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take note of the word "popular"

How many dogs have been damaged by early socialization .
If the forum is a fair , random, sampling , I would say quite a few.

so let that be the opening salvo to open the discussion .
 

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The only dogs I had issues with were the ones I did "random puppy playtime" with. I don't think they learned "proper" dog behavior from that experience.

I was careful with the current dog to only let him interact with stable adult dogs after he left the litter, and now he is fine, even with other dogs acting snarky around him.
 

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I really thought I did a disservice to my second litter. I had surgery and was not able to get them out. I really dont think that weighed as much as I had originally thought. VERY sensitive is an understatement. I think that had more to do with it. My singleton I just had last summer I made sure to get out everywhere. Very easy to do with just one. But I also think his breeding had a lot to do with his even temperament. Very social, not easily phased, biddable, total clown.
 

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Just gonna comment on my 2 current dogs because they are the 1st puppies I have raised in years.

If we are talking in terms of early socialization as just "exposure to" (sights sounds etc...), then I consider it successful. Nothing really phases them but I am still careful with them. We have a community of minunites (sp?) who use their horse and cart to come to town when they need to shop. The first time the boys saw one, and it was physically close, I'd say about 10ft from us, they were curious but nonreactive. I think this is because I have always taken them with me places and they have seen so many things.

If we are talking about socializing with other dogs, I haven't done that. Everyone I know with dogs, doesn't have a dog I would want my dog to grow up to be like :)
 

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I think forced socialization becomes the problem. When the handler becomes so obsessed with their puppy being buddies with all other canines. I think that puts too much stress on the puppy as well as the handler. Stress = breakdowns in social patterns.
 

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When I look at my current 2 - they were both taken along to the local dog park at around 16 weeks for socialisation. With Lola on her first outing, I misjudged a dog and he went for her, I have never forgiven myself for that and was careful with her from then on, however there were 2 other occasions where she was really frightened. Her easy going, fantastic nature has prevailed, however her attacks were from large breed dogs and to this day she is not very comfortable around larger dogs - little dogs she loves. Harry didn't have any issues with other dogs, however imo he grew a little too sure or himself and dominant, almost like a bully too young.

My next GSDs, will I take them to the dog park? NO, I don't think I will, as someone else said, I will only allow them around really stable older dogs.

I have seen many a puppy come into a dog park and attacked. When I think about these situations, both owners (puppy owner and dog attacking owner) were at fault. The puppy owners are nervous and this impacts on the puppy and the attacking dog picked up on the puppies instability through nervousness.

My previous GSDs were not taken to dog parks and I don't recall any instability with them.
 

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Yes, indeed. I have fully hopped on board the anti-puppy playtime wagon. With my next pup, or if I have a litter, the pups will socialize with their "pack" and stable adult dogs only. I'd vastly prefer my dogs ignore other dogs than get excited about them. It is very annoying to have a dog that blows you off when another dog is around- for whatever reason- reactivity-defense or playfulness. I think the best way to raise a pup is to expose him/her to other dogs but not interact with them. That way, strange dogs just become background noise. If I was raising a pup with no other dogs in the household, I'd seek out stable adults to interact with- preferably of the shepherd variety. But I'd avoid puppy playtime unless it was one on one with a pup and owner I knew well and who had similar views on puppy raising.

Since we do see off leash dogs every day, my gold standard is to have an adult dog that is OK with a brief "hello" from another dog (less than five seconds), then ignores the dog and moves on. I've found this to be a reasonable expectation and one that works well in the dog social world as well.
 

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As far as experiences. We pretty much went anywhere and everywhere. Except for doggy places.
 

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When I got first got my puppy, I fully intended on socializing him as much as possible, because I thought that was the right thing to do. In puppy school, he was the quiet one. He didn't leave my side and wouldn't play with the other dogs during the designated socialisation time. The trainer told us to pick him up and put him in the middle and he'd just walk right back to me. He did watch them very curiously though and would wag his tail when he saw them playing with each other. It seemed he was just unsure of himself.

At the beach he would walk flush up against my leg, never leaving my side (no leash) and even tucking in his tail when little dogs barked at him. These behaviours made me think I had a timid puppy who would eventually grow up to become fearful dog. Despite everything online saying socialise socialise socialise, I decided to give him a break and build his confidence at home while limiting the chance of anything traumatising happening to him in the outside world. Now at 16 months he's bursting with confidence! He loves every dog and person he meets and if the dog is snappy he just moves along like nothing happened. I saw the shift from around 6 months on, and couldn't be happier with him. He was clearly out of his comfort zone when he was in these situations as a puppy, and I'm glad I didn't push him too much.

We did start go to a training club when he was around 5 months old, which I figured should be fine since it's a controlled situation. There are a few different trainers there who have met him on separate occasions and all of them have commented on his great disposition.

We played a lot of tug (letting him win almost always), lots of positive reinforcement, and limited exposure to potentially nasty situations. Not as much socialisation as I intended, but I'm so happy with the outcome
 

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Sookie's first six months (after being saved from the streets where kids were stoning her - they killed a couple of her siblings) were at a rescue whe she lived in a huge pen with 4-5 other pups. She interacted/played with the other 200 or so dogs there, as well as cats, kittens, and the family who runs the rescue. Basically running wild and free on a "dalmation plantation" set-up :)

She loves other dogs and playing with them, but she only really gets to play at doggie daycare; when we are walking and other dogs approach she is interested but not insane about them. She isn't scared of dogs or anything; she is very intense and energetic but nothing startles her. I don't know if that's from her early days or what but you can vacuum around her and close gunshots don't faze her. But maybe she wouldn't have had any nervousness or sensitivity regardless of her early "mega-socialisation." It's nice though - you can really park the running vacuum next to her and she doesn't care :)
 

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To be part of the random sample:

GSD - no forced socialization. Trained along the path of to ignore outside distractions to include dogs on or off leash. The result being a dog who is non reactive towards strange dogs, has no need to be friends with other dogs besides the ones at home.

Lacy - forced socialization (during Lacy events). Was a happy social butterfly until attacked by another male. I knew this specific male could be aggressive towards other males so I tucked my male (who was on a leash) under my chair before either dog noticed eachother. The male walked past me and attempted to dart under my chair, their owner raised their voice and began trying to pull their dog out, I was kicking my legs and striking the dog and the owner. My dog lost his mind. Now I have a reactive dog to males.
 

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The one thing I don't agree with is the window people say there is for socialization. Robyn was 12 wks when I got her according to some the window was closed or almost closed. She turned out very well. She had play dates with a couple dogs we knew. Other then that she went everywhere with me. Midnite was much older and had no training or socialization at all, by all means his window for socialization was way over. I still took him places, but he had no play time with other dogs until I brought home the golden puppy and the foster dog , which he did fine with. Both are very well rounded.
 

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We went against our vet's wishes and took our dog out early, to safe places. One place is a park that's two blocks away from our house, where we met a family with a Husky that wanted early socialization too, he was one month younger than Molly. They quickly became best friends and are still good friends. Molly thinks the park is her park. She wants to go there every night to sit and be a watch dog. The early exposure to the park really made an impression on her, probably because she has mostly good experiences there. I really don't think any of our early socialization did any harm. We watched her body language and clues to when she was done with a situation and wanted to go home. Molly is a very social dog, its her personality and responses to early socialization probably differ between dogs.

Personally, I think it does not matter - socialization or not as long as you have good obedience because when the adolescent stage sets in, at least for us, everything changed. So glad we had some basic obedience foundation. The early socialization at that point did not matter.

What is probably more important than socialization is being consistent and reliable for your pup. Our previous GSD mix was a rescue, we got her when she was about 3-4months old and had already been to 3 foster homes. She ended up being a great dog, never needed a leash, but there seemed to be an underlying fear or insecurity issue I really cannot put into words at this time.
 

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Foreced Socialization

My belief is that we set our puppy GSD (now 14 months) back a lot by taking him around other dogs when he was a "baby". It scared the devil out of him and they keyed on that fright immediately.

We're still working on his confidence and trying to keep the fear aggression at a minimum towards dogs.

LF
 

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I honestly believe that genetics are what they are. Socialization is great, but a dog that can't handle it is going to be a handful down the road...and a dog with good nerves that hasn't been socialized all that much is going to be good to go in most situations.
Isolation or pushing the dog that is fearful are the extremes. My post is about the normal day to day things, letting a pup explore and get out and about in the real world.
 

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The one thing I don't agree with is the window people say there is for socialization. Robyn was 12 wks when I got her according to some the window was closed or almost closed. She turned out very well. She had play dates with a couple dogs we knew. Other then that she went everywhere with me. Midnite was much older and had no training or socialization at all, by all means his window for socialization was way over. I still took him places, but he had no play time with other dogs until I brought home the golden puppy and the foster dog , which he did fine with. Both are very well rounded.
There is a window where socialization gets potentially harder. Never means its impossible. The window is closer to 4 months or so but dogs remain fairly pliable in that regard until they hit 2 or so and then it gets much much harder. These are generalities they are not laws of behavior though.
 

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take note of the word "popular"

How many dogs have been damaged by early socialization .
If the forum is a fair , random, sampling , I would say quite a few.

so let that be the opening salvo to open the discussion .
With socialization, do you mean with dogs? If so: I only let him hang out with stable adult dogs that will teach him. He has gotten a good dose at his breeder already. When WD was about 7 months old, he was still being corrected by adults when he met them too rough, but he was very gentle with young pups. I don't think that he would have been that way if he had been allowed to hang out with pups his age when he was younger than 7 months.
I do take them into the world and expose them to everything possible two times a day for short sessions. Further, people visit the house and play and work at home. For that reason I skip puppy class and go straight to the basic class.
 

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It's interesting to note that a lot of dogs (herding breeds especially) seem to notice when we're trying too hard at socializing/trying to build a positive reinforcement. And MANY of them with anything less than stellar nerves, get weird about it. This, IME, can CAUSE fear and issues in them.

I tried really hard to make my Border Collie puppy like gunfire because Frag is gun shy. It backfired on me.

I have a friend who adopted a fearful BC/ACD mix.... VERY fearful of men all his life. She tried so hard for the longest time to treat him and make men happy places. He wanted nothing to do with it and remained fearful/possibly got worse. I talked to her about this issue, so she stopped acting like men were awesome/drawing attention to them. In the last week he has approached, on his own, over 4 men... of huge sizes/weird facial hair in some cases, and even crawled into a few laps. UNHEARD OF.

It's like they wouldn't notice the odd thing unless you had brought light to it, and then they get skeptical. "Why do I care about that? This is freaking me out, mom's making a big deal about this, maybe I should be concerned!" and the cycle continues.

Something to keep in mind.
 

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Had a gsd puppy come in for two weeks board and train. She was a fearful mess when she first came in at 14 weeks old or so. Fear drooling growling at people and peeing as soon as anybody touched her. I really wish I had taken video of the before and after because she was practically paralyzed with fear of both the people that worked there and the other dogs.

We put her in the yard with 10 other dogs of various ages some puppies some adults. Then put the others in lock down. They were not allowed to investigate her or play with each other. They were to calmly "just be." It gave her the opportunity to realize everything was under control and nobody was trying to hurt her. She started investigating slowly at first. Some would consider this flooding, but she was a baby and has no excuse to not be a dog.

By day three she was playing with the other dogs and enjoying her time in the yard. Her drivey nature was revealed. She was a fiend for kibble and we used it to reward her during environmental desensitization. Spooky loud sudden noises announced food.

We started approaching her with stupid energy toned down at first and towards the end like people who have no idea how to approach a dog. Screaming her name squared up at her and charging. Soon as we got near we marked and rewarded her holding her ground bravely. She was conditioned to like it.

By the end she was confident with other dogs and people. She could chase and be chased by adult dogs even as many as 3 at once without fear. She played rough and gave as good as she got. Came out of it a different puppy. Took 2 weeks.

Exposure socialization isn't good enough. At the best your dog makes neutral associations at worst it becomes fearful. You have to take steps to manipulate the experience and ensure it turns out positive. Some dogs won't need it. With gsds many will.
 
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