How important are those socialization lists? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 09:06 AM Thread Starter
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Question How important are those socialization lists?

I want to get a sense from people as to how important it is to actually check off every item on the socialization lists (keeping in mind some of these are like 100+ long)?

We've had Hans for 3 weeks, got him at 8 weeks old. He's just a little gem of a character. He's really blossoming, growing like a weed, loves his new pack and is basically tireless. If he's not sleeping he's basically operating at mach speed. He is really brilliant and we used clicker training to teach him to sit, down, shake a paw, jump and look at us and now he's learning "take it".

He gets his second set of shots tomorrow, so we haven't taken him on walks around the neighbourhood as practically every house has a dog and a couple of the sketchier neighbours let theirs loose even though they're not trained well at all so I didn't want to risk it. But the vet says he can start going on walks and to the park about 4-5 days after his shots tomorrow. He starts puppy kindergarten in 10 days.

Rather than checking off items on the list, we've tried to adapt him to our lifestyle and expose him to things which he'll see regularly, as well as some things that he won't see regularly. This is what we've done so far:
- taken him shopping (not to pet stores), sometimes he's allowed in the store, other times one of us stays in front with him and greets other shoppers while the other person first he wasn't sure about shopping carts and the noise they make but now he's an old pro
- driven him around in the car in his crate a lot
- taken him to my parents' and my in-laws' houses quite a few times since they both have stable older dogs for him to play with and since he will stay with them when we travel
- taken him to neighbours' houses
- had puppy dates with my sister-in-law's Bichon puppy once a week, at her place or ours
- had about 30 different people visit Hans at our place, from the very young to the very old, different sizes, races, etc.
- introduced him to the neighbourhood kids - there is a school bus stop on our corner so I've taken him there in the morning so the kids can pet him and say hi
- taken him to the neighbour's house, they've got 4 boys ages 8-15 and they put him on his leash and then "walked" him around their yard and played hockey with him (they'd hit the ball, he'd run after it)
- introduced him to a couple of babies, a newborn and a 2-month old so he could get used to their scent and the sound of them fussing and crying and get used to their strollers
- introduced him to his dog walker at 10 weeks and then she started coming over at 11 weeks every day to let him into the yard and play with him

Obviously when he starts going on walks it will be easier to meet even more people, for example people with canes or in wheelchairs, etc. But are we doing ok so far or do we really need to use a list?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 09:51 AM
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This thread touches on your question. I never use a list... and really meeting people isn't what I consider as socializing, but experiencing new things, surfaces, scents, sounds, etc.
Sounds like you are doing great, always best to watch the pup for cues in behavior so you aren't overwhelming him.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 09:59 AM
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that is already a LOT for a pup that age .

the list makes good kindling -- visit

guide dog puppies aren't on this busy a schedule in their socialization.



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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 10:31 AM
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Yeah... I don't like the use of a list either, because some dogs will want to go do everything, and others just want to stay home. The purpose of socialization is to build confidence and be aware of the world around them, and to learn how to behave in public. Not make sure everything on a list is covered.

That's a lot for your puppy to have done. That can be good or it could be overwhelming. My pup Arya wants to do everything and go everywhere if she could. Absolutely loves people and new things... but several of her brothers and sisters don't want anything to do with any of it. So... if your puppy is happy and confident, by all means, continue... but make it part of your life continuing, not just trying to get everything on a list done.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 10:35 AM
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If you take him along in your life, you and Hans will be OK.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 10:47 AM
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I think adapting him to your lifestyle is the best thing, it sounds like you're doing a good job. Some of those lists get a bit overwhelming for the people and the dogs.

If you live in the country, try to make a point of taking your dog into the city for the odd walk down a busier street so he's used to the noise of traffic, but otherwise it sounds like you're doing a good job.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 01:01 PM
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I think socialization lists are good in the sense that they give a new puppy owner ideas that may not have occurred to them. But there's no need to blindly follow a list, or feel like you're behind if you haven't checked off every single thing.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-22-2014, 09:05 PM
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I think adaptation to your lifestyle is key. Just to give an example, flyball is a big part of my life now, so my puppies travel to tournaments as soon as there is one after they come home. Legend just turned 5 months old today and is at his second tournament (which actually is not that great, due to weather we passed on a few tournaments over the winter, I'd rather be competing once a month). It's important my dogs travel well on long road trips in a vehicle, they must be quiet, clean, and well-mannered in hotel stays. They have to be used to going potty on a leash with other dogs around. A flyball tournament itself sounds like complete chaos. Earlier today I had Legend out to watch some races and this guy was screaming to his team right next to us and apologized, but I said that is exactly why the puppy is out there. He needs to be used to people screaming, dogs barking and running around, whistles blowing, the constant thud or crack of the box. It was fun to watch the races through his eyes, he was actually more interested in the toys/tugs each dog was getting. One dog always gets this huge braided rope tug that is falling apart so long ropes whip everywhere and Legend wanted that so bad. He's got to be OK with leash walking in very tight quarters with lots of dogs passing on each side. You can't have personal space issues in flyball. This is all in addition to the actual training that will start when he's physically mature. For other people, it may be more important that their dog actually likes to play with other dogs off leash. For me it's important that my dogs are *OK* around other dogs but don't necessarily have to interact with them. Some people like a dog that's always on high alert but I need dogs that don't have to sound off at every bump in the night or other dogs barking in the hotel.

I do have a mental "list" that I use when I bring a dog to work, but it's more something I do for fun to gauge the dog's reaction to many weird things. We do a glass bridge over a highway, riding a glass sided elevator, stairs with various surfaces or open treads, checking out a moving stream and a pond to gauge their reaction to water and see if they might enjoy it. Stuff I can do because it's readily available to me, but not stuff I'd feel obligated to go out of my way to do.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-22-2014, 09:38 PM
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Wow, lucky puppy!

I like this version of socialization, Leerburg | Socializing Puppies, but my dog sounds quite a bit more shy than yours.

I think the most important part is that the puppy be enjoying what's going on. If he's happily engaging all he's being introduced to, or even approaching cautiously but proceeding to happy engagement, I think you're doing it right! If he's avoiding or pulling away, back off a bit until he's comfortable again. I apologize if I'm telling you something you already know! Good luck!
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