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Discussion Starter #1
(Yes, I spelled conundrum wrong, oops.)

Hi all, I have a 12. 5 week old female GSD who really needs to be around other dogs. Currently she is reticent around them and barks like crazy whenever she sees them. We are working with a trainer who recommends doggy day care a couple days a week to get her interacting with other dogs (a specific facility that is well regarded and supervises play as well as dividing dogs into area by size/energy/etc).

I know only one person with a dog, a friendly Golden, but is not crazy about puppy shenanigans. Neighborhood dogs we encounter on walks are either leash reactive, don't react well to her barking at them, are shy, misbehaving or some other such that has ruled out positive interaction. Dog parks are a no-no. Her barking spins up otherwise calm dogs when we walk in the park and people shy away. Sometimes the barking seems fearful/reticent, sometimes seems like she just wants to play.

It seems like I will have to choose between an early vaccination for rabies at this age, and the possible consequences of that, or a dog who will not be able to interact freely with other dogs (except for the one day we go to training) until she's four months old. Now is the formative period. Seems like I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Has anyone else had to make this choice? How did it turn out for you? Thank you.
 

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You are being steered in the wrong direction. Chances are this is a "positive only" trainer or a non breed savvy trainer?

The only thing your pup needs right now is you. And your family that lives with you. Flooding with dog "friends" (which is a modern social construct by the Fur Baby movement) is not needed. Dogs do not need "dog friends". I have no idea who ever came up with that. They need their pack, their family, you and yours.

You should expect your dog to be neutral towards other dogs, and be more focused on you. Forcing her to socialize can only create anxiety and excited which is not a positive thing (excitement can look like fun). You want her excited over you, not other dogs. Things being "other dog happy" can lead to- running out of your grip to go greet other dogs - running up to the WRONG dog

To most here being socialized means being able to be in most environments they may encounter in life without being stressed by it..with focus being on their person, handler, owner.

Personally I would not do "doggie daycare". If I needed a dog relieved and given attention on long work day I would choose in house service where someone comes, lets them out or walks them, and plays with them for 1/2 hour midday. And I'd let my dog get to know them first. This option is usually cheaper than daycare too.

Where are you located?
 

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The fact you said she is reticent around other dogs is exactly why you should not push her to play WITH them. You will create a situation! Look up engagement games and focus here on the forum. If you can get her focus on you and off things that make her reticent, you will greatly improve your chances of having a dog that is comfortable out in the world with you :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You are being steered in the wrong direction. Chances are this is a "positive only" trainer or a non breed savvy trainer?

The only thing your pup needs right now is you. And your family that lives with you. Flooding with dog "friends" (which is a modern social construct by the Fur Baby movement) is not needed. Dogs do not need "dog friends". I have no idea who ever came up with that. They need their pack, their family, you and yours.

You should expect your dog to be neutral towards other dogs, and be more focused on you. Forcing her to socialize can only create anxiety and excited which is not a positive thing (excitement can look like fun). You want her excited over you, not other dogs. Things being "other dog happy" can lead to- running out of your grip to go greet other dogs - running up to the WRONG dog

To most here being socialized means being able to be in most environments they may encounter in life without being stressed by it..with focus being on their person, handler, owner.

Personally I would not do "doggie daycare". If I needed a dog relieved and given attention on long work day I would choose in house service where someone comes, lets them out or walks them, and plays with them for 1/2 hour midday. And I'd let my dog get to know them first. This option is usually cheaper than daycare too.

Where are you located?
Thanks for the reply, and your opinion is so noted. I'm not discounting what you've said, but I'm really looking for people that have had to choose between the two, and what their experience was.
 

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For the rabies question, here in our town it is required at 4 months. 10 dogs over 48 years never had an apparent issue doing it at 4 months. A lot of dog "social" places require neutering at 6 months as a heads up...THAT does have obvious physical and mental drawbacks. In case it comes up in 2 months for you.
 

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Your dog is dog reactive and this has been made worse by doggydaycare. GSDs are supposed to ignore other people and dogs, as Cometdog said. This is how you undo it. This will take a lot of time and work.
Leerburg Q&A | I have an extremely dog reactive female German Shepherd, and I want to pursue agility with her but she goes nuts when she sees other dogs. Do you have any suggestions?

Personally I have never used treats and markers. My dog already knows the Enough and Quiet command. If I see that there is a dog park ahead or someone walking their dog and she first sees the dog, I say Inga? No. She knows barking will not be allowed and she does not bark. Then she gets praised. As the article says, you have to nip the behavior in the bud. She became dog reactive at a dog park back when I didn't know any better by the way. If I wanted a loves everybody and everything kind of a dog I would have gotten a dumb old golden retriever.
 

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You have a couple of issues here.


1. Socializing is NOT immersing your dog in whatever they are worried about. A reactive dog should have obedience, not forced to play with others. Socializing is letting them experience and watch the world while you guide them through. So, NO, I would not put a puppy who was reactive at such a young age in day care for that reason. I would, and have, worked on it differently. But that's for another thread.


2. No day care is going to allow an unvaccinated puppy into their facility. They will not risk the other dogs.


3. If your puppy catches parvo or distemper, because the last vaccination is at 16 weeks, and dies then socializing is a moot point.


So the answer is....there really isn't a choice here. You don't risk your puppy's life.



Find a safe place, with dogs you know have a good temperament and are vaccinated, AND in an environment you control. Maybe post a location on here and someone here could help you? Or call a local AKC club and see what options they have for you as far as group classes (again, they will want your puppy fully vaccinated)



In my experience, your puppy doesn't need to be immersed in other dogs. She needs to be told No. Been there, done that.


Right now, work on obedience. Teach her Sit and Look At That. That will be more of a benefit to her when you are able to go out so she understands that being a whirling dervish whenever another dog goes by is not allowed.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Your dog is dog reactive and this has been made worse by doggydaycare. GSDs are supposed to ignore other people and dogs, as Cometdog said. This is how you undo it. This will take a lot of time and work.
Leerburg Q&A | I have an extremely dog reactive female German Shepherd, and I want to pursue agility with her but she goes nuts when she sees other dogs. Do you have any suggestions?
Hi, thanks. She has not been to doggy day care, it's something we're considering.
 

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For the rabies question, here in our town it is required at 4 months. 10 dogs over 48 years never had an apparent issue doing it at 4 months. A lot of dog "social" places require neutering at 6 months as a heads up...THAT does have obvious physical and mental drawbacks. In case it comes up in 2 months for you.
Yes, thanks for that heads up, I did see there was a rule. Dogtopia has a rule that any dog over 7 months be spayed/neutered. IF (big IF) she were going there at that time I would pull her out. I don't intend to spay her until she is much older, with the blessing of my vet fortunately.
 

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Yes, thanks for that heads up, I did see there was a rule. Dogtopia has a rule that any dog over 7 months be spayed/neutered. IF (big IF) she were going there at that time I would pull her out. I don't intend to spay her until she is much older, with the blessing of my vet fortunately.
Gald you have a good vet :) I second finding good group classes once she is fully vaccinated. Free play is way over rated.
 

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I know only one person with a dog, a friendly Golden, but is not crazy about puppy shenanigans.
Most adult dogs do not seem to like puppies. It is their job to teach them, not to adore them. people need to get that out of their heads. They are not furry people who need to be loved and need to share everything. They are dogs with their own rules.

Neighborhood dogs we encounter on walks are either leash reactive, don't react well to her barking at them, are shy, misbehaving or some other such that has ruled out positive interaction.
Keep a good distance away from them so she can focus on you when you play and work with your puppy. The world is a crazy place for a new pup and you need to guide her in what is normal and what is not.

Dog parks are a no-no. Her barking spins up otherwise calm dogs when we walk in the park and people shy away. Sometimes the barking seems fearful/reticent, sometimes seems like she just wants to play.
The only good thing about a fenced dog park is the fence (to stay away far and, for your puppy, a safe distance away at the other side of it). I have used this when working with Griff to get him used to crazy dog stuff.

It seems like I will have to choose between an early vaccination for rabies at this age, and the possible consequences of that, or a dog who will not be able to interact freely with other dogs
In our county 6 month is the latest to get them vaccinated for Rabies. It has not limited my training and socialization plans with him and he has not been bitten by an infected dog, raccoon or bat.

I would relax about all of this and enjoy working and playing with your pup. Make her successful by taking it easy and keeping her at a good distance from difficult situations but in a way she can still see, while being able to work and play with you to make her succeed.
 

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Hey, i recently just got a pup too, and she is 8 weeks old. I know how you feel about the barking at the other dogs and all because that's what my puppy does too! It is a headache bc she even barks at my older shepherd. I am blessed however with my other older shepherd because he's relaxed and calm and ignores her. He doesn't really care for her but is there to teach her when she is stepping over her boundaries.

With my boy I taught him the leave it command. I used treats at first, then with his toys. After getting good at that I started incorporating the command with everything. Especially with other dogs that are barking at us on walks. He is really good now with that. I plan to do the same with my puppy.

With socializing, I knew a lot of people who had dogs. Most of them were not good influences though. But as a pup my boy was very good with other dogs. I would like to see what others will say more about barking at other dogs too. My female pup now even barks at my boy here and there(super confident, drive is building up fast).
Good luck! Hope some of it helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you all for taking an interest. Appreciate the perspectives. The trainer we're working with is focusing on engagement exercises, confidence building (dog and handler), obedience in a group training setting, etc. My girl is doing great. Trainer is GSD savvy, has his own, and I've met several of his older "students". I hope my girl grows up that well trained, especially the off leash work amazes me. One reason I was hoping for day care a couple of times a week, is my in-house sitter was mistreating my dog and was fired. The other one just stares at her phone all day (I have cams). My girl is also not getting enough exercise and I don't like being over an hour away at work; Dogtopia is right next to my office. Not my first dog, first puppor first GSD, and have had no issues in the past with doggy day care. That said, I am paying attention your suggestions and experience. Thank you, and cheers.
 

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Just to follow up; we didn't do doggy day care. Her exposure to other dogs remained via group training classes that include some free play time at the end, and visits with neighbors. The reticence resolved itself quickly, so I chalk it up to a puppy phase. She's a happy, confident pup at five months; she amazes me sometimes. Now, I'll never know if putting her in daycare would have led to a different outcome for her, but all is well that ends well. :)
 

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Just to follow up; we didn't do doggy day care. Her exposure to other dogs remained via group training classes that include some free play time at the end, and visits with neighbors. The reticence resolved itself quickly, so I chalk it up to a puppy phase. She's a happy, confident pup at five months; she amazes me sometimes. Now, I'll never know if putting her in daycare would have led to a different outcome for her, but all is well that ends well. :)
If you plan on taking vacation in the future and boarding her, putting her in daycare a couple of times a month at the facility would help a lot. She'll get to know the kennel staff and the regular dogs. It'll help keep her calm and at least in a semi-familiar environment while you're away.
 

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For me, the decision would completely hinge on the quality of the daycare. Unless I trusted the staff 100% to know what they were doing I would absolutely not send a dog to daycare. I would not send my dogs to any of the daycares around here, even my social girl.

I take my dog out downtown to the dog friendly stores and the walking strip and the advantage is most of the dogs we see are neutral and well behaved because only someone looking for trouble would take a reactive or aggressive dog into a place teeming with kids, people, bikes, other dogs. It's been great because my girl gets to observe other dogs but see they are not a big deal, either to play with or to react to. She's super social anyway, and not reactive, but I am working very hard to build attention and engagement as it pays off 100X as the pup matures.

Key is attention and neutrality. I can't tell you how critical it is to build that when the pup is still young and easy to train. A young pup being this reactive to other dogs, is a sign of poor nerves, which I know sounds critical or mean but isn't. I've been there. That is why it is so important to work with her now, as you can build toward neutrality as she grows up.

As for vaccinations- rabies is required here by 16 weeks. I follow the law.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
. . .

Key is attention and neutrality. I can't tell you how critical it is to build that when the pup is still young and easy to train. A young pup being this reactive to other dogs, is a sign of poor nerves, which I know sounds critical or mean but isn't. I've been there. That is why it is so important to work with her now, as you can build toward neutrality as she grows up.

As for vaccinations- rabies is required here by 16 weeks. I follow the law.
I made a comment on my original post as an update (I should probably update the original). But to reiterate that, I chalk her barking at other dogs and being reticent as a puppy phase (she was 12 weeks then and is 5 months old now) because it lasted about one week. We've taken her everywhere without pushing her into anything at this point she seems to have nerves of steel. We live in a city, and she's been out on the farm and nothing seems to phase her, I'm so pleased!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If you plan on taking vacation in the future and boarding her, putting her in daycare a couple of times a month at the facility would help a lot. She'll get to know the kennel staff and the regular dogs. It'll help keep her calm and at least in a semi-familiar environment while you're away.
We went on vacation for 10 days and boarded her at a facility I know and trust. I didn't want to even go on vaca, but it was paid for a year in advance. She did great there. Whew!
 
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