Hazard's socialization progress - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-17-2011, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Hazard's socialization progress

Just thought I'd give some updates on Hazard's socialization progress in case anyone finds this place looking on advice on a similar problem!

Hazard is 6 mos old, and loves people (including kids). She's still working on appropriate behavior with the little humans cos she doesn't realize how BIG she is, and they don't always know appropriate dog behavior, but generally speaking she is fine with them. Her problem is with other dogs. We took her to the dog park and she was getting better until she was rolled and pinned. After that she has been very afraid of other dogs and rushes them when we are walking anywhere (on the leash).

So, at her basic manners class, they told me to bring her to puppy social and they would help me work with her slowly. Today was her first day and I have to say that I was very surprised (in a good way)!

The trainer took the leash and had me walk alongside of Hazard through the puppies, encouraging her and letting her know it was okay, to her own little gated area where we could wait and see if she would be less apprehensive with the 'energy' of the other puppies. She did bark a few times but also exhibited friendly behavior enough that the trainer took her out with me again, we walked around, and finally we let her off the leash.

Hazard was really good today with the sniffing and greeting, and only got snappy a few times where I had to call her away. She gets easily overwhelmed if she is in the middle of the puppy madness, but she is learning generally they come and go so it isn't such a big deal.

She was also guarding me at times, so the trainer was working with me on how to show Hazard that it's unacceptable. Hazard ventured further and further away from me and explored. One of her old dog park puppy friends came in (surprise!) and she remembered him right away and ran around and played with him. Hazard also kept 'treeing' me - the climbing on me because of nervousness - so we worked on that, too. I would say it was a bell curve: she was nervous at first, then seemed to be really good, but as the hour drew to a close she became more nervous. However, I think that it's that way with kids too due to being tired/hungry etc, and Hazard is just a baby.

It was good socialization for me, too! There was another GSD pup there and I talked to his owner at length about the GSDs he has had. He gave me a lot of hope as his older dog had similar problems with other dogs. He was impressed with how fast Hazard was growing comfortable and learning play/friendly behavior. So I think Hazard will eventually be just fine!

Today she played with the neighborhood kids when I took her outside for a walk and it's always really funny/cute to watch them play. The kids are always like "chase me Hazard chase me!" so they run around together and tire each other out. She even did some of her tricks we are working on for them. I always have treats and the kids are pretty good about commanding Hazard, even though one of the little girls pronounces her name "Pazard" it's so cute! Working on teaching her to take the treats in a nice manner so that she doesn't nip those tiny fingers accidentally. She's gotten a lot better.

Anyway just thought I'd give an update... I am so relieved a neighbor recommended this place we are going to for training/socialization. I think Hazard will do very well, and they offer a lot of advanced courses that me and my husband have our eye on!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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At Hazard's Basic Manners class yesterday, it took her a long while to settle down. She kept catching the eye of a 2y/o pit mix and she would bark her fool head off.

My husband and I feel she would do better if she were introduced to all of the dogs in the class, but the trainer (different from puppy social) doesn't feel comfortable with that yet. The dog in question has a VERY exuberant, friendly energy and for whatever reason Hazard does not like this.

We keep to our own space during the class but she is very distracted by the other dogs, so I feel like we get little accomplished. Or, I'm too busy re-focusing her attention to me that I do not get the chance to listen to the new lessons being described by the trainer. I'm finding this to be increasingly frustrating but I'm hoping that the puppy socials will pay off within a few weeks and she will be less nervous around other, unfamiliar dogs.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 09:22 PM
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I think that as classes progress, and you continue socialization OUTSIDE of class, then just being around other dogs won't be so crazy-over-the-top-exciting in the future.

Most of the time, the first few classes are a bit wild, but it calms down if you keep going. You may want to try to space yourself away from some dogs that may be too enticing, that way you can hear better.




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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-20-2011, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggieRoseLee View Post
I think that as classes progress, and you continue socialization OUTSIDE of class, then just being around other dogs won't be so crazy-over-the-top-exciting in the future.

Most of the time, the first few classes are a bit wild, but it calms down if you keep going. You may want to try to space yourself away from some dogs that may be too enticing, that way you can hear better.
I will take Hazard on walks where she might encounter other dogs (either also walking or at their houses). Right now I cross the road with her, refocus her attention, which right now is sitting because she does not keep eye contact with me long enough when there are other dogs involved. Last night I saw an improvement - the first time it happened, it took her awhile to calm down. The second time, we crossed the street, I asked her to sit, praised her when she did it and then continued walking along. She didn't bark once!

We aren't supposed to go to the dog park, so I'm having trouble finding people with dogs who are willing to work with us, even just by being a distraction at a distance. Our neighbors have a big great dane and a lab, and even though Hazard has met them umpteen times it's the same song and dance every time they're outside at the same time.

We try to take her everywhere, so she's AWESOME with people... and different situations (parades, fireworks, emergency vehicles flying by with their lights/sirens) but it's the dog thing that we really need to work on.

I'm not HOPELESS and I know this will not happen overnight... I just feel bad that I'm probably scaring the crap out of people when I'm trying to work with my not so little GSD puppy who is barking like mad at their dog. Hehe.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-24-2011, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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We brought Hazard to my parent's house for Christmas, which we knew would be interesting, cos my brother & sis-in-law brought their family dog Thor (fixed older mutt). They also have two cute little girls (3 and 6). Hazard has been to this house before and knows my family, but she hasn't stayed here with everyone else before so we knew it would probably be a challenge. We brought everyone in and just acted normal - it actually took Hazard awhile to realize there was a different dog here! Then, she started barking at him, especially when he'd come near us. Our solution was that we took both of them for a short walk before dinner, and Hazard started to play with him. Once inside she barked at him a few more times so I took them outside, off the leash, and ran around with them. I lavished attention on Thor and called him over to me and ignored Hazard when she was being bad and praised her when she was being good. After that she did a lot better when inside the house with him. We weren't worried about the people at all because she doesn't have a problem, and aside from having to explain the rules to the little girls and watching them interact, she's been great with them. She hasn't even tried to chew any of their toys! Every once in awhile she will bark at Thor, but just once or twice and she shuts up as soon as we (or anyone else) tells her "NEIN" in a stern tone. Hazard feels a lot more comfortable here and sacks out wherever she is. She loves playing with my older brother, but he got a little too rough for her and she got a little afraid so I intervened and he gave her treats and all was well again.

We knew this would be a lot for her so we have her crate and our own room if she needs to get away. We also brought her 'siblings' - our other dog and our kitten - so she feels more secure. I think that has been a really good experience for her, especially because this is what we will have to do with her a lot since we always come home for the holidays.

I am glad that she seems to get better with dogs once they meet and she realizes they aren't a threat to her (or to us). Just thought I'd post about it. Have to relish in the good and not get so stressed about the bad!
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-24-2011, 03:40 PM
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Sounds like you are having a pretty good start.

I know I always have to do the same as you with a new dog and mine. Meeting outside and going for a walk/meeting before taking them all into the house seems to really smooth things down. Plus having a separate crating area if that's needed later in the day.




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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-29-2011, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, the walking and running around outside off the leash seemed to help a lot!

The rest of the visit went by very smoothly. We brought all our animals to my husband's grandfather's where they did a Christmas day party... there were over 30 people there, including small children (and an infant). Hazard was AMAZING. I had to follow her around, of course, like a toddler, but she listened to everyone and was great with the kids. One of the little girls didn't know dog manners and had stuck her face right into Hazard's (I explained that she couldn't do that, but couldn't prevent it from happening in the first place) and I was right there with her... she didn't even blink twice. Just sniffed her and was like hey, whatever. All the other little kids kept petting her and she didn't seem fazed by it at all. She's always a little weird with strange adults, and by weird I mean not cuddly which is what people expect... but after sniffing them and being there she would wag her tail a little bit as they pet her. Most of the time she laid down and just watched what was going on. My husband's aunt called her ears "radar" cos they swiveled everywhere.

She also stayed at another house with dogs there - they had their own room, but we decided to introduce them outside. She did bark a couple of times but after I said "be nice" and they all sniffed each other, they were running around and exploring together. She stuck with our other dog, which is fine, she doesn't have to be playful/overly friendly with other dogs, but she was no longer threatened by them. She remembered the other dogs she'd met (my husband's parent's dog, and my brother's dog) so that when we were carting her around she didn't revert to being scared.

All in all, I was AMAZED by her behavior and wished she would be that calm at home! Everyone thought it was very adorable that she and our kitten play and wrestle and that the cat will have her head in Hazard's mouth and they just play like that. My aunt and uncle skyped with me from California and they were like "Wow! What a good dog! It's a good sign she can play like that with the cat without hurting her." They are BFFs on a ridiculous level.

Anyway, I'm hoping that this whirlwind experience was good for her and that she has learned (even on some small level) that not all dogs are bad. Hopefully she'll remember my "be nice" phrase that I kept using next time we encounter other dogs. :P

Even my dad was impressed with how well she was behaving for her age... and at first my parents were really stressed out when she barked at my brother's dog all the time the first day... after that she was just the cute dopey puppy that liked to play and would lay down and stay there most of the time.

The more she grows and learns, the more I am in love with this pup!
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-14-2012, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Took Hazard to a private socialization today, as at 7 months she's getting too old for the puppy group. The trainer told us she's on the verge of becoming dog aggressive, which makes us feel bad -- like we've done something wrong. She has been good, but with the holiday breaks there were no classes for a little while. Today she snapped at another GSD puppy (the trainer used their dogs, and another GDS owner's dog with his permission of course) after falsely inviting him to play with the play bow stance. It wasn't a very long session and the trainer wants us to do a few more before she puts her into the adult playgroup. Anyway I'm just feeling bad. I don't understand how we can work on it and work on it and she still goes so nuts even when she's in the car and sees a dog several yards away. I guess if I had to choose one I'd rather her be dog aggressive than people aggressive, and she is FABULOUS and a big baby with people. I suppose I'm just feeling a little hopeless. Really looking for these training sessions to pay off in the long run.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Her basic manners class yesterday went a lot better than the previous day's private socialization. There were 2 less dogs (and the pit mix that drives her nuts wasn't there) so she did a lot better. I've noticed it's definitely a bell curve with her though. We also got there earlier than everyone else to see if bringing dogs into a situation with her, rather than bringing her into a situation with other dogs already there helped. She still did bark at first, but then she settled down. She would still stare at the other dogs occasionally, but a couple of times she actually laid down when we were listening to the trainer.

She had her first agility experience with a tunnel. She seemed to love it! Taking her out the other end and walking her back to the beginning, she didn't even notice the dog that was sitting very close to her. She couldn't wait to do it again.

She did get a little worse toward the end with the barking, so we walked her around away from the other dogs to distract her, and then stood with her and let her watch the other dogs. We would wait, take a couple of steps forward, etc till we were back at our chairs. This seemed to work. She ended the class very well -- she laid down and got comfy, and even the trainer seemed impressed.

Taking her out of the place, there were dogs lined up waiting for the next class. I kept her on a short leash and I knew she was nervous but she did not bark leaving the building or immediately outside of the building.

So, I feel a little better, I know it will be a lot of work and I'm okay with that - that's why we're doing this... but sometimes it can be VERY frustrating and feel hopeless!
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-15-2012, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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Hazard has graduated her Basic Manners class, and in order to boost her confidence we are going to take her to an introductory agility course when the next spot becomes available.

We still take her to socialization every weekend - she is in the adult group as the teenager group is too rowdy for her. She is doing pretty great!

I would also say there is some improvement when I'm walking her past our neighbor's places; she doesn't bark as much at the dogs, or if she does start barking she listens to my 'leave it' command.

However, she still goes absolutely nuts while on the leash and encountering another dog, and also when she's in the car and sees a dog walking.
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