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