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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is not an earth shaking problem and probably one I'm lucky to have but sometimes I wonder. I have a 6 month old Australian Shepard(got her at 8 weeks)that I have been socializing with people. I live in a rural area with only a few nearby neighbors so I take her half an hour by car two or three times a week to interact with people. Outside the local YMCA has proved to be the best site with people of all ages, sexes, colors, types, sizes--you name it. She is beside herself with excitement when someone walks by and has no hesitation in approaching anyone(today, a bearded young man in shorts covered in tattoos). She's a beautiful dog and get lots of attention which she loves, tummy rubs being her favorite. I keep a foot on her leash to keep her from jumping up. At 6 months I wonder if I need to continue this or focus more attention on other aspects of her development, like loose leash walking, which she is terrible at.

Thank you for any thoughts.
 

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You surely are a responsible owner, paying so much attention on your dog socializing with other people, and you seem to be doing well, since your dog is very good with them.
Like you said, try some other aspects, such as socializing with other animals, if possible. The sooner you do it the better. Loose leash walking, you mentioned, there's another task for you two! Try learning your dog some tricks, if you haven't yet! There are really many activities you can both enjoy!
 

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I would do a mix of things--

It would be great to keep up new places and new people till a year old at least because some dogs have a fear period as "teenagers"

I would work on reducing the need to stand on the leash to prevent jumping within first situations and people she is familar with and then with new people.

Take a walk before a trip to the city and practice loose leash in a low distraction area. Build on this so eventually you are working on loose leash in a busy area.

Socializing and training never really ends exactly, it just shifts focus and needs.

You are making a great start and it will pay off over time
 

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The prime socialization window is over, so I don't think you need to make a huge deal out of it. You should certainly continue taking her new places, but I think now is the time to begin teaching her that focusing on you in new, exciting places is the most rewarding. It can be as simple as asking her to sit and wait patiently for someone to pet her, or having to walk nicely beside you before being allowed to greet a person. Since she is an Aussie, I imagine she will begin to become less interested in strangers as she approaches or passes that one year mark, as well.

You might also try taking her to obedience classes, if you have any in your area. This is an excellent opportunity to build your relationship with your dog and teach her that she should focus on you with new dogs and people around. Even if you don't need to work on the commands, per se, working in that environment is like an entirely different skill set.
 

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All the above advice is good. We live in a similar situation, rural island outside a small town. I guess the best pieces of advise I can give is to keep up the exposure, but maybe start backing off of letting your dog interact with all the strangers y'all meet. Like, let the dog interact randomly and not as often as normal. Just so he learns that every person yall come across isnt someone to go nuts over. It'll help with the focusing on you and yalls engagement if he learns not to expect interaction with every person that walks by. Also once he has his commands down pat in your home or property or whatever, start working those same commands out in these public places. If you dont do enough of that he'll listen well at home but might not out in public. I take my current dog to a park with a playground pretty often and just sit on a bench with Beau in a down stay at my feet, just watching all the people. Kids running and throwing balls, screaming all that stuff. Boat landings are good places to go sit too. Your dog is not my dog, but at least with the past three we've had living out here away from people I've kept up the active exposure in town longer than I've done with the dogs we had while living in a city. Seems like when they spend most of their time out in the country they need some extra exposure to the city and people and kids in particular to keep their manners up out in public. With our german shepherds I've paid extra attention to exposing them to children in town- in the past when we'd slacked off on that part of it we found that a small child running and screaming and just acting like a kid can set off that pesky prey drive and people tend to think its aggression when your dog yips and obviously wants to chase that kid with the football lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for your responses. It's very reassuring to hear from experienced dog owners. I'll continue my socialization efforts but scale back a bit. Cricket and I have taken two puppy training classes and she's very quick at learning new commands. I can see now that I have to start working with her in more distracting environments. As I haven't had a dog since I was a teenager, and that was a long time ago, I wasn't prepared for her wild enthusiasm for people. All the books I read to prepare for a dog emphasized exposure to all kinds of things to guard against having a fearful adult dog--well, I haven't come across anything Cricket is afraid of --not a lightening/thunder storm, vacuum cleaner or even an enraged hen turkey.

I'm having her spayed in a few weeks and am wondering if that will bring any behavior changes.
 

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Thank you for your responses. It's very reassuring to hear from experienced dog owners. I'll continue my socialization efforts but scale back a bit. Cricket and I have taken two puppy training classes and she's very quick at learning new commands. I can see now that I have to start working with her in more distracting environments. As I haven't had a dog since I was a teenager, and that was a long time ago, I wasn't prepared for her wild enthusiasm for people. All the books I read to prepare for a dog emphasized exposure to all kinds of things to guard against having a fearful adult dog--well, I haven't come across anything Cricket is afraid of --not a lightening/thunder storm, vacuum cleaner or even an enraged hen turkey.

I'm having her spayed in a few weeks and am wondering if that will bring any behavior changes.
Spay and neuter don't generally guarantee behavior changes. Sometimes, but it really isn't as common as people make it out to be.

Of course your choices if/when to spay and neuter are always yours, but research suggests that waiting to alter dogs until after their growth plates have closed (generally at 1 year old) reduces the risk of certain health issues. I'm to lazy to go find the articles right now, but if you search "spay and neuter" or other related topics on this forum you can probably find some good information on the topic that multiple people have posted, with links to scientific studies.
 

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Spaying, as such, may not cause a problem, but being away from you, and having to keep quiet ... all the related changes for 1 - 2 weeks, may influence some behavioral changes, that should be straightforward to reverse, if they even occur. If you try to keep her schedule as normal as possible, based on the Vet's recommendations then you may see not changes.

In addition, teach her to sit when she sees people ... to decrease he chances for jumping .... Or, in her case, you may consider teaching her to lie on her side for a belly rub ;-)

Finally, try to introduce her to as many kids as possible, b/c kids can run around or stare at dogs, which may excite the dog.
 
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