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Question about socializing with other dogs:

So my 5 mo. old pup doesn't really get a chance to play with other dogs much. She has seen/sniffed in passing many but doesn't really get to interact much beyond this. There are two other dogs in her puppy class but one is super shy and the other is small... so they never get any off leash play there.

I'm wondering if this is a problem? Does just being around other dogs help to keep her from developing dog aggression or does she need off leash interaction?

Sometimes when we are around another dog that she is not allowed to meet (other owners decision not mine) she will get irritated and start barking/pulling towards them. This is not her initial reaction tho... when she is allowed to meet other dogs she is normally polite for the initial greet and then tries to instigate play (sometimes a bit roughly). The barking normally happens when the other owner starts talking to me from a distance but doesn't allow their dog to come say "hi." I have started just walking off when they don't allow their dog to approach... I feel like it's a waste of time (and irritating to my pup) to stand around talking if they won't let the dogs meet.

I am considering taking her to the dog park... but I really can't decide if it's a good idea or not. I wish I knew some other people with high drive puppies that she could play with.
 

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So my 5 mo. old pup doesn't really get a chance to play with other dogs much. She has seen/sniffed in passing many but doesn't really get to interact much beyond this. There are two other dogs in her puppy class but one is super shy and the other is small... so they never get any off leash play there.
Is she passing them fine or is she going off? Sounds like she's passing them fine and doing an outstanding job. You already ARE(!!!) socializing her. What you are doing is socialization. Socializing doesn't mean to take her to the dog park to be run over by a bunch of strange dogs. It means to expose her to many different places and situations, not just having her play with other dogs.

She is way too young for the dog park. It could actually be counter productive to what you want from her.

Find one dog she is doing well with. A dog in her age and then take them to play somewhere but don't throw her into a dog park with a bunch of strange dogs. :)
 

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I agree with Mrs. K. A lot of people have this idea that socializing is taking your pup to doggie romper room where they have a free-for-all with other dogs.

To me, socializing is teaching the dog to be polite and aloof with other dogs, to be able to be calm and well-behaved around them. We get this at our weekly class, where Kopper learns to work and concentrate and focus on me, and to greet other dogs and other people politely. Sounds like your pup is getting this as well.

I am not at all a fan of dog parks for dogs of any age.
 

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Is there a dog in your puppy class that is of the same size who you can have a play date with? GSD's are very rough, so the other breed should be evenly matched. I took my pup to a play group a couple of times so he could interact with other puppies. I think he was about 3 months at the time, just safe w/ the vaccinating protocol.
This wasn't 'training' just a structured playtime with 5 other pups(all different larger breed) It helped because my pup was being raised with two adult GSD's and I didn't want him to feel bullied or try to bully others. My females showed him how to be mannerly, I let them correct him if they so chose. He was never a real pushy pup, though, and very few times did they have to correct him.
I would not do the dog park, stay with a structured playtime so your pup will not feel overwhelmed or be ovewhelming to others. Is there a GSD club in your area?

I didn't have to worry, because his genetics showed and he's never been reactive or aggressive with other dogs unless they come into his face, he may warning growl.
This is how Karlo was schooled by Onyx:
 

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Ok great... we are making a lot of progress in being aloof around passing dogs. She still is very alert when she sees another dog and pulls a little bit... but nothing I wouldn't chalk up to being a puppy. She rarely if ever barks unprovoked at another dog unless they are both standing still in the same spot without being allowed to meet. I try to get her around as many dogs as possible (neighborhood, parks, classes).

Thanks for validating my hesitations about the dog park. I really don't want to take her there... but I just moved here this summer so I don't know anyone with a dog well enough to make play dates. None of the dogs in her puppy class would be suitable candidates. I wish she had another GSD or similar breed dog to have a structured play date with... but I don't know of any.

I'll see if I can find a GSD club in Louisville.
 

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Jane, how did you find this play group? Or is this something you set up with people you already knew? I'd love to find some people with large breed puppies so she could have a structured play time.
 

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It was a doggie boutique type shop, they hold puppy playtime and obedience. I just took advantage of a couple sessions of playtime. But your pup is now 5 months so that window is closing....better to get with a GSD club. I think you should have one or two to choose from in your area. Look at SchH clubs, is that of interest to you?
 

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It would be of interest to me, but the closest club is out near cincinatti which is a 90 mile drive one way. I do plan on doing AKC obedience and tracking... just can't train the bitework aspect without a club.
 

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Question about socializing with other dogs:

So my 5 mo. old pup doesn't really get a chance to play with other dogs much. She has seen/sniffed in passing many but doesn't really get to interact much beyond this. There are two other dogs in her puppy class but one is super shy and the other is small... so they never get any off leash play there.

I'm wondering if this is a problem? Does just being around other dogs help to keep her from developing dog aggression or does she need off leash interaction?

Sometimes when we are around another dog that she is not allowed to meet (other owners decision not mine) she will get irritated and start barking/pulling towards them. This is not her initial reaction tho... when she is allowed to meet other dogs she is normally polite for the initial greet and then tries to instigate play (sometimes a bit roughly). The barking normally happens when the other owner starts talking to me from a distance but doesn't allow their dog to come say "hi." I have started just walking off when they don't allow their dog to approach... I feel like it's a waste of time (and irritating to my pup) to stand around talking if they won't let the dogs meet.

I am considering taking her to the dog park... but I really can't decide if it's a good idea or not. I wish I knew some other people with high drive puppies that she could play with.

A dog park is a good idea. I go to the dog park every single day for at least 2 hours. I have a 7 month old female german shepherd who used to be very fearful because she wasn't socialized very well when I got her. I started taking her there when she was 4 months. Some dogs might bully yours or play rough but don't freak the :censored: out like those other dog owners do at the dog park. My dog was bullied too but she learned her lesson there. Let your dog learn his lesson and know his place, by the time he gets bigger he'll be the bully (lol jk). My gsd is now VERY WELL socialized with other dogs because of the dog park. Also, I made so many friends that go there everyday like me which made it better. Just look out for your dog and know what is playing rough and fighting. Don't listen to the other people that's saying your gsd is way too young. 4 months is the perfect age to socialize your dog more. I would know all of this because I experienced it. I hope all the best for you!

*no swearing OR pseudoswearing
 

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A dog park is a good idea. I go to the dog park every single day for at least 2 hours. I have a 7 month old female german shepherd who used to be very fearful because she wasn't socialized very well when I got her. I started taking her there when she was 4 months. Some dogs might bully yours or play rough but don't freak the :censored: out like those other dog owners do at the dog park. My dog was bullied too but she learned her lesson there. Let your dog learn his lesson and know his place, by the time he gets bigger he'll be the bully (lol jk). My gsd is now VERY WELL socialized with other dogs because of the dog park. Also, I made so many friends that go there everyday like me which made it better. Just look out for your dog and know what is playing rough and fighting. Don't listen to the other people that's saying your gsd is way too young. 4 months is the perfect age to socialize your dog more. I would know all of this because I experienced it. I hope all the best for you!
Your dog is still a puppy. The dynamics may change as she matures....keep your eyes wide open. If you see it coming, you may want to re-think the dog park. Very few GSD's are good candidates for dog parks once they've matured. If yours stays that way, all will be well!
 

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Is there a dog daycare in your area that you could visit? Where I board my older dog, they also have daycare which is supervised by trainers and other dog savvy people. Its a much better alternative vs a dog park. The daycare here does a screening process to see if the dog would be good for daycare or not, and then will match up based on play styles and size. I'm sure not all dog daycares are equal, I just trust ours 1000%. But I agree, just getting your dog to pass by others without reacting and focusing on you is really fantastic. Dog parks are a recipe for disaster; you have to trust that Joe Public has a trained, well-socialized dog. If not, a fight could screw up your dog forever. Not a risk I'd ever take.
 

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well my pup is 7 mos, i do take her to the dog park early in the morning, when no other dogs are there ( we play fetch) i take her to just about everywhere. and she is reactive to dogs as well. i did take her to the regular park today and there was another large labadoodle the woman asked me could we take the dogs to the tennis court and let them play together. i told her my dog hasnt played with another dog before, so we let them run, my dog was super, very social, right play bow etc. her dog was a sweetheart, but way too much for lexie,(he was 100 lbs and lexie is 50) so after a couple of minutes she left (she was a very nice woman). i wouldnt take lexie to a dog park with lots of dogs in it, too many thing can go wrong. i really dont feel bad about this, my breeder sent a video home with me, (leerberg) or something where he goes into dog parks, he really didnt recommend it and most of the people on this forum dont either. although some people do and love it. i think its a personal choice.
 

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to the dog park
It depends what dog park. If your area was densly populated by dog owners - you would have started visiting some puppy park long time ago. So, your park could be a park with agressive boistrous older dogs who might suppress your puppy - no good in her age.The need to socialize your dog with other dogs comes naturally - they are too many in your area, you cannot avoid encounters, and you realise that you have to socialize out of situation. But your dog, doesnt need a company of many dogs, because she is a GSD. Breeds are different by their "sense of a pack". Huskies are large pack dogs, they cannot live just in one family, they need families to interact (you taking him to other dogs with their owners). There are "duals" like GSDs who live the best in pairs with owners, and"solo" like English bulldogs who hate any other dog' company inside or outside. Your doggie needs friends.One day you will meet someone with whom you will exchange telephone numbers and start walking together, then it could be one more person with his dog.
 

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well my pup is 7 mos, i do take her to the dog park early in the morning, when no other dogs are there ( we play fetch) i take her to just about everywhere. and she is reactive to
Actually what you're doing is more than reasonable. You are obviously well aware of the "clueless" and you take reasonable precautions.

I consider what your doing as "proofing." If you had a dog with reactivity "issues" you would work on that first, teach him to ignore other dogs and then go to a Dog Park for proofing. A more than reasonable approach. :)

For those that have not seen the anti Dog Park position, here you go:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3c5X8wCzc0&feature=youtu.be
Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea
 

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another old thread resurrected.
 

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I'm a big fan of my dog park. That said, I really, really don't think a puppy should be at the park. Ben started going at nine months of age when he was at least large enough so that he could roughhouse, but wouldn't get trampled.

Also, it depends on:

--the style of park. Our neighborhood park has a very strong community of regular visitors who know each other and their dogs (a Facebook page with updates all the time, a community clean up at least once per month, people know each other, etc). It's a public place, but I usually hang out with dogs/owners I know.

--your dog's training. Will he/she listen to you and desist if a fight is heating up around him? Will your dog respond to cues from you not to chase frightened dogs or curb interest in small dogs? (My dog loves other dogs, but he is also *mostly* good at "leave it" if the situation demands it.)

--are you willing to go at off-peak hours? That means no beautiful weekend afternoons and maybe save the fetch games for home. (Our dog cannot have toys at the park or he will become possessive).

--are you willing to leave if some idiot with a poorly trained dog won't take responsibility? You may be in the right, but it's better to leave and be safe than stay and let it escalate.

--are you willing to supervise your dog instead of playing with the phone, working on your laptop, or socializing with the coffee or vaping crowd?

--are you worried about unvaccinated dogs?

Even with all this, your dog might still get in a fight or be injured. I love my local park, but again, there's a strong community of people who know each other and dogs that my dog knows well. But you won't be able to be 100% certain that nothing will happen.

We have a great time 99% of the time. However, my precautions did not stop my dog from one time grabbing a six-month old Golden Retriever puppy by the shoulders and shaking the crap out of him for repeatedly stealing his ball during a fetch game. (Now our dog is not allowed ANY toys at the park). My dog has never done that before or since and thankfully didn't mark the dog--just a lot of slobber. However, that GR is _still_ afraid of my dog. So when we see this poor GR, even though my dog has been very sweet with him since then, we either go to the far end of the park or go home.

A young pup not recover emotionally from getting in a fight or being chastized by an older dog who gets frustrated by puppy antics. Or he/she could get hurt.

Any access to puppy classes or friends with age/size appropriate dogs? That seems like a better option.
 
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