How should I socialize her? (long, sorry!) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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How should I socialize her? (long, sorry!)

Hi everyone! Sorry this is so long! Thanks for reading! My Ava is 10 weeks old. I'm not going to lie I have quite a bit of anxiety over how to go about properly socializing her. I've had two rescue GSDs prior, one was extremely food aggressive even at 4mo when we got her, and the other had very weak nerves at 2yrs old when we got him, he couldn't be trusted around strangers, kids or other dogs. I've made it my mission to ensure my new GSD puppy will be as well-balanced as possible, personality-wise. She is generally pretty calm, submissive so far to both my husband and I, follows us around a lot, responds well to discipline, seems fairly bold when encountering new situations such as stairs, the cat, loud noises, she wants to know whats happening but doesn't act scared or nervous or aggressive towards anything new. I am also doing lots of handling with her. Holding, messing with her ears, touching between her toes and opening her mouth, touching her while she eats and drinks etc. Aside from disliking being laid on her back, she tolerates all touching just fine. My male GSD prior you could not do ANY of this with him, he had to be muzzled for all grooming and vet appts.

I've had puppies before, I currently have a pointer that I rescued at 3mo, we did the dog park thing, brought her to all family functions and made sure she got interaction with kids. So far, aside from being wary of strange men, she does very well in almost all situations at 6 years old. Shorthairs are similar to all the other gun dog breeds, they're mostly happy-go-lucky, kinda dopey dogs who love everyone and everything. EXCEPT with birds... that's a whole other scenario and the ONLY thing my GSP takes seriously lol.

That being said, a GSD and a pointer are like apples/oranges, and after reading lots of threads on here I am finding out that most people believe proper socialization doesn't occur by subjecting the puppy to strange dogs, people and kids, but mostly teaching puppy not to react and to ignore these situations. I agree with this mostly, that is important, but I don't necessarily want my puppy to ignore stimulation, I just want her to respond positively to people, kids and other animals. I have two kids myself, little kids (4 & 2) as well as a cat and obviously another dog. I'd like to think this is good for every day socialization and for her to establish a good base. I always thought the basis of socialization was for the dog to learn and establish that other dogs/strangers/kids mean "good" so they associate these type of interactions as positive and will react positively when encountering them.

What do you all think is a good training exercise for me to implement at this age? I know lots of people are anti dog park however we go often because it's the nearest place that allows off-leash and my pointer LOVES to run and does well with other dogs, she basically ignores them and only cares about finding birds lol. Are dog parks really not ideal for dog/dog socialization? What options might be better? We do intend to do obedience training. I went through obedience with all my previous dogs so I am familiar with it and so far we have sit down pat and are working on down. Obedience is a must but I'd rather not have that be the only interaction with other dogs!

Then comes the kids, the #1 scenario that is a no-brainer, she must be 100% trustworthy with kids. My two kids both know that dogs are to be respected, we stay away from them while they eat and we do not pull their hair or tails or jump on them, but hugs are okay and petting is okay. She does great so far with them (aside from jumping on them and wanting to eat their toys, were working on that) but I want her to associate all kids = positive, and I can't always control other people's kids so I want to make sure I can trust her. Do I just take her to a park and let the kids pet her? Are there better ways to establish this? How often should we having her interact with kids?

She doesn't seem to have a lot of prey drive, I got her from my coworker who couldn't handle her (I offered to take her since he totally underestimated the time and work a puppy requires) and she's not from a quality breeder, not working lines or anything. She is interested in our cat, but keeps her distance right now. This is not so much of a concern right now, I'm mostly just concerned about strangers and other dogs. Given that she's not from a quality breeder, I want to make sure I am as proactive as possible in making sure she is as sound as possible in situations and doesn't become a dog that I have to keep away from people and other dogs. That's no life to live!

If anyone has any advice or comments, please share! Thanks for taking the time to read, hopefully you all understand my goals and can advise on if I'm doing the right thing or what you all do to help ensure your GSDs are well rounded and trustworthy in all situations! Can anyone recommend some good youtube videos as well? It's been awhile since I had to do much with training/socialization. Our pointer is a good girl aside from brushing up on her obedience here and there, we don't really do much training with her. I know people have had a lot of mixed feelings towards Cesar Milan but he was really popular when we had our male GSD and got our Pointer so I do tend to follow his general ideas and methods, I also try to assume alpha roles at all times, we do not allow dogs on the bed or couches (besides in the pic! I promise it was just for the photo op lol) and they must always sit/wait before being fed, entering or exiting, are not allowed to control situations etc. I've love to read and hear about some more recent trainers and their methods that people are recommending these days as I do feel a bit out of the loop lol.

Thanks everyone! Below is Ava, she's a sable, and our GSP Morgan
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 02:50 PM
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I have a now 16 wk old puppy (gsd) and I've had quite a few prior..Every puppy is different...With this one, he is great with people/kids, other dogs, I have chickens (not loose) he ignores them,,we have alot of wildlife around here, he's not real interested (tho I do have a fenced in yard)...I take him to a shopping center I work at, and we walk it,,he is allowed where i work, so we go in there, he's been to a couple of retail stores..I'm not going overboard with socializing, it is what it is..He doesn't seem to mind any situation I've put him into so far..I do not do 'dog parks" at all. nor dog classes that allow free for alls..Anyhow that's what I'm doing,,not overdoing it, just going with the flow..
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 03:02 PM
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I have one that is soon to be five months old. She goes everywhere with me that she can, stores, festivals, craft fairs. Just lots of exposure to new things. She just went with me on a fourteen hour drive to visit my oldest son and his family. She went to a Christmas Trail through the woods with lots of people and kids. She's in class for getting her CGC and another class I help teach in. I think it's more important for them to have positive exposure to different things than to force socializing on them. You may find a period as she's growing that you may need to keep her separate from your young children. She'll try to play with them the same way show would play with other puppies. She'll outgrow it, just be patient with her as she does.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 05:26 PM
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IMO, a dog's nerves are primarily genetic and if you want a stable dog, the place to start is with a reputable breeder with that goal in mind.

Socialization might help to a degree, but you can't get out what isn't there to begin with.

If you need equipment to maintain control of your dog, understand you’re hanging on to your dog’s body because you’ve lost his mind!

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 06:04 PM
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I kind of wish I avoided dog parks with Rollo. At nearly 11 months, he does fine in close proximity to other dogs (at obedience, etc), but we had a rough patch of leash reactivity with him where he didn't understand how to behave when on-leash, and would lunge and bark at other dogs simply because he was so accustomed to running around off-leash with them. Aside from that, the possibility of a dog attack is huge in dog parks, and GSD's (being a tad sensitive to an attack), can adopt undesirable traits from the experience.

As others have said, take Ava with you on leash everywhere. Get her adjusted to being in different environments around people, other dogs and build up a solid routine of 'you're only allowed to meet this person/dog when I say so'... Teaching her to actually ignore other dogs is probably one of the most valuable things you will learn with a GSD. Have fun with your new pup and good luck!
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 06:16 PM
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Don't bring them around other dogs or let people pet her. I'm sorry but I'm a strict believer in this. Everything this article says happened to me. One bad experience with a strange dog that I let approach my dog made her dog aggressive for life. And letting people pet my dog made her want to jump on every single person passing by. A total nightmare, read this carefully.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 06:28 PM
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My puppy is 4 months old now, and she's been going to work with me everyday at the grooming shop since she was 9 weeks old. Every puppy I've had for the last 20 years has come to work with me.

Anyway, this has given Scarlet a chance to be in an environment with other dogs, dogs that she doesn't have to interact with. Some of them bark at her from their crates when we walk by, and she completely ignores them. I take her out sometimes to see my favorite customers that "want to see my newest show puppy". She's appropriately social for a puppy.

Our shop is next door to an antique store, and Scarlet absolutely loves to prowl around over there. She's pretty fearless when it comes to noises, and surfaces, and new places.

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CARLY ......... Ch. Lauremi's No Reservations (AKC GCh pointed, HIC)
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 08:25 PM
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You can let her meet people. I want mine to be social with people, trustworthy with them. I let her choose if she wants someone to pet her. I tell her to say hello if people ask to pet her. She chooses if she wants to walk to them or not. As a younger puppy she usually chose not to and I'd just tell the people maybe another time. At almost five months now she will go over and enjoy being petted by most. She has been trained to never jump so I don't have any problems with her jumping on people. She ignores people for the most part and will sit or lie down next to me when in crowds. She has learned to go to people only if I tell her to say hello to someone.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 09:55 PM
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This. ^
Exactly how I deal with my puppy.
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~ Diane ~

CARLY ......... Ch. Lauremi's No Reservations (AKC GCh pointed, HIC)
SCARLET ..... Lauremi's Almost Wasn't (AKC pointed)
and absent friends... SAGE ~ Lauremi's Whim Z v Jakmar ~ AKC major ptd, HIC ~ 2010-2015
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 10:14 PM
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I take mine to low stress places where I know people like dogs and let them pet him as long as he is interested, calm, and not jumping. He used to pull to get to people, now he is more reserved but still craves attention. I stay away from petstores. I've run into too many unruly dogs and rude people.

I had young children with my first German Shepherds and I invited children over often. If she behaved, she got to play with them. If not, she was crated and had to watch from a distance. She learned to behave. I never invited anyone over who was rough with dogs. If the child couldn't behave well around my dogs, they weren't welcome. We never had a single problem with children, ever.
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