Working/sport dogs- socialize? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Working/sport dogs- socialize?

hi guys, I have a few things I wanted some feedback on. So Anna is 6 months old now, she is starting to do much better with other dogs (as she use to be VERY Barky and sound really scary whenever we saw another dog). It seems as she gets older the reactions are going away and she's starting to play with a few dogs that I know (dogs who belong to friends of mine). My first question is, is it ok to socialize a sport/working dog with other dogs? Other protection sport people (mainly on Facebook) are telling me not to. They say if she discovers that other dogs are more fun she will stop listening to me.

My next question, I had Anna in petco, she was in a down, while I spoke with a friend (I was holding the leash and about a foot away from her). When she started to make this strange bark/growl/whine, the sounds she makes when we do bite work. I quickly looked at her to see what in the world she was doing and saw her staring very intensely at a lady who was about an isle away looking at a ferret cage. The women had a large bulky purse over her shoulder- ANNA THOUGHT IT WAS A SLEEVE!! (Or a tug- whatever). I said "Anna NO" moved her from her down, so that she was facing away from the lady and she stopped. Is this behavior normal? Do people who do protection sport just generally avoid public settings with there dogs? I wasn't to hard on her, she's only playing. should I have corrected her more for it?

Last thing- she is starting to drool like crazy when she sees her ball, or tugs. I took some pics while we played today.


Working/sport dogs- socialize?-imageuploadedbypg-free1394051661.042680.jpg

Working/sport dogs- socialize?-imageuploadedbypg-free1394051674.287241.jpg

Working/sport dogs- socialize?-imageuploadedbypg-free1394051685.468910.jpg

Working/sport dogs- socialize?-imageuploadedbypg-free1394051702.256497.jpg
(Lol look at her face)

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 03:59 PM
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Other than a few times in a controlled situation as a puppy, my dogs don't play with dogs outside their pack. Vala has a son that belongs to a club member and I have let the young dogs play with him at times. For the most part, though, my dogs don't need doggy friends. I only expect them to treat other dogs with respect and ignore them when on the field or in other daily situations.

I do take my dogs places as do most people who compete. My guys have been in hotel rooms and hung out visiting in the lobby. I take them to pet supply places and to the park. I live in the middle of no where so my dogs don't see many normal every day life type things so I will take them to town at times and just go for walks. When I showed horses my dogs also went to shows with me.

In the situation with the lady with the purse, getting her focus on you and reinforcing the down is how I would have handled it. She was in a down and whining and making noise is not part of the down. She is young and still needs to understand the rules.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 04:00 PM
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My dogs socialize with dogs that belong to close friends of mine who I trust, but not super frequently. They also are off leash around other dogs in both IPO and agility, so they are really used to it at this point. I also have 4 dogs of my own too, so its kind of like a group socialization thing within my own house

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 04:43 PM
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My dogs don't go socialize with strangers dogs, but they do with dogs we know. That's how it would be regardless of their "working" or sport status.

i've never had a problem having my dogs listen. I supposed if all I ever did was turn them loose with other dogs from day one and yelled commands at them they never learned nor listened to, i might have a problem. My friends that I take my dogs to, don't do the work with their dog I do with mine. I'm crazy, they're normal, but their dog has a real problem listening when he's playing with mine. So, last time I was there I blocked him from having any access to my lovely ladies until he listened to some OB commands from his mom and dad. And when he complied, access was granted we did that off and on over the weekend and guess who learned to listen a lot better with a little work?

But I do train my dogs, and I have zero problems with my dogs finding other dogs more fun than me, and if they do, they know to listen to me anyway

if the dogs are safe and I have control, I'm not going to lose any by letting them be dogs with other dogs. I think it's very healthy for dogs to be able to be around and hang out with other dogs. It's not necessary, but if I can, I am going to allow it.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 05:22 PM
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If I could do it all over again I would seriously cut down on socialization once the dog is past I say 6 months and limit it to (like other posters here) to dogs within the family and other close friend's dogs.

I socialized the **** out of my dog going for a long time. We had meetups with other off leash dogs, and I let him play with other dogs a lot. I then had to get a lot of work into him to make sure he understands when it's time to work and even till today he will lose focus and start sniffing around for play time.

Obviously we cleaned that up a lot (we did it by teaching him using other dogs that could care less about him that there's really nothing in it for him to run up to strange dogs - and that the good things in life are right here with me) - today you really won't be able to tell he's losing focus as a bystander (I can because I know him better than anyone else and I can tell when he's peeking around) but I just feel that maybe I wouldn't have had to spend the time working on focus around other dogs IF I didn't teach him it can be so much fun being around other dogs to begin with.

I know lot of people that do what I described I would do - a little socialization, with the understanding that it's not all that fun to play with strange dogs and the socialization gradually stops. Seems to work well for them - but I don't know if it's temperament vs the way they were raised.

But if I had to do it all over again, I would make other dogs to be as little of a deal as possible (as opposed to being a "big deal").

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 05:25 PM
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You can socialize. Just make a clear distinction between freetime and working time and punish checkouts when in working time when the dog should be on task.

I handle this two different ways depending on the age of the dog. Early on when dealing with puppies you want to use engagement exercises to make yourself look like the most fun thing in the world. High energy food and toy delivery and high rates of reinforcement. The working time for me starts with a "you ready?" Cue and ends with "all done." as the dog is older closer to 6 months or so you begin to use negative reinforcement or positive punishment when the dog gets distracted from the task at hand during work time.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 07:53 PM
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"Socializing" means different things to different people.

My dogs (well, my GSDs at least, the mutts not so much) do not really interact with dogs outside our pack. As baby puppies I might let them play with another puppy I know (like on Sunday Legend got to play with his brother for a few minutes), but beyond that, having a GSD that fits in at a dog park is like so not a priority for me.

They are very often off leash around many other dogs, at agility and flyball. Flyball can be chaos. During competition, you have 8-12 dogs at a time all running like crazy with people running and screaming, balls everywhere, and tug toys waving around. My GSDs are trained around this and focus on me and the task at hand. Same with agility, we usually have crates along but often get lazy and just put our dogs in a down while walking courses and taking turns.

Dog socialization to me is getting my dog used to the presence of other dogs and remaining neutral, completely ignoring these dogs. If I'm walking my puppy around and I see other dogs, I work on keeping his focus on me, not fixating or barking at other dogs. I do not run over and let our dogs play.

As far as going places, my dogs all go lots of places, including the dogs I have trained/am training in Schutzhund. I do a lot of other sports and the dogs also participate in community type events like visiting classrooms, representing my husband's school in summer parades, and doing "office therapy dog" where I work. I often bring a dog to work for an hour or so and again, I expect the dogs to remain neutral and pretty uninterested in everyone, unless there is a person I am talking with who asks to pet the dog. They aren't there to run around and run up to every person they find, nor are they there to be forced to tolerate mobs of people grabbing at them.

I do very intentionally expose my puppies and young dogs to a lot of sights, sounds, smells, textures, and weird experiences. This is mostly for me to gauge their reaction, make sure I have a good read on their temperament. I live and work in the city and we often have people over, or I'm traveling to dog competitions with my dogs and they are expected to be well mannered in hotels or staying at guests' homes. They come on vacation with us and I don't want to have to constantly supervise them around all my relatives.

My Schutzhund titled dog is my most well socialized dog but he is also the most aloof of my dogs. He doesn't really care what other people and dogs are doing. I've never had trouble keeping his focus on me. I like that he is safe in a huge variety of situations and I enjoy having him with me when I'm out and about.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 08:03 PM
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Also should have said, I socialize more because of the other sports we do and how we live, not because I do Schutzhund. I know people who keep their dogs in a kennel and never take them anywhere but Schutzhund training/trials and home and they are just fine dogs. I have a friend who got a dog over a year old that had not been trained or socialized anything, grew up in a kennel run, and within 2 weeks the dog was a nice house dog, good with other dogs, good with people. Good genetics mean the dog can pretty much be whatever you want it to be (or not). I take my dogs places because I enjoy it, they are companions first. I don't know that socialization really matters as far as getting results in Schutzhund.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 08:03 PM
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I agree. It depends on what you call socialization.

I take my dogs lots of places based on their temperaments. But I never expect them to "play" with other dogs. Just be around them without being stupid. We go to park concerts, vineyards dog walks. They have to be able to be around them without going crazy. That's all I ask.

I have friends that we regularly see and socialize with dogs. They become a pseudo pack. With my last make Ike, he would may a bit, chill, sleep with my friends dogs while we were out and about, but ignore strangers dogs.

My USAR dogs have to be able to be in a down stay for 5 minutes with me out if sight with 3-6 dogs all 5 feet apart. They can't harass or bug other dogs. They just have to be.

I don't want my dogs to want to play with every dog we come across. But they need to accept.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 10:09 PM
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For me "socialization" is just exposure to new things. It has nothing to do with people petting my dog, or my dog playing with other dogs. I don't allow my dogs to play with other dogs. My dogs don't really even interact with each other in the house. More because one is a real bitch in every sense of the word.

I take my dogs everywhere. Parks, stores, restaurants. Everywhere they are allowed to come with me.
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