Leerburg Socialization Protocol.... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-15-2016, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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Isen87's Avatar
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Question Leerburg Socialization Protocol....

I am preparing myself and doing lots of research on proper socialization techniques for the new puppy I will be getting in October. I currently have two GSDs and they are great. My boy has light reactivity to dogs due to being attacked at a young age. He is fine when introduced slowly. I want to prevent anything like that happening again. I now carry bear mace and am more weary of off leash dogs. He was being trained to become my service dog. Which he is, in my home. He has saved my life several times. (I suffer from absent seizures and falls) But I can't trust him in public. So I began my search for a new candidate. This took years to do.

So now that it is months away I am looking at all sorts of techniques. I like the positive approach and the engagement games Leerburg talks about. But I am getting mixed reviews from trainers and from other GSD owners that the engagement and ignore all other people, places and things is not fool proof. I understand I will not always be able to control my environment. I also have the full intent of becoming his/her pack leader but I have my suspicions. My last dog trainer wants me to enroll him/her in the puppy socialization group he has. I am just afraid that one of those encounters will scar the puppy like my boy. So Leerburg's socialization appealed to me so much. What I really want to know is if anyone with a GSD has done this way of socialization and it worked to create a stable well rounded pup? I know the lines I am getting this puppy from are great with amazing stable temperaments and good nerves. If anyone could help me with this endeavor with any advice I would be very grateful.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-15-2016, 08:01 AM
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We haven't been strict about using the Leerburg ideal but I have to admit, there are good reasons to do so. Especially if your youngster is going to go out with you as your SD. He needs to see people as nothing exciting, other dogs as well. They need ts quietly accept attention IF you allow it. Your dog needs to be exposed to all kinds of people so he can see what is normal behavior. Exposure to other dogs, well you have your own pack at home to take care of that.

Good luck and don't let all that research make your head swim. We all know that each dog is different so tweak all advice that works for your home and toss away the rest. And when you get your new charge, pictures (grin)

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 06:49 PM
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I know this post is older so I hope I'm not breaking any rules by responding late!
I've trained several dogs for stagework, obedience, etc. but Ellie is the second service dog I am raising (I'm owner-training, too!) and even with my lab I let people be fun and exciting until the critical period was over. All of my SD community friends who have raised German Shepherds have been VERY adamant about making positive experiences with people for their puppies. I think that once they reach about 16 weeks and have had positive experiences with every type of person under the sun, then start enforcing "no attention from anyone but me". They sell harnesses, vests, leashes and bandanas that say "in training, don't distract" for this! I'd recommend using something other than a vest for early training since the vest will be a "Service Mode: ON" switch eventually.
If you live in a state that grants you public access and you decide to do some early PA, I would not allow any interaction with humans in public or with a vest on even before 16 weeks (whether or not puppies should do PA this early is an entirely separate convo). At parks and whatnot, free game for pets! I always keep my puppy close to me and if someone approaches to say hello, I give them instructions before they can come near the puppy: do not make eye contact or pay any attention until they are in a quiet sit, give a treat, stop any attention if jumping happens. Your dog is going to come in contact with humans later in life when out of vest, and this will make perfect practice for when they are in that situation!
Once they are past that critical/imprint period and their cortisol levels even out, they start to learn that you are the only one they can pay attention to but remember that all of those people walking around them aren't scary!

Everyone likes different training styles though! That's just my two cents. The idea I've gotten from most trainers and vets is that German Shepherds have been bred to herd and protect, so it is extremely important to socialize them well during early puppyhood. A traumatic experience during this time can ruin a dog as naturally sensitive as the GSD. GSDs are also bred for intelligence, so your puppy WILL pick up on giving all of his attention to you and ignoring others. They have to know that other people aren't scary first though.
Hope this helps! Please update me on your progress and feel free to PM me! I'm always learning from other owner-trainers as well so I would love to make a new OT friend!

EDIT: Puppy class is AWESOME!! It's like continuing education for bite inhibition and proper play skills which is absolutely essential. This will also help them have good experiences with puppies of all colors, sizes and volumes...lol. It is extremely rare that puppies fight, so I wouldn't worry about that! If you're with a good trainer, I would even continue with group classes into adulthood. They're great practice for what you're afraid of - that wariness of other dogs, humans, etc. A good trainer will ensure that everyone in the class is well behaved and has no aggression issues.

"Be the person your dog thinks you are."
Ellie - GSD Service Dog in Training

Last edited by Katie Chambers; 08-01-2016 at 06:54 PM.
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