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Discussion Starter #1
Lets get to the point.

Topic: Dog socialization

Some questions to kick start discussion:
What does it mean?
What do you do for socialization and why?
 

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Socialize - to introduce a pup to many different experiences, including people, dogs, and other animals, to get him accustomed to 'novelty' so that he remains calm when he runs into new situations.

I introduced my pup to many different people, took him for rides in the car, shopping, to the Vet's waiting room every week, to PetsMart, to the playground, dog park. I also was lucky to find a playmate with similar energy for him to tussle with. ... He is now as calm as a stuffed teddy bear.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Socialize - to introduce a pup to many different experiences, including people, dogs, and other animals, to get him accustomed to 'novelty' so that he remains calm when he runs into new situations.

I introduced my pup to many different people, took him for rides in the car, shopping, to the Vet's waiting room every week, to PetsMart, to the playground, dog park. I also was lucky to find a playmate with similar energy for him to tussle with. ... He is now as calm as a stuffed teddy bear.

Calm as a stuffed teddy bear in every situation you exposed him to? Are you sure that it's not just his temperament to react calmly to stuff?

I completely agree with your definition of socialization - essentially to get the dog used to situations he will deal with in life so that he is calm and confident in those situations.
 

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Socialisation is the wrong word I think. Habituation is better. Getting them used to different situations and environment and being able to focus on the owner and do as they are told no matter how many people and dogs are around, and being able to be around people and dogs without trying to interact with them.

Socialisation means just that, to socialise with people and dogs. Which is the least important part of socialisation as far as I'm concerned. I don't care if my dogs never interact with strangers or unfamiliar dogs. I want them socialised enough that they know what to do if the situation arises, but it's not the be all and end all of socialising a dog. But most people think socialising a dog means letting it play with other puppies at puppy class or the dog park, or just running around with the other family dog at home.

If we changed it, and stopped saying "you have to socialise your dog" and started saying " you have to habituate your dog" I think we'd have a lot more stable dogs around.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Socialisation is the wrong word I think. Habituation is better. Getting them used to different situations and environment and being able to focus on the owner and do as they are told no matter how many people and dogs are around, and being able to be around people and dogs without trying to interact with them.
In my book, socialization and habituation are the same thing, and Jean Donaldson defines it that way as well. They should mean the same thing, but people misuse the term "socializing" so much that it has come to mean "letting their dog run up to other dogs and letting everybody indiscriminately pet him".


If we changed it, and stopped saying "you have to socialise your dog" and started saying " you have to habituate your dog" I think we'd have a lot more stable dogs around.
Something like that. I don't know about stable since that can also mean different things to different people, but more calm and relaxed dogs for sure. Socialization is a form of classical conditioning.
 

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In my dog trainer course they called it "socialisation and habituation" and differentiated between actually socialising with others, and getting used to different environments. I guess it depends who you ask.

I don't like Ian Dunbar's statement that puppies should meet "as many people and dogs as possible" in the first 4 months. Nothing wrong with it in itself, but when I got Obi, before I really had a clue, I figured we'd go to puppy classes so he could meet all these people and dogs, so we went to 3 different puppy classes but didn't do much else. As a result he goes weird whenever we go anywhere new to him. He settles down eventually, but every time he's in a new place he becomes a needy sook.

He's great in training classes though, even in new classes in places he's never been with lots of dogs and people around he's completely focused and awesome. But if I take him to the supermarket he goes all weird.

And not saying anything bad about Dunbar either, I think he's great, but that statement just bugs me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't like Ian Dunbar's statement that puppies should meet "as many people and dogs as possible" in the first 4 months. Nothing wrong with it in itself, but when I got Obi, before I really had a clue, I figured we'd go to puppy classes so he could meet all these people and dogs, so we went to 3 different puppy classes but didn't do much else. As a result he goes weird whenever we go anywhere new to him. He settles down eventually, but every time he's in a new place he becomes a needy sook.

He's great in training classes though, even in new classes in places he's never been with lots of dogs and people around he's completely focused and awesome. But if I take him to the supermarket he goes all weird.

And not saying anything bad about Dunbar either, I think he's great, but that statement just bugs me.


Yeah, I actually disagree with a lot of Dunbar's personal ideas - for example his emphasis on verbal communication I think is kind of stupid. He criticizes clickers for being unnatural and talking as more natural way to communicate. Yeah right, because wild dogs go talking with each other. I can go on forever on the subject of talking vs. clicker.

Anyways, are you saying that you wish you had not just taking your dog to meet people & dogs, but also taken him to places as well?
 

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i thought about taking Nyx to a few puppy socialization classes aka puppy play dates. but they were all for pups her age and size. and its indoors here so she doesn't get to run and play outdoors and well what if she has to go pee while playing she kind learns to pee indoors. So i take her to the dog park so she can meet dogs. I am fine letting her do her own thing. she likes to see people still and will go to a few dogs. but iam not pushing her to play with a bunch of dogs at once.
I am not one for taking my dog to meet a million and one people in the first few months of her life. i really don't want her to willing go with someone or take food from someone with out me knowing about it.
 

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Anyways, are you saying that you wish you had not just taking your dog to meet people & dogs, but also taken him to places as well?
Yeah, exactly what I'm saying. For my next puppy I will focus mainly on habituation I think, just going new places regularly and just hang out and maybe work on some basic stuff, just so it learns that everywhere is good and to be able to settle down anywhere.
 

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To me socialization is interaction of many kinds, including interacting with the environment. I know that isn't exactly a dictionary term, but that's how I frame it in my mind in terms of socializing a puppy.
I screwed up socializing, didn't do enough. I do understand the point that Rottysrule makes about not wanting the dog to take things from other people etc, but I don't think that would be a definite consequence. What I know is that not socializing enough Caeda is thoroughly hyper around every new dog and person, we started working hard on this at about 9 months (when she was big enough to be a pain to handle), she is improving, but now its more of a desensitization process than socializing. I SHOULD have taken her everywhere with me, to stores that allowed animals, to work (at least on a Saturday when it was quiet), and I should have found the doggy social and training class sooner than I did. The hyperness might be partially temperament but I can't help but think that more socialization would have been better.
 

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To me socialization is interaction of many kinds, including interacting with the environment. I know that isn't exactly a dictionary term, but that's how I frame it in my mind in terms of socializing a puppy.
I screwed up socializing, didn't do enough. I do understand the point that Rottysrule makes about not wanting the dog to take things from other people etc, but I don't think that would be a definite consequence. What I know is that not socializing enough Caeda is thoroughly hyper around every new dog and person, we started working hard on this at about 9 months (when she was big enough to be a pain to handle), she is improving, but now its more of a desensitization process than socializing. I SHOULD have taken her everywhere with me, to stores that allowed animals, to work (at least on a Saturday when it was quiet), and I should have found the doggy social and training class sooner than I did. The hyperness might be partially temperament but I can't help but think that more socialization would have been better.

I wouldn't mind a dog who takes food from everybody. If he ever got lost, you want the dog to gravitate to people.

I totally agree with you that a dog needs to be taught self control from an early age. Sure some dogs, just like people, are more rowdy than others. Maybe they lost out on early socialization or they're just like that. For those, being calm is more artificial because the owner has to make a deliberate effort to teach alternate behaviors, but it's a necessity if the owner wishes to take the dog places. An excited dog is a nuisance to everybody in the environment and will quickly lose his freedom in the world.
 

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I wouldn't mind a dog who takes food from everybody. If he ever got lost, you want the dog to gravitate to people.

I totally agree with you that a dog needs to be taught self control from an early age. Sure some dogs, just like people, are more rowdy than others. Maybe they lost out on early socialization or they're just like that. For those, being calm is more artificial because the owner has to make a deliberate effort to teach alternate behaviors, but it's a necessity if the owner wishes to take the dog places. An excited dog is a nuisance to everybody in the environment and will quickly lose his freedom in the world.
Actually with Caeda as an example, she LOVES people, and would gravitate to them either way, and probably take offered food, problem being is that she is one of those excited dogs (at least for the first 10 minutes), which if she was lost and saw a person could get her into trouble. She's not huge and menacing, but the wrong person could misconstrue it as aggression (really....65lbs of dog running full tilt to see you). She can be a nuisance, and was as a puppy (which was part of the reason socialization was put off...dumb me), far easier to do as a puppy!
Also ongoing socialization has made her a little less interested in the stuff WAY over there, which has improved her recall, since we are just as cool and interesting, and made her more willing to be with us rather than exploring new stuff.
My biggest thought on socialization, whether done properly or not as a puppy....its an ongoing thing!
 

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My biggest thought on socialization, whether done properly or not as a puppy....its an ongoing thing!

No doubt, training & socialization are lifelong commitments. It kills me when people think that they've "trained" the dog and so the dog "knows", and subsequent incorrect behaviors are just the dog being stubborn, rebellious, etc... because after all, the dog "knows" better, whatever that means. That line of thinking is just a clever way of shifting blame away from the human, because it's implying the human has done their part and the dog has not.
 

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I think the amount and type of socialization depends on the dog. If your puppy will go see new people with their tail wagging and do a 'Hi I'm a puppy' routine, then fine, start on training manners and don't focus as much on getting them to be friendly.

If on the other hand your pup sees a stranger and goes and hides in another room, you need to do a lot of work to get them comfortable and outgoing with new people/situations so they aren't going to avoid and hide. It's not likely they're going to leap into a stranger's lap so manners takes a back seat.

I DO want my dogs to go say hi to strangers and approach them. Much, much safer for them if they ever get loose to go find a new friend and hang out. My golden got out years ago without me knowing it and was gone for an hour, I was in panic mode, started looking and the neighbor across the street said 'she's here watching TV and eating popcorn' - She had just been outside to turn the sprinkler off and Bender trotted over to say hi so she let her in so she wasn't on the road. I've heard more tragic endings where the dog was fearful and shy and nobody could get close to the dog and there were just sightings of the dog in areas before it bolted off again. If they're socialized and friendly they're more likely to seek out a human and get taken to safety.
 

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I agree that socialize is synonymous with habituate. I think the word was chosen to get people in the habit of building confidence, rather than being reactive.

In contrast to lots of folks, I want my Lab to be friendly with everyone and confident in many situations. Thirty years ago, I had a GSD mix that I did not socialize... and I was lucky that we never got in trouble. So, I super socialized (habituated) my current dog.
 

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I try to get Hamilton out and about as much as possible. We go to the park when the weather is nice, and he gets swarmed by kids. We go to puppy class and puppy socialization group. He has a puppy friend that comes over and runs around the yard with him. We go to doxie meetups. I have friends come over. I bring him to the pet store.... where he is also swarmed by children. I've brought him to a friend's house with a massive-but-friendly shiba inu (40 lbs!). We've sat outside the food co-op at a picnic table and had people give him treats and pets. I try to get him out and about as much as possible. I don't want him to be like my neighbors dogs who don't like people other than their owners or other dogs.
 

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I have always felt socialization includes: introducing a dog/pup to humans, friends, family, neighbors, obedience classes (I have never had the need for day care ... but that is also good IMO ) .... places you can take your dog/pup like pet friendly stores ... even hanging out in a parking lot.

Once a dog/pup has had all vaccines and the "green light" ... and feet on the ground ... a wider variety of socialization can begin.

I have always been huge on environmental socialization. There are sooooo many sights, sounds, smells out in the real world ... IMHO if a dog/pup is confined to only a back yard or just a minimal street walk or always kept in the house ... you are asking for problems. You will end up with an anxious, fearful animal. They need those scary things introduced slowly to be well adjusted. They need self confidence too. The more the merrier! :)
 

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I have always felt socialization includes: introducing a dog/pup to humans, friends, family, neighbors, obedience classes (I have never had the need for day care ... but that is also good IMO ) .... places you can take your dog/pup like pet friendly stores ... even hanging out in a parking lot.

Once a dog/pup has had all vaccines and the "green light" ... and feet on the ground ... a wider variety of socialization can begin.

I have always been huge on environmental socialization. There are sooooo many sights, sounds, smells out in the real world ... IMHO if a dog/pup is confined to only a back yard or just a minimal street walk or always kept in the house ... you are asking for problems. You will end up with an anxious, fearful animal. They need those scary things introduced slowly to be well adjusted. They need self confidence too. The more the merrier! :)
This is my opinion as well :D
 

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Yeah, I actually disagree with a lot of Dunbar's personal ideas - for example his emphasis on verbal communication I think is kind of stupid. He criticizes clickers for being unnatural and talking as more natural way to communicate. Yeah right, because wild dogs go talking with each other. I can go on forever on the subject of talking vs. clicker.
That is a bad position. Like you said, both are "unnatural" if looking at it from the dog, though I'm not anti-verbal. I use verbal markers and Wally learns with them and understands as well. Clicker is marker. You can have a verbal marker. *shrug* I just don't see why it's a big fight either way. If you like clickers - use clickers. If you like verbal markers - use them. If you like both, use both. Having a good training process and timing is more important than type of marker.

As far as socialization, I'm trying to expose Wally to more people and things in situations that are safe and, basically, using classical conditioning. He still has some issues with adults (with kids, he's very, very accepting and curious now), so I'm still trying to have people interact with Wally, let them give him his treats, etc. Not many adults walking around, though, but kids are everywhere LOL, probably why the divergence.
 

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I have always been huge on environmental socialization. There are sooooo many sights, sounds, smells out in the real world ... IMHO if a dog/pup is confined to only a back yard or just a minimal street walk or always kept in the house ... you are asking for problems. You will end up with an anxious, fearful animal. They need those scary things introduced slowly to be well adjusted. They need self confidence too. The more the merrier! :)
I've seen that in person. There's a JRT just a few houses down that hardly ever gets to go out, and she's become more and more anxious and reactive. Even Wally looks brave compared to her. The only time she's ever out is to pee/poop, and even then...mostly just in the front yard. Hardly ever interacts with anyone else dog or human, and with the way she is now, people that want to are just scared off (literally). She didn't use to be that way. :(
 
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