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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, new to the forums and wanted to get some opinions on socializing my Catahoula.

So I got my Catahoula about a year ago from the SPCA (blah blah life story)
Anyways, had him about about 2 years, and had been training him pretty adamantly the first year, (when we got him he had already had some training) and he had very few problems. But I admittedly have been lax for many months.

Lately I've been noticing that he's been becoming more and more defensive (and he already was pretty high-strung), but only at my house and yard. I like the idea that if someone breaks in I'm going to know about it and his big bark is enough to scare someone. (pretty high break-in rate in my neighborhood.)

I don't think he would bite anyone at this point, but he is now very defensive of the yard and house (barking wildly and growling at neighbors and passers by). I fear what might happen if the gate gets left open/broken and someone gets to close. He seems espeacailly stressed over children. I feel I definatly need to nip this in the butt. He's always taken awhile to adjust to most strangers coming in the house, it's weird most people he barks at when they first arrive then he's a bit uneasy around them for awhile and I need to keep him near me but eventually he warms up. Then about 10% of people come in the door and he greats them like a long lost friend. On neutral ground he wants to play with everyone.

I've resumed daily training and my basic plan (as far as socialization) for this is to start at a local Petsmart, the one near me happens to be one of the busiest on the east coast, tons of different people, with tons of different dogs. Basically I want to take him on the weekends at the buissiest points of the day and just sit on a bench near the entrance so he can watch all the dogs and people come and go. I'd start by simply rewarding him for focusing on me when I say his name, then as he becomes more accustomed start with basic commands and so on. I feel once he's comfortable with strangers in a strange neutral place, I can transition into getting him used to strangers in a familiar place, that he feels he needs to protect.

Good idea? Adjustments?
 

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that sounds great ... the way you socialize him ... but, (just a suggestion) if someone wants to pet him (most people will ask you if they can) tell them to tell him to 'SIT' before they do ... that way it is a communication thing ...

also, if they have a park or dog park in your area .... it might be good to get him there once in awhile and practice the same thing ... so he doesn't think he only needs to do that at petsmart ....
 

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I would say its a good creative idea - it may take a while. Do you have any bars you can bring him to? Down here, the best way to socialize your dog is to bring him/her to a bar where there are tons of people and other dogs usually... but... I live in New Orleans... so it may be different where you are.

Also - is there a dog park near you?

Another great socialization idea is to put an ad on your local craigslist to see if you can put together a dog playdate with one or two other same-size/temperament dogs in the neighborhood.
 

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I'm not familiar with Catahoulas. I have never worked with one but I can speak about dogs in general. Socialization is a very difficult process at that age but we have what we have and we have to work with what we have. I think Petsmart will be too overwhelming for him in the beginning. I suggest taking him to much calmer places and slowly work up to Petsmart. At first I would go to places with very few people and dogs. I can tell you that it will be almost impossible to control him at a busy Petsmart.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Haven't got many options as far as parks or bars, PetsMart is pretty much the only dog allowed place around here. Theirs a dog park really close, that is for Fredericksburg city residents only, it's only about 5 mins away and bugger me, I'm somehow just out of the eligibility area. (Although I here It's relatively easy to just slide on in) He plays great with other dogs, about once a week he comes with me to my dads and he'll play with the neighbors Golden Retriever for hours on end, just running about and bowling each other over.

I'm still going to try Petsmart, if he seems overwhelmed I can always leave and come back on a less busy day.
 

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I would take him at as slow a time as possible at first and work your way up. Don't put the dog into a situation he can't handle. The object is have him be calm. Let him show you he's ready for busier times. He definately will be overwhelmed during busy times such as Saturday or Sunday on adoption days.

Your idea of taking him at a busy time and coming back if he is overwhelmed is opposite than the way you should be thinking. Each time he is overwhelmed makes it more difficult the next time. Start slow and work your way up.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I would take him at as slow a time as possible at first and work your way up. Don't put the dog into a situation he can't handle. The object is have him be calm. Let him show you he's ready for busier times. He definately will be overwhelmed during busy times such as Saturday or Sunday on adoption days.

Your idea of taking him at a busy time and coming back if he is overwhelmed is opposite than the way you should be thinking. Each time he is overwhelmed makes it more difficult the next time. Start slow and work your way up.
Makes sense, I guess I'll try a weekday and start out just walking around outside.
 

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Be careful around the other dogs there. I'm never worried about my dogs, it's everyone else's dogs that scare me.

We had an incident not to long ago where a dog got free at a PetsMart and rushed over, attacked and killed another dog.

You don't know what kind of training the other dogs come in with/without. Always watch your dog and the other dogs.
 
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