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Everything I've read says it is pertinent to get a puppy socialized by 4 months old. I complied with August and I don't believe he had any negative experiences at this doggy daycare. All the dogs there are vetted and all are dog friendly. Despite all his socialization and again I never saw anything negative,he is mistrustful of dogs. I think it might have been different if I had continued the socializing,but early socialization was not a magic cure.
From the puppy's point of view: have a pack of 'dog-friendly' Labradors run up to you and you acquire PTSD for life about dogs. What we call 'dog-friendly' can very well be bully behavior. Depends on how educated the day care employees are about behavior. The fact that they admit an 8 week old doesn't show this IMO.
Pups learn dog behavior from their mother and sibs and therefor should spend ample time with them until they are at least 9 - 10 weeks old.
 

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I used to feel bad like I should be making more of an effort to get Rosko around other dogs. He was out in public with me everywhere. If he could go in he did. If not he sat in the truck. So he got plenty of people exposure. No dog exposure. We own an old toy poodle but he has been anti social Rosko's lifetime. He played with a Husky pup that a guy who works for me owns one time around 4 months of age. Then at about 6 months we went back to where I got him so my wife could meet his parents. He got to play with his brother Sam and his mother (mostly sam) for an hour or so that day. I took him to play with Sam probably 4 times total. Those two became best friends quick. Besides that until we got Athena no dogs. Then Apollo came along. At 19 months old He is totally indifferent to dogs. I remember at one time he would see a dog from my truck and whine and bark but now he could care less. Athena and Apollo have no outside of the home dog socialization they don't seem to care too much about dogs either. I try and limit their people socialization also. Occasionally someone will approach and go on how beautiful of a German Shepherd one of them are and will ask to pet. I usually let them but most people I just tell them were working on indifference to people so not the best time. So after reading some of this stuff I feel better about being stingy with my dogs.
 
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I personally don't want my dogs to play with other dogs besides same household dogs. I want my dogs to be indifferent to other dogs.

I do not go to dog parks anyways it's a ''step in poop'' place full of dogs and owners I DO NOT KNOW. My 8 month bernese mountain dog got attacks by a off leashed little dog when she was out on her very first walk. She has not been in contact with other dogs besides seeing them on a walk, she looks at them but doesn't really care.
IMO I do not know the other dogs. How they've been raised, if they are sick if they have fleas etc....
I do not go to puppy classes for 2 reasons. #1 They are 2 hours away from where I live lol and #2 I don't want to teach my dogs that it is so exciting to see other dogs. I also don't want them to learn unwanted behaviors.

Socializing a dog for me is to let the dog see that everywhere we go no matter what we see is around us is no big deal!
 

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how is your pup doing?
Loooooong story between then and now, but I ended up returning him to his breeder just recently. He was always unpredictable. One day it seemed he was trustworthy and the next day, week, month, nope! I have a fantastic breeder and she tried helping me with him but in the end we both agreed he was better off back with her, where he can be managed and better trained, than with me. It's been incredibly heartbreaking as well as exhausting as I still love and care for him and always will. I am going to check out pups from her current litter this weekend. I may well be starting this whole journey all over again. But, I have learned so much and I know it will be of value for my next dog. Live and learn, right?
 

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My cattle dog was taken to dog parks and is now extremely reactive. My gsd was never taken to a dog park and loves all dogs and is very reliable in a off leash setting with other dogs (like a open field, not a dog park) she was attacked multiple times by off leash dogs while she was on leash. Luckily she still loves dogs and recovers very quickly. Kona was never socialized with children. She loves kids. She was only socialized heavily to sounds,surfaces, environment, and other dogs from a distance. I rarely let her greet other dogs.
 

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We've been taking our dogs to off leash parks for 17 years - not to play with other dogs though, they play with us and with each other. We live in a densely populated major metropolitan area with a tiny yard. There's simply no way to adequately exercise them without taking them someplace else, and around here there are either parks where dogs are not allowed at all, parks where dogs are allowed on leash only, or open space areas where dogs are allowed off leash. There are no open fields.

Dena certainly didn't suffer from it, she didn't have a reactive bone in her body, and her social skills with other dogs were masterful. Keefer is extremely social, wants to meet every dog he sees, and gets excited around them. Is that due to going to off leash parks? Maybe, maybe not. Halo first started going when she was 15 weeks old. She strutted around like she owned the joint and learned many things at the park:

We have to sit before the ball is thrown



Water is fun, and so is climbing on rocks





Grass is interesting



She followed Keef into the water, learning to swim



This is the dog that has been racing in flyball for 5 years - off leash in a ring with 7 other high drive intense dogs, most of them barking, and dozens of people, tuning all of that out to get a tennis ball from the box and bring it to me for some tug play. This is the dog that we brought to a dock diving event, never having seen a pool or a dock before, that jumped right in with no hesitation, the very first time. Has going to off leash parks hindered her ability or enthusiasm for engaging with us? Clearly not!

For MY dogs, I think all this early exposure to being off leash around lots of other dogs and has been highly beneficial. They learn social skills, and other dogs become merely background noise, a totally routine part of their life from an early age vs a novelty. But, I have access to great open space parks where you can spread out and have lots of room to play with your dogs, and I have sound dogs. Halo has always been extremely confident, she was fearless from 10 weeks old when we got her so I wasn't concerned about overwhelming her. Puppy Keefer took his cue from Dena, and puppy Halo did the same with him.

I wouldn't take them to those small fenced dog parks where people sit around and watch their dogs play. At our parks we're basically walking along with our dogs, who are off leash, stopping to play from time to time around other people who are doing the same with their dogs. Because so many people don't have big yards or even yards at all, the vast majority of dogs we've encountered have been well behaved and well mannered because they've taken obedience classes and also go to off leash parks regularly. We've also had several GSD meets at various parks, which are great fun. What's interesting is that when we have met up with other GSD friends, is that while all the dogs are in the same area together, dogs from the same household tend to play with each other rather than with dogs owned by other people.

Whenever I hear people say dog parks are terrible, or dog parks are wonderful, my reaction is always: depends on the park, depends on the dog. Some parks wouldn't be appropriate for any dog, some dogs wouldn't be appropriate for any kind of park. But if you have solid dogs and great multi-acre off leash parks, it can be a lot of fun. I'm fortunate to have that opportunity here, although when I see other people post photos of their property with tons of space for them to train and play with their dogs I am totally envious! And I can see why people who have access to all that space wouldn't understand why people who live in the kind of place that I do take our dogs to off leash parks.
 
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Interesting dog-park.

What we have is a field about 1/4 acre for small dogs, and maybe 1/2 acre for the big dogs. A drinking fountain in the gated area between the two "fields." A trash can with doggy bags. And a picnic table in each "field."

Really, my front yard is larger.

And then you put 7 dogs running around in that little space. The rules say, no toys, no food, and of course, some don't listen..

I love living in the country. If I want to let my dogs run together, I can just let them out in the front yard together (Far Field is under construction, so that can only be accessed from the front yard now).

And I have friends with dogs, one lives on the top of a hill -- many acres, wooded, fields, stream, etc. She has 4 dogs, and if I bring one, and if other people bring theirs, we have a dog park full of GSDs. I have another friend who has a fenced yard for his dogs that looks like Cedar Point for dogs. He has two, a male and a female, and if we add in one of mine, they can have a great time. And my other dog-friends, that I bring dogs to just to socialize with their dog, is up on the lake in PA. It is not fenced, but wooded around (where the lake isn't). And I have been able to let my dogs loose there, without concern that they would visit the neighbors.
 

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Does anyone have any literature that talks about the benefits or drawbacks to letting your dog play with other dogs? I am asking because of a friend of mine that is a trainer chastised me for NOT allowing my 16 week old puppy to play with lots of other puppies, and only 2 older mature dogs.

I went to our local dog park for exposure( outside the fence) and right away i knew I would never enter that place unless I was alone or with some one I trusted. It looked like the worst playground dynamics ever.... bully dog running around literally plowing over dogs, and scared,shy dogs hiding behind their owners. One owner carried their dog to the middle of the park , where it immediately got trounced upon , and it retreated to a corner.

Anyways I wanted to know if there was actual studies or research of if its just alot of anecdotal evidence that dogs that don't play with other dogs grow up to be just fine.

Cassidy's mom, that park reminds of me of Dog Park on Fiesta Island... and I could be down with that, where there is alot of room to allow dogs to have their own comfort zone.
 

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I do not believe in the whole early socialization thing...interaction. In my early 20's got my first bullmastiff. Just moved to a city for first time. Bought into the socialize hype. That dog didnt care for other dogs from day 1. Didnt want to play with them, didnt want anything to do with other dogs. No problem unless a dog came up with bad manners. Then she would pin the other dog by the back of neck without hurting them. Let them know not to rudely invade her personal space. No real aggression just a correction. Of coarse other dog owners thought she was killing them.....
Anyway having bought into the hype I made a major effort to take her to the local dog parks several times a week.
IF IT WERE POSSIBLE TO SOCIALIZE THE MISTRUST OF OTHER DOGS OUT OF HER IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.
Finally figured out you just cant change a dogs basic nature.
Nurture dont beat nature
So for me I just dont believe dogs need to be forced to play with other dogs.
We have a friend with a good older dog who comes to our house and plays with our dogs. But they know him and enjoy him.
 

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My dog does well with new dogs, but I saw fear as a puppy and so I had her play with with quite a few dogs. However I did not socialize her enough with people and since she has kind of crappy genetics it has not turned out very good.

On the other hand my full bred GSD is a doll with people. She loves new people, was abused in her previous home and was a ranch dog so not a lot of socialization.

So it's kind of an interesting mix of genetics and environments. I think the socializing is very important to be honest. But I think it probably isn't as important in a dog with good genetics and temperament as a dog with poor genetics. I'd rather be safe than sorry. It's much harder to socialize an older dog than have them used to it from the time they are puppies. From now on I will do early socialization and continue on with it with my puppies.
 

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We have several good off leash areas here, the pictures I posted above are all from Point Isabel, which is almost 50 acres on the San Francisco Bay. It's one of the largest in the country and gets over a million visitors a year. We live about a half hour away, and used to go every weekend. There was an article about it in The Bark: Great Dog Parks: Point Isabel, CA | The Bark

I found this video online, which just happens to feature several GSDs:



 

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I went to our local dog park for exposure( outside the fence) and right away i knew I would never enter that place unless I was alone or with some one I trusted. It looked like the worst playground dynamics ever.... bully dog running around literally plowing over dogs, and scared,shy dogs hiding behind their owners. One owner carried their dog to the middle of the park , where it immediately got trounced upon , and it retreated to a corner.

Anyways I wanted to know if there was actual studies or research of if its just alot of anecdotal evidence that dogs that don't play with other dogs grow up to be just fine.
Ugh, I wouldn't ever go to a place like that either. I don't think it's necessary for dogs to play with other dogs indiscriminately, but if you have friends with nice dogs it's fun to get them together and let them romp, such as Raisedbyshepherds describes.

I do not believe in the whole early socialization thing...interaction.
So for me I just dont believe dogs need to be forced to play with other dogs.
We have a friend with a good older dog who comes to our house and plays with our dogs. But they know him and enjoy him.
Remember that socialization is about exposure, not necessarily interaction. I think most people agree with you that it's not a good idea to force dogs to play with other dogs.
 

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We have several good off leash areas here, the pictures I posted above are all from Point Isabel, which is almost 50 acres on the San Francisco Bay. It's one of the largest in the country and gets over a million visitors a year. We live about a half hour away, and used to go every weekend. There was an article about it in The Bark: Great Dog Parks: Point Isabel, CA | The Bark
Remember when that was just an open area behind the post office?
 

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That was before our time, Steve. We started going there in the Fall of 2000, with Cassidy. The cafe wasn't there and Mudpuppy's was in a portable building, but it was already a very heavily used off leash park by then.
 

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I don't know if it is good or not for puppies to play with other puppies beyond a certain age. It's fun to watch them, but I think it makes outtings to obedience classes kind of a bore. What they want to be doing is wrestling and playing and running and chasing.

Which makes Susie even more of an ogre when she takes the pup to obedience classes and makes him sit and down and walk past all these other doggies that would just love to run and play.
 

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I don't know if it is good or not for puppies to play with other puppies beyond a certain age. It's fun to watch them, but I think it makes outtings to obedience classes kind of a bore. What they want to be doing is wrestling and playing and running and chasing.

Which makes Susie even more of an ogre when she takes the pup to obedience classes and makes him sit and down and walk past all these other doggies that would just love to run and play.
In my current group class, the instructor let two of the dogs play together after the lesson. He quickly recognized his mistake the next time we met, because the dogs were not interested in working, they wanted to play. I once heard of someone described a puppy class where the pups played first and then did some structured learning. I can't imagine that working very well, unless they are working with pups with a 5 second attention span. And then really, how much is the pup learning?
 

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That was before our time, Steve. We started going there in the Fall of 2000, with Cassidy. The cafe wasn't there and Mudpuppy's was in a portable building, but it was already a very heavily used off leash park by then.
Yeah, Costco wasn't even there yet. Lol. When I'd take my dog in the truck with me, I'd stop off there to walk around and use the pay phones. No cell phone then either.
 

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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 :)
THIS! Now I have zero experience bc we are getting our puppy in 11 days and trying to figure out what her socialization will look like..But one of the first things I thought was, I don know anyone who has an adult dog that's a great example of a well trained dog. Kinda sad.
 

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THIS! Now I have zero experience bc we are getting our puppy in 11 days and trying to figure out what her socialization will look like..But one of the first things I thought was, I don know anyone who has an adult dog that's a great example of a well trained dog. Kinda sad.
it is sad, but not hopeless. When my boy was a pup my neighbors had aloof dogs who had no interest in messing with the energy of a large young pup. We had to deal with some leash frustration because my boy wanted to meet and greet. Successful passes of other dogs meant that we humans would stop and play, he and I or he and my hubby. It was a nice reward for good behavior. Over the years he learned that he could watch other dogs but not expect to visit them nose to nose. It took time and maturity to get to this point.

Once our gal dog was old enough to play together with our boy that helped with that desire to play like a dog. Both still are curious to meet other dogs but they have learned that playing with a strange dog is a very rare occurrence. There just aren't that many dogs we want to set up play dates with.
 

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THIS! Now I have zero experience bc we are getting our puppy in 11 days and trying to figure out what her socialization will look like..But one of the first things I thought was, I don know anyone who has an adult dog that's a great example of a well trained dog. Kinda sad.
I don't know anyone with a dog. That said my puppy is going to make a great adult dog who is a fantastic example of a well trained dog for my next puppy someday. :)

Yea I am hooked. :halogsd:
 
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