How to continue to socialize when older (7 months+) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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How to continue to socialize when older (7 months+)

My pup is currently 7 months so is getting to be pretty big. Yesterday, we took her to Petco to walk around a little and I realized that while some people really took a liking to her (mostly the staff), there were also people who were a little scared to be around her.

Any suggestions to get her out there more? We will take her downtown to walk around and see things, but people almost never will come up and pet her.

Also, it doesn't help, but while she is fine with adults, she barks at kids/teens. I can't quite understand this since there are many occasions that she will go up to them and play...other times, she will just stand off at a distance and bark at them (similar to how she might bark at the vacuum cleaner when it's on and moving).
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 11:21 AM
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Bring tons of treats in a baggie and 'use' all the willing strangers you see to give her a treat!

You have to have her hungry and use REAL treats. So hotdogs, cheese, chicken, liver... real stinky and yummy stuff. Not dry dog treats....




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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 12:15 PM
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And no big deal if you don't have hordes of people flocking to pet your dog. A few good experiences will go a long way. Socializing is as much about taking your dog out and be around people and exposed to new places as much as it is positive interactions.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Castlemaid View Post
And no big deal if you don't have hordes of people flocking to pet your dog. A few good experiences will go a long way. Socializing is as much about taking your dog out and be around people and exposed to new places as much as it is positive interactions.
What SHE ^^^ said.
Your dog barking at kids sounds like fear. Try to increase the occasions where she can see them at a safe distance. Kids can be fearsome because they move so fast and are noisy. My dog has no problem with kids (at 2) but she was a little shy of them at your dog's age. She allowed approaching and petting but she didn't like it. I have been taking her to a park with a kid's playground, sitting on a bench and watching and listening to them running around and screaming. It has totally desensitized her to them. They now come running up to pet the doggie and she is fine with that.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 01:00 PM
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I agree. Go up to people and ask them to help you out. Give them treats to give to your dog. Best to go up to single people first, vs. a small group of people. Once she is used to individuals move up to a few people and move to teens and kids.

When I give a treat to a kid to give to my dog I always tell them to keep their hand open when offering a treat, like you would with a horse, and I tell my dog to be gentle, which she is. You don't want the dog to take the treat too fast that the kid pulls their hand away and that excites the dog more. I find that kids like to crowd around and they compete with each other for the dogs attention. This would overwhelm your dog right now so take it very slow with calm children.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 02:14 PM
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I think this is very normal. Our puppy is still young, a little over four months, but people usually do not pet her. Typically, we might have one or two people come over in the course of an hour or two pet her. I wouldn't worry too much about not having tons of people come over. As long as some people are approaching to pet...I would say that you are doing good.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 02:49 PM
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Since there are several members of our Schutzhund dog with young dogs, we sometimes get together for doggy-socialization walks downtown. Gryff is 2 1/2 year old, but come along because I need the socialization to people and to busy places . I live in the boonies so these walks are good for Gryff. Plus it helps the younger dogs to learn to walk nicely in a pack, paying attention to their owners, and Gryff is a nice, calming, confident presence for the younger dogs (though they are all showing bomb-proof temperament so far).

Gryff is oversized - close to 28 inches tall - there are three young dogs in the group that come from the same breeder and they are all on the small side - about 22 - 23 inches and about 60 lbs. Even though we walk in a group, and all the dogs are calm and well behaved, if people are going to stop and ask to pet the dogs, 90% of the time they walk right by me and talk to the owners of the smaller dogs - I think it is a natural thing and I don't take offense. Not everyone is comfortable around big dogs, I need to respect other people's level of comfort.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks much for the responses. We'll continue to bring her out, it's just not always easy to have people come up to pet her.

For the first time yesterday, I actually felt a little discouraged since it was the first time people actually showed fear toward her. I wondered if I should have done this even more when she was smaller and people might be more inclined to come up to her. We're just trying to make sure she'll turn out as a good GSD adult in the future.

There was a dad with his 2 young kids (maybe 4 and 7?) and the boy said "that's the kind of dog I want", so I let my pup go in a little and say hello (she just sniffed at them a bit) but immediately the dad shielded them (this was at Petco mind you) and told the boy that he didn't like German Shepherds...got me a bit upset at first...but perhaps he got bit at some point in his life.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 03:35 PM
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It's really not necessary that people come up and pet her. In fact, if she's not eager to meet new people (like the barking at kids and teenagers), it's probably better if they don't. Just having her out in public being exposed to new people/places/things is still socialization, she doesn't need to actually interact with them to get some benefit from the experience. And by not putting pressure on her to interact when she's clearly not comfortable doing so, you're keeping it a positive experience, which is so important.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2011, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggieRoseLee View Post
Bring tons of treats in a baggie and 'use' all the willing strangers you see to give her a treat!

You have to have her hungry and use REAL treats. So hotdogs, cheese, chicken, liver... real stinky and yummy stuff. Not dry dog treats....
And if you can't get people to come over and give treats to her or she's not totally relaxed and happy (in which case it's best that they don't, as I said above), then YOU can give treats to her. That way, you're creating a positive association with the sight of new people by pairing it with yummy treats. That's called counter-conditioning, and it can go a long way towards making her be happy about being around and meeting strangers. The less intimidating she looks the more likely people will be to want to come meet her, so it's a win/win situation.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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