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So I was reading another topic and a good point was made about socialization, so I thought we could discuss it more.

Does a dog with genetic good nerves and soundness need intensive socialization?

We are very conditioned to make sure our puppies get out and about, meet lots of people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. We have them go into lots of places and walk on lots of floors in the hopes that it will make them a good citizen.

But if a dog, who is genetically sound, is never exposed to all of this, will they become a scared dog?

I, personally don't think so. Let me explain. A dog, that has solid nerves and soundness will naturally be able to adapt to a brand new situation without the benefit of early socialization.

Case in point, my Ike. I don't have children. He was never around children as a puppy. In fact he never spent any time with them until he was over a year old. He never had an issue with them. I say it's because he never had a BAD experience, so he did not expect an issue.

I know that for some dogs, with less than stellar nerves and constitution, socializing can make a lot if difference. But in a genetically stable dog, will a lack of it make them unstable?

While I can't speak from personal knowledge, I would bet a lot of dog from large kennels, in and out if USA, are not taken on lots of field trips and extensively socialized, but they are great working dogs, that can adapt to new situations. If I am wrong,please correct me.

So, what so you think? Will a lack of intensive socialization ruin a genetically sound dog?


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I agree with you, a dog that is stable, balanced and confident doesn't need to be out and about to stay that way...BUT, it doesn't hurt either.

I know of a few dogs that were kennel raised to over 10 months and then placed, you'd never know there was not the intense socialization because the dogs were easily transferred to home and sportwork life.
Some though, are dog reactive/aggressive because of the kenneling/barrier frustration with the other dogs in the facility. So that can be an issue with the larger kennel operations.
 

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I was thinking about this post for a while...Don't you think you have to socialize and expose a dog to various situations to ensure he/she is a stable, balanced and confident dog? Can you automatically know if a dog stable, balanced and confident as a puppy or even while it's still part of it's litter?
 

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I agree with you, a dog that is stable, balanced and confident doesn't need to be out and about to stay that way...BUT, it doesn't hurt either.
^ This.

While I can't know exactly what the first year of life was like for Kaiser before his breeder was forced to turn him over, emaciated and filthy, to a very rural shelter, I would bet there wasn't a lot of socialization going on. Out of my three, he is my most reliable and stable in all situations with all people and animals.
 

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I was thinking about this post for a while...Don't you think you have to socialize and expose a dog to various situations to ensure he/she is a stable, balanced and confident dog? Can you automatically know if a dog stable, balanced and confident as a puppy or even while it's still part of it's litter?
Not necessarily....genetics always trump everything else. If a dog(GSD) is from good genetics....which shows with a bit of higher thresholds, biddability, pack drive, prey drive, but not over the top in anything will be fairly balanced.
I think most good breeders can tell by the 7 week evaluation which pups show the traits....and which ones may be lacking. And having a neutral party doing an eval off the familiar property would be best to help in the final assessment, not someone that knows each pups individual personality.
 

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Me personally if I had a genetically strong nerved/tempered dog I would stack the entire deck of cards in my favor by still socializing him and desensitizing him to new experiences, situations and stimulations.
 

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I agree, but I think a lot of the problem lies in HOW people socialize their puppy. A lot believe taking them to a dog park, throwing them in the mix, and having them "work it out" is the best way to socialize. Exposure to different situations and experiencing things that are age appropriate is very different than what a lot of people view as socializing.

I think even a dog with sound nerves can be greatly influenced by being thrown into environments where he feels he needs to defend himself, not feeling protected, being bombarded by out of control dogs, all these things can negatively effect a sound dog. The sound dog may be able to jump back from the trauma more easily, but it would take the right training. And obviously this same scenario would be even worse for an unbalanced, nervy, dog.

So, I agree with a PP, I don't think it would "ruin" a genetically sound dog, but the RIGHT kind of socialization) couldn't hurt either.

Another question, how can you tell at such a young age if the pup is genetically sound? Assuming you don't know the pedigree, but I have seen some "awesome" pedigreed dogs that weren't "sound."
 

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Me personally if I had a genetically strong nerved/tempered dog I would stack the entire deck of cards in my favor by still socializing him and desensitizing him to new experiences, situations and stimulations.
I agree with this. But sometimes things get forgotten or are not accessible as a puppy to expose to. So yes, stack the deck in our favor. But I truly think a BAD experience can make an otherwise sound dog, fearful/aggressive/shy. Whereas, lack of bad experiences won't do that.

Kind of a catch 22. It can help, I am not arguing that. But can a bad experience derail a good dog?


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I don't care for the term socialization. To me it's about exposure. Exposure is good for dogs, kids, adults, horses etc...

Sights, sounds, people, cars, roads, trains, water and many other scenarios.

It's not about dog parks or play dates.

I do not believe a bad experience can ruin a sound dog.
 

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I don't care for the term socialization. To me it's about exposure. Exposure is good for dogs, kids, adults, horses etc...

Sights, sounds, people, cars, roads, trains, water and many other scenarios.

It's not about dog parks or play dates.

I do not believe a bad experience can ruin a sound dog.
Jack's Dad...agree. Also don't care for the term...have actually grown to despise it. lol

Exposure, yes & yes as you described:) I just don't subscribe to play dates, dog parks...physical contact as a must with a stranger or other dog.
 

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Is it possible to socialize too much around people that the dog could possibly be "too friendly" to ward off a threat when needed?
 

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But I truly think a BAD experience can make an otherwise sound dog, fearful/aggressive/shy. Whereas, lack of bad experiences won't do that.

Kind of a catch 22. It can help, I am not arguing that. But can a bad experience derail a good dog?
I would like to think a single BAD experience won't ruin a TRULY genetically sound nerved dog.

However, I do know that many service dogs specially for the blind in the cities (ones that even guide people onto crowded subways and etc have solid nerves) are re-evaluated if they are ever attacked by another dog or have some other trama experience. So who really knows?
 

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I agree with this. But sometimes things get forgotten or are not accessible as a puppy to expose to. So yes, stack the deck in our favor. But I truly think a BAD experience can make an otherwise sound dog, fearful/aggressive/shy. Whereas, lack of bad experiences won't do that.

Kind of a catch 22. It can help, I am not arguing that. But can a bad experience derail a good dog?


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I think it depends on the experience. A young pup getting nailed by another dog and it ends with the pup needing some sort of medical attention might lend to shyness/nervousness all the way up to aggression issues, but a minor bad experience, I don't see how it could ruin a genetically sound dog.
 

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Good topic!
With Mina my byb dog I had to expose to everything under the sun. She turned out well but somethings still bother her a bit. Not enough to cause an issue but you can tell she's a bit uncomfortable.

With recon my new well bred puppy I hardly do anything. I have exposed him to many things and nothing phases him. He is so confident and out going. As for bad experiences, he got out of his ex pen and was annoying Heidi. I was in the front yard loading my truck for training. Well Heidi had enough and bit him right on his muzzle. She got him good! He has a broken tooth and a couple scars now. Did it effect him? Nope! Ten minutes later he was trying to play with her again. Tooth broke in half and all. Even playing, bit into his ball, yelped because of his tooth then bit in again. So genetics trumps all indeed. Now, I still expose to all I can because, why not? But really I don't find it necessary with the right dog. And yes, you can tell at a young age.


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Until Delgado I wouldn't have thought a dog would be stable in all situations unless they were already exposed at a young age. When I started socializing him I was honestly surprised at how easy he took everything, he came from a rural farm and when I took him into town and into the city he never flinched. He had a bad experience at his first puppy class, but the next class he was back out again and by the final class he was telling off the "bully" of the class who terrorized him the first class and had him backing down even though the bully was bigger.

Or when he was 5 months old and I took him to the Canada Day celebrations downtown in a nearby town. We spent the whole day around huge crowds with live bands and food everywhere. It ended with a huge fireworks display and he didn't bat a eye, just watched the sky for a while and then finally dozed off. You should have seen people's faces watching him! It was priceless

I've seen him startled only a few times, I just wait and very quickly he's back and investigating the very thing that got his attention. He seriously has nerves of steel and I love it as he's willing to do anything.

Genetics trumps most issues, but you can give them a good foundation with safe exposure to as many things as possible while still young.
 

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Me personally if I had a genetically strong nerved/tempered dog I would stack the entire deck of cards in my favor by still socializing him and desensitizing him to new experiences, situations and stimulations.
I agree!

:wild:
 

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But is there a difference in socialization and exposure? I believe there is. When I take my pup places I think" what's new here that he has never seen" then I expose him and move on. I am constantly thinking of things that he has never seen and how to " expose" him. But I think this differs from what the average person thinks of as "socialization"

Socializing a puppy to me does not mean letting him run nilly willy with other dogs, run up to strangers and be inundated with new things. It's controlled, it's purposeful and it's short. ONE good experience with ask many things as possible in that short window of time we are given.


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the purpose of the exposure is so that YOU can see how your dog responds - if or what he is sensitive to , then you see if the dog is resilient, DARING (a trait missing in many dogs) shows trust in handler
meet the doggies and get cookies from all and sundry is not socializing

builds bond with you and dog as partners

young pups should be pre-stressed , think of it as immunization against stress
 

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the purpose of the exposure is so that YOU can see how your dog responds - if or what he is sensitive to , then you see if the dog is resilient, DARING (a trait missing in many dogs) shows trust in handler
meet the doggies and get cookies from all and sundry is not socializing

builds bond with you and dog as partners

young pups should be pre-stressed , think of it as immunization against stress
:thumbup:
 

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I hear many MWDs are pretty sharp-aggressive. As in, do not touch unless you are the handler. Are these dogs unstable? No. but nobody bothered to work with the dogs to be more social. I'm not saying my malinois is MWD quality- I have no way of really evaluating that- but her siblings are working in that capacity and I imagine if she were "only" a working dog she'd be less friendly to strangers and a "do not pet" dog, but that doesn't mean she would be nervy or attack everything that moves.

I'm not sure I'm making sense. Basically, if I hadn't socialized my malinois her genetics would be the same, but she'd much more aloof with strangers. She'd also chase bikes, scooters, and so on. Because of early exposure, those are just things in the environment and because of attention work and her tug obsession she cares more about me than them.

As another example, I know many people who have adopted retired sled dogs who only knew their dog lot chain, or running in harness. These dogs are spooked by everything in town for at least six months (sometimes forever). They are skittish, fearful and runners. Some of it is genetics, for sure- sled dogs can be very shy- but some is certainly lack of exposure to much of anything as young dogs and even as adult dogs.

They eventually cope, usually, but it can be a long road.
 
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