Socializing without object of socialization - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2009, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Socializing without object of socialization

Hey all,

Just continuing my research here before i become an owner. This popped into my head the other day so i became curious. How do you socialize a dog to something that you don't have? How can you make sure your dog becomes good with kids, if you don't have kids or no family members have kids? (Kids as in below teenagers) How do you do the same with cats if no one you know has a cat?

I would assume to some degree that its partly natural once you socialize them to people and other dogs that they will become ok with kids and cats, but at the same act different then adults, and cats act different then dogs. So whats the best way of achieving this type of training? Just taking them out to public events?


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2009, 04:00 PM
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Re: Socializing without object of socialization

don't assume because a dog likes one it will like another)

Socialization IS key, start by hanging out at schools , playgrounds with kids.

I have 5 cats, mine have always grown up with cats so they tend to be fine with MY cats,,outside a cat is definately open season tho( My cats are inside, and my yard is fenced so no incidents of strange cats getting in.

As for kids, I don't have kids, most of my dogs just naturally liked kids, I didn't tend to socialize with kids, but there were kids around, and they were fine with them..

I have a couple now, that prefer to distance themselves from small kids, it's just the way it is, and I work around it..

just some ideas

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2009, 04:19 PM
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Re: Socializing without object of socialization

thats what i have done also. i hung around playgrouds, schools etc, while they all were in the first year or so. i stood outside the school when it was letting out for the day. had lots of treats, gave them to the kids to give to the pups. that helps alot. although as Diane said there are some who aren't real good with kids or certain things just the way it is, and genetics plays a big part in that. but, all you can do is expose the pup to everything possible, seek out new places, places where there are alot of people, hang out at the vets office, dog training ctrs are more than happy to help people who need to socialize pups. anywhere and everywhere, and bring yummie treats. your gsd pup might be scared of objects like garbage cans, mail boxes, things like that. when it happens act like its no big deal, walk over to it, give treats, let him smell it etc.

Definitely a puppy class is the first step towards socializing, and a great place to get everything, because there are people, noises, other dogs etc.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2009, 04:47 PM
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Re: Socializing without object of socialization

Dogs do NOT generalize well. There's something that my trainer calls the Rule of Twenty. I've attended classes at another school and they use similar numbers...

This means that your dog has to do a command (a down stay for example) twenty times in a location... in twenty different locations... before the dog generalizes it well. Otherwise, you can have a dog that does a down stay well at home and in class but nowhere else. He doesn't realize that the term "Stay" while he's lying down means he has to lie there all of the time, even when he's at the park or at Starbucks...

Why am I telling you this? Well, it means that we have to socialize our dogs a lot more than we realize.

Your pup needs to be socialized to something (a cat perhaps) numerous times in at least twenty different locations before he generalizes the lesson (cats are ok AND don't chase cats.). Otherwise, he will probably learn "don't chase the cat at the vet's office." Not a useful lesson if your neighbor has an outside cat as well.

I don't have kids, or cats, or horses. So I'm a greedy opportunist. When I see a family with children, and the children seem to be relatively under control, I walk straight up to the parent and ask "May I borrow your children?" The parent looks surprised. I then explain that I'm teaching my puppy to adore children, but I don't have any of my own. So if her children aren't afraid of dogs and if they're not in a rush (I always like to leave the parents an easy reason to say no), would it be ok if her children simply give my puppy a little biscuit? That's all I need. Then I smile.

I think in all the years I've been doing this, I've had two or three parents say no. Most of the time, the parents offer to let me borrow their children for several days.

So I kneel down next to my puppy, so he feels like I'm right there supporting him, and I ask the children to feed him the cookies one at a time so that he doesn't try to eat them all at once (which makes them laugh). This way, he meets one child at a time. Some of the children are timid. Some walk right up and try to hug him -- which, since I'm kneeling at their level, I back them off and explain that he's not used to children yet, but they can feed him their cookie and he'll shake their hand. Meanwhile, he's learning that children are the BEST thing in the world.

With horses, if I see someone on a horse, I'll stand far back and do the same thing -- explain that I'm trying to socialize him to horses so that he's not one of those dogs that charge and bark at horses. Would it be ok if I simply approached? Again, I've never had anyone who has said no. I approach slowly, pausing while my pup is still calm and quiet, clicking and treating; then approaching, pausing , clicking and treating. This takes a few minutes, but the horseman sees that I'm completely in control of the training, so they've always been very patient. I think that every horseman has been charged by a dog at least once, so I guess they're glad to help a dog owner who is trying to do it right.

I do this with every diverse thing I can think of -- people of different races and cultures; people who wear unusual clothing or uniforms, including hats and those carrying large packages (which can freak dogs out if they're not used to it), strollers, wheelchairs, crutches... anything that is other than what he normally sees in my neighborhood from day to day. I simply park myself somewhere really obtrusive (outside a busy door), and I ask people if they would greet my dog. You can tell the people who would be inclined. They've already smiled at the adorable puppy. If they look afraid or busy, then I don't bother them. But you'd be surprised how many people are willing to help out and simply hand your puppy a treat.

I try to take my puppies to as many places as possible. BUT keep this in mind -- socialization doesn't mean simply taking your puppy out. It means giving your puppy as many diverse POSITIVE experiences as possible. So if you take your pup out and he has a terrifying experience, that's not socialization.

Therefore, we need to take our pups out when we can devote 100% (or at least 98%) of our attention to them and what they're experiencing. If you're going out shopping to the busy farmer's market and you have a lot to purchase -- with a lot of transactions, a lot of stuff to carry, and a lot of other dogs to deal with-- that may not be the best time to take your pup out. Better to take him to sit outside the library or outside a Starbucks when you have nothing else to do but make sure he has a good experience.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-08-2009, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Socializing without object of socialization

Thanks for all the replies. Makes a lot of sense.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-08-2009, 08:11 AM
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Re: Socializing without object of socialization

Since from day one with my puppies, I pack them in the car and get out to socialize, all your questions are GREAT but easy to fix with trips!

Just go out to visit family, friends and the great big world and you'll be falling all over every experience you want!

How about a dog fair! That's my Glory B at just 15 weeks.


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