 04:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I do not correct for that. When Seger is unsure of something and hackles up, I get VERY happy.

What is THAT??!! Let's go SEE! Good Boy! Look at this! You're a rock star!

He has solid genetics and apparently a lot of trust in me. As soon as I put my hand on whatever it is he's unsure, it's all over. He sniffs and moves on.

Don't force him into situations. Keep things as calm as possible. My vet is the best because both of the guys just ignore the dogs, toss them treats, while they talk to us. They let the dogs approach them.

People that come over, just toss treats, praise him. Make it a game. They love games.
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Old 03-12-2014, 04:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Put him in your bubble. What things do you like to do? What places do you go that you'd like your dog to go with you? If you didn't have a dog, would you go to the dog park? If you like to go to parks and hike, take your dog there. If you like to go to the beach, take your dog there.
haha that's my problem. I don't go anywhere or do anything. I clean house, I play with my dogs on our 5 acres, I read books, I am on my computer. I go grocery shopping (don't take dogs). To doctors appointments (again don't take dogs), I volunteer at the Safe Haven (don't usually take dogs) sometimes I do, but he was born there so its not out of his comfort zone. We go out to dinner maybe once or twice a week (don't take dogs). In the summer we occasionally go exploring (hiking) type stuff on weekends and sometimes we take dogs but not into places where there are people. Basically we are very boring people.
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Old 03-12-2014, 04:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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haha that's my problem. I don't go anywhere or do anything.
LOL! Well, your homework is for you and your dog to go to one NEW place this week! How about a local feed store? Most of them allow dogs. Go price dog food, toys leashes etc. at the feed store.....and take your dog!!!
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ya know what, don't worry about it. If you get a very shaky pup and put it with a family that is very inexperienced and this is their only dog, it is a set up for failure. They want to take the dog everywhere and do everything with it, and it will drive a scaredy dog nutso.

What you are is an experienced dog person who has other dogs. Just relax with the puppy. Do what you would do with a pup if it didn't have questionable limits. Go play on your five acres, and get the pup used to your life.

Going outside YOUR comfort zone and doing stuff, specifically to socialize this puppy, is kind of like making the shy dog the center of attention.

Going out ONCE a week, either to the vet office for a quick weigh and halloo and out, or to the feed store for a quick trip through, look at a few prices and out -- fine. Just loading him in the car, running for a bottle of milk, and leaving him in the car for a 10 minute round trip -- that's an outing for this week.

Just let your stable adult dogs, and your relaxed and experienced self help your puppy gain confidence by not doing too much, too quick.

If you go out every day and meet a new person, place or thing, for a whole year, and then stay home on your five acres for the next 10, what difference would it have made.

Personally, if this pup is still seriously lacking confidence at six months old, I would probably sign up for a beginners rally or agility class, and start usuing some very positive treat-training to help build the confidence. But for these two months, I would just chill with the pup, and maybe take it out once a week for a quick easy something.
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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nah , the vet is a charged environment . You have to appreciate that there are smells of fear from other distressed or nervous animals. A lot of dogs aren't good there - why take a young pup there to have this telegraphed to them.
Plus , once again he will be the target of attention .

Feed-store is an excellent place because by and large the people are pretty blasť about dogs and animals - down to earth . He won't be so pounced on . Generally there aren't other dogs there.
Good idea on that one.

Leaving the dog in the car can be risky because you could have people tapping on the window class provoking him intentionally or not , and then you end up with a wary dog ready to bark at passers by.

take him for that ride and then walk him for 5 minutes , once around the block or to some landmark and back - on the other side and pass the car -- and then come back to it on the correct side.

if you have family and friends coming over then make sure he behaves himself . he doesn't need to be mauled - everyone mind their own business . it is about getting appropriate response in a situation. the introduction to different situations are observation and teaching moments to guide the dog to a desirable response.
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