Socialising problems - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-08-2013, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
Ravena's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Location: San Diego, CA
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Socialising problems

So I'm looking for advice on puppy socialization - our girl is 5months.

After her second set of shots (11 weeks or so) I started socializing her with dogs I knew were vaccinated and good with puppies. As she got older she's met dogs every day, often new ones, we did a preschool class with her and are enrolling in a more advanced class.

She has had 2 bad experiences, however. One, a scottie she had played with several times before who had always been sweet to her, suddenly went for her nose (no blood drawn but loud screams).
Second time several weeks later we met two dogs on a walk, when I checked with the owner he said they were fine with puppies, so I let her go forward to sniff and say hi, and one of his dachshunds went for her ear and drew blood - nothing serious. I immediately separated the dogs and drove the attacker away both times and since then have been very encouraging and even more careful about who she can play with.

But she's still very skittish around dogs - will always be hesitant and run from head to head contact for the first few minutes, no matter the breed or size. A very few dogs that she knows very well she will run up to happily.
I realize the incidents are going to have affected her socializing, but she was skittish before either incident. If a playful/rambunctious dog/puppy wants to go to her, she runs/cowers - I put myself between them, ask the other owner if they mind giving her a bit of time, and reward her for approaching.

Is this something that will improve as I keep socializing her? She's 48lb and tall enough that other owners are getting nervous when she backs up and wont be social.
She's the opposite with people - wants to greet everyone with typical puppy joy.
Any advice would be great.

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Nova - 04/19/2013

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-08-2013, 01:06 PM
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Always have your dog on a leash and hold your dog under your legs and don't let any dog come up to you if it is skittish. I would just protect her until she is more confident. You show her and any other dogs you meet you are the boss.

If you limit the problems when dogs meet then you encourage the dog to become more confident which will help her socialize.

One way to neutralize a situation is let the dogs smell some food and make them beg for it. Don't just dish it out. Get the dogs mind focused on the food and make them sit and then get rewarded. This stops them being focused on each other.

You say the scottie bit your dog on there second meeting. If you were using food then maybe the dog would be looking to you rather than biting your dog.

You can also use your own body language to tell dogs not to approach you. This is really good for males looking for your female.

My own girl didn't like to socialize and I never pushed her and now at 3 she is good with other dogs. She Knows how to deflect attention. She does live with 4 other dogs though.

I know most people aim to socialize when young but I think there is no rush. Easy easy, little by little is the way.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-08-2013, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 57
Thanks for the advice! She is always on a leash, she's way too little for a concrete recall.
She is clicker trained, so I do use treats/food with her, however most of the people in my area do not use treats for their adult dogs, and refuse if I ask to offer them to their dogs. I also don't want to cause food aggression fights with other dogs.

It was the seventh or eighth time we had met the scottie - the owner lives on our street and has 2 - Nova and the pair had played together nicely. I don't have a yard, and my area is extremely dog friendly, so it is difficult to avoid meeting dogs on walks.

My girl does love playing with other dogs, its just the three-minute period of skittishness followed by lots of play. I'll keep being patient, its good to know about your girl being slow to socialize.

Nova - 04/19/2013

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
Will Rogers
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-08-2013, 03:02 PM
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I am very new to the idea of correctly socializing our dogs, but I made the mistake of thinking that meant my pup had to meet every approaching dog and/or person and act right. Duh, I wish I'd read this article first! Leerburg | Socializing Puppies

I believe now that if my dog is showing any signs of discomfort, it's my job to protect her and keep her comfortable, even if that means making a wide berth around another dog, and keeping her attention on me. You did really well showing your dog you'd keep an attacker away from her, but I think if she's skittish around strange/approaching dogs, just don't let that happen yet. I definitely did not get this when Jedda was younger, and I'm now dealing with some fear aggression issues with her. She is very playful with the dogs in our OB class, but now I just keep moving and her focusing on me when other dogs approach. With friends' dogs, we go really slow and retreat with any sign of anxiety. I wish I could start over, but she's still awesome! Good luck!

PS, if you haven't already found Michael Ellis, check out his training videos and even the free stuff online - he is awesome!
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