German Shepherd Dog > Over-Socialization? (58 replies)
by Ace952 on 19 March 2012 - 16:30
I have noticed in abundance that many people (including breeders) say that you must socialize your GSD a lot so he/she doesn't become fearful, nervebag, etc. You have people being told to take their dogs everywhere from your kids recitial to a ride along with a police department so they can develop strong nerves.
Have we gotten to the point of too much socializaition? People getting new dogs are told, "SOCALIZE YOUR DOG!!! SOCIALIZE THEM!!"Now with some lines of GSD's you do need to make sure they are well socialized b/c there could be a higher chance in the dogs genes for social aggression or a higher rate of suspicion. But in general terms why all of this over the top socialization?
It has started to make me wonder what is being bred if you have to socialize the dog so much? What happened to just normal activites that you do daily that help your dog? Why is it now you have to take 6 hours a week to go out of your way to socialize? Are the GSD being bred now more fragile and need this special attention?
by workingdogz on 19 March 2012 - 16:35
Don't confuse 'socializing' a puppy with
having it 'mauled' by strangers
Most workingline people will suggest
you get that puppy out to 'see the world',
nothing more. Let the puppy see different
sights & sounds, crowds etc. If you **have**
to do this with a puppy, well, then you are in
some serious trouble.
When we get a new pup, we take him along
to various places, get him out by the market
to walk around, see people, grocery carts, kids
etc. Once in awhile we may make a trip to an
airport to do the same, just expose to sights
and sounds. But if we don't get him out
'every' day, we certainly don't freak out and
think he'll turn into a spook!
It's all about just letting the puppy be a dog.
Nothing special really.
by AmbiiGSD on 19 March 2012 - 16:43
|My lad was never socialised with people or other dogs outside his family and pack, not for lack of trying I may add. He met people, he met other dogs, he just didn't give a hoot, he's only ever been interested in me. For a dog that refused to socialise, He's 110% solid with strangers and strange dogs.|
by Rass on 19 March 2012 - 17:02
|I never thought about it all the years I have owned dogs. I just take my dog with me where ever I go (that is appropriate to do so.. and most places I go are dog appropriate). |
No point in having dogs if you are just going to leave them home.
Never had a problem.
by DDRCzechFan on 19 March 2012 - 17:15
|I don't go out of my way to socialize either. I don't see the point in it, because every single time I go out somewhere, there's going to be someone, as workingdogz said, who will 'maul' my dog. I don't mind if people LOOK, or talk to them, or ask me questions about them, I'm all for my kids being breed ambasadors, but even the most docile dog might be taken aback for a minute having a rowdy little kid they don't know run up and fling their arms around them. Happend to my Pitbull once. She just gave me the "what the hell is this all about, mom?" look, and when I told her it was okay she gave the little girl a kiss, but the little girl just ran up from behind and tackled her. She didn't like it, she wasn't expecting it and frankly, I'm amazed she didn't so much as utter a growl from being attacked from behind.|
I've had other dogs who would go out of their way to greet people, and just loved people in general. Great for entertaining but I usually like my dogs to at least try to maintain composure because not every person they meet should be greeted with such enthusiasm.
I had a Czech bitch once that wasn't fearful but man was she aloof. Didn't like anyone she didn't know, and she had no problem making sure that there was a gap between mommy and the stranger. She was pretty no-nonsense but had such a hard time really allowing anyone into my life, it was hard to take her places.
I think the key is yes, socializing but don't force your dog/puppy upon anyone who happens to be standing withing a 500ft. radius because you want to socialize them. Ace hit it right on the head, if you really must do that so your dog will accept people, it makes me wonder if we are breeding dogs that require an absurd amount of socializing to make them 'safe'.
by Ace952 on 19 March 2012 - 18:12
|How you all see it has been my take on it. When I go out I let them ride along in the back when I have short errands and I know I wont be in a store long or something. I don't go out of my way so to speak but if there is an chance for them to come along then I do it. I just incorporate into my daily life.|
I do see now thought that people really push socialization more than what I think is necessary. People going out of their way and tryign to find new things and it's like "wow". If the dog is from a good stable breeding you shouldn't have to go through all that.
If the dog is fearful or weak nerved, no amount of socialization will totally fix the problem.
by joanro on 19 March 2012 - 18:54
|Ace, you are spot on. If a puppy has to to be " socialized " or exposed to everything imaginable to grow up to be a functional dog in society, then something drastic is lacking in the breeding program!! I have young dogs here that I've raised that can be as old as six or eight months the first time they go to town. They take everything in stride as a matter of normalcy, never hesitating ro investigate, and strut their stuff. Walking in amongst groups of shoppers is no big deal to them; they're just people and nothing unusual about it. These dogs have been raised by humans and none of them act as though strangers are from another planet. However , I will say that my dogs don't greet any stranger like they're a long lost friend. Strangers are not a big deal to them, they just treat them like they would a tree, just part of the land scape.|
by SharonCA on 19 March 2012 - 22:47
|For socializaton, he only needs to "see the world", that's a good phrase. I am a new owner but I like what workingdogz said. My breeder/trainer advised taking my new puppy to walk around my neighborhood and go to someplace like Walmart to just sit outside and watch the people and activity, walk him around the parking lot. She doesn't recommend letting folks pet him (satisfies the human, not the dog since he didn't work for it and I'm all about what's only good for my dog) and no other strange dogs can touch my puppy due to health risks and potential attacking dogs, he gets socialized at puppy play each Saturday after his group training at the breeder/trainer's, we do that for a year. She specifically said she no longer recommends dog parks or dog beaches, too many irresponsible people bring their dogs to look for a fight and it's too risky.|
by joanro on 20 March 2012 - 00:26
|If your puppy has to "see the world" in order to be able to cope with any new situation or new environment later in life, then there is something fundamentally wrong with that breeding program. Being able to adjust appropriately and deal with new, changing situations is the hallmark of a temperamentally sound dog. You shouldn't have to train it into them. Besides, if your out there showing your puppy "the world", when are you going to let him experience "life".|
by workingdogz on 20 March 2012 - 00:33
I certainly don't think any puppy we have raised
'had' to see the world, but because we take our
dogs everywhere with us, it makes easier to let
them chill from a young age (like sponges then).
It's not a matter of 'training' it in to them, it's a
matter of people actually living with their dogs.
I don't believe it's ideal to 'waste' a pup's youth
by keeping it 'at home' all the time.
But I also don't think I should have to 'work'
on things like stairs etc. They either figure it out,
or they don't. Stairs etc should never be an issue,
but with a puppy with less than stellar nerves,
absolutley they can be.
I do agree though, if we had a puppy/dog that
we **had** to take out and about, well, we
would find it a nice pet home that enjoys a
We get our dogs from puppies and move forward
from there, so to get a puppy and then just let it sit
at home for a few months seems pointless. They
learn house manners, how to interact with other
dogs, how to stay the hell out of the kitchen when
the wife is cooking etc.
by joanro on 20 March 2012 - 02:56
|Working dogs, I wasn't implying to nor do I let my pups "just sit at home for months". But taking them with you to hang out with you is one thing; making special effort to "show them the world" should not be necessary to have a sound dog. If you are NEVER home to share your work and life with your pup then by all means, it should be with you. Why have it if your never home? But having a pup "stay at home" if that's where your work is that can involve your dog, that's far from "wasting the pup's youth". "At home" is where my pups get to be with me while I'm working and they get an education. For example, learning to behave around and work with live stock WITH ME ALWAYS there teaching them. They are "moving forward" from the time they can walk and after, oh, say six or seven months,I might have to go all the way to town, so I'll have the youngster jump into the backseat of the truck (they learned to "load up" by driving around on the farm), and I'll take them into the store with me while I'm buying stuff. They take it all in stride, just another interesting day for them. If I spent all the time you suggest a person spend driving my pup around, going to malls, airports and where ever else you take your dogs, I wouldn't have time to get my work done. Plus, my dog would be bored of riding around looking at uninteresting things and people and not ACCOMPLISHING anything worthwhile.(not to mention wasting gas!)|
by workingdogz on 20 March 2012 - 09:19
Guess we are at a standstill. We live 'in' town.
Seems we both omitted some pertinent details too,
such as, we don't do these kinds of things
EVERY day, maybe once a week? twice?
No way would we have a puppy that NEEDED
to be taken out and about EVERY day.
We don't have a farm and farm chores to do.
So we can't take the pup out when we milk the cows
we don't have, or collect the eggs from the chickens
we don't have, or feed the horses we don't have.
Is it so wrong to get a pup out and around?
Do you really think people do it because their pups
If you lived 'in town', you would likely have a
little different outlook as well. When your neighbor
is about 8' away, manners count! Although, it
seems to only be that way when you have large
breed dogs, evidently small breeds get a free
ride in most cities
It's important for 'city people' to have well
mannered dogs, especially when those dogs
are large breeds. We certainly don't 'drag'
our puppies all over the place because they
are pissing their pants at the sight of something
new, we do it to both bond with the pup, show
him something new, and wear his ass out.
We take advantage of 'busy' environments
to do focus work etc. Ever practice a sit/down
on the moving pedway? We can only find those
in airports. Those are 'dog friendly' places.
If you feel thats unneccessary for a puppy,
so be it. Your opinion. Just as I have mine,
(when I am allowed to ).
I think you just automatically assume when people
are getting their puppies 'out in the world' that they
'have' to, thats not always the case. We like to do
some fun obedience at busy places, practice platz,
So should we just do obedience in our yard
and wait till the pup is 6-7 mos old?
Do your puppies also not see any people during this time?
or do you wait until their are 6-7 mos to do that too?
Sorry, makes no sense to me.
We have ill mannered kids in our neighborhood,
it's important that the pup learns 'manners', ie;
don't jump on little Susie or Billy and steal
their ice cream, ball, doll etc.
We have friends that come for dinners etc,
our dogs have to have manners, we don't
want to 'have' to crate them when company
is here. So the pup starts learning from day one
that it arrives here.
If one is is worried about 'socializing' to get a
dog/puppy through 'life', well, don't worry,
that will always show in the end.
You cannot build a brick house on a
foundation of loose sand.
Genetics will always trump conditioning.
By the way, not everyone reading this will
HAVE a sound solid nerve/well bred pup,
so do I think it's important for them to get
the 'average' pup out, YES! If it allows them
to make a better companion of their dog/pup,
by all means YES, socialize the hell out of
It is kind of funny though to sit back and
watch a 'working dog' person with a puppy
and a 'pet person' with theirs, it's a whole
different approach to 'socializing'.
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.
There is a tremendous difference between
socializing and 'conditoning' and I think you
are assuming most people do the latter
when out with their pups.
by joanro on 20 March 2012 - 12:45
|Hey, wds, don't get so defensive. I don't "assume" anything people do with their dogs, including you. This thread is addressing "over socialization", that is what I was commenting on. You don't have to justify what you do with your dogs to me. YOU are assuming too much and making comments that probably make you feel good but are way off base. I think you are being presumptuous ,accusing people of not raising their dogs properly, when you obviously have a problem relating to their lifestyle. You also have a habit of changing things up to support your one sided argument, such as: get pups "out in the world" , instead of "SHOW them the world". Big difference between the two. Socializing IS conditioning. As far as when in their lives my pups see people; don't get your panties in such a wad, they are not deprived. By the way, I don't have any cows anymore. Two years ago, I butchered the last one and put it in the freezer in little white packages, with my dog by my side chowing down on fresh green tripe. Chickens, yes we have them. And my young pups learn manners around them, like, not to jump on little "cluck-cluck" while she's laying the egg the pup gets to eat, shell and all when cluck-cluck gets off the nest. Yes, I love the farm life, it's like living in a Disney movie with wild turkeys walking around, deer jumping, and little bunnies running like hell to escape my GSs jaws inches from it's little back. I find the country/farm life is much more enriching for young growing dogs than sucking in exhaust fumes every day watching the people walk by. To each his own. You sound like you are in the "over socialization" camp Ace is referring to. An "average" pup should not not have to be "shown the world" to be above functional at best. If that is what you consider necessary for an "average" pup, then the GSD really is in "deep shit."(official farm terminology) I am NOT advising or advocating that anyone, new owner or old owner like yourself, raise your pups the way I raise mine. It would not work since you have asphalt and concrete for them to romp on, mine have "the good earth". Seriously, though, Ace was asking about recommendation for over socializing and I simply stated that for MY pups, that is not a prerequisite for turning out a sound, sane dog.|
by Rik on 20 March 2012 - 13:50
|I like the statement above concerning socialization vs. conditioning. There is a difference.|
A sound puppy/young dog will try and explore the world he finds himself in and I do believe in exposing them to that world.
I have spent quite a bit of time in the past hauling weak nerved dogs around with a bag of treats for strangers to give out. I choose not to do this any further and I do not fault anyone who does. But if a dog can't handle the normal occurences of everyday life, it will be evident fairly early. I have decided life is too short to spend trying to instill something the dog was not born with.
by joanro on 20 March 2012 - 14:08
|Rik, with all due respect, you are describing TRAINING. Strangers hand feeding treats to TEACH it to approach is training. You're right,socialization should be no more involved than exposure of the pup to new, NORMAL things in life. That, is exercising and conditioning the mind of a pup.(ie. Socializing).|
by Keith Grossman on 20 March 2012 - 14:34
|Perhaps people are over-stressing socialization for no other reason than to stress to new owners that it isn't acceptable to own a dog simply as yard art.|
by Gusmanda on 20 March 2012 - 15:30
|Perhaps people are over-stressing socialization for no other reason than to stress to new owners that it isn't acceptable to own a dog simply as yard art.|
I think that's it
by joanro on 20 March 2012 - 15:40
|Also, "over- stressing over- socialization" for the reason that so many pups are born with weak nerves and crappy temperaments. And so the blame can be put on the new owner for not "showing the pup the world" when complaints start rolling in.|
by Keith Grossman on 20 March 2012 - 15:48
|"'over stressing socialization' for the reason that so many dogs are born with weak nerves and crappy temperaments and so the blame can be put on the new owner for not 'showing the pup the world' when complaints start rolling in."|
So you're saying that it should be ok to just chain the dog to a tree and leave it there so long as it has good solid nerves?
by joanro on 20 March 2012 - 16:02
|Keith, where do you see anything in my post that equates to that ludicrous statement? WTF!!!|