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Discussion Starter #1
A lot of people seem to think that socializing a puppy means letting the puppy play with other dogs and puppies and letting people pet their puppy.

That is not really it. Those things can happen (although I never let my puppies play with other puppies because one puppy is always the loser and I don't want that puppy to be mine).

This article makes some excellent points and explains what socializing should be..

https://protect2.fireeye.com/url?k=508ace95-0caecfdc-508837a0-0cc47aa8d394-fcee059d740d8dd1&u=http://playwaydogs.com/we-need-to-stop-calling-it-socialization/
 

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I love Amy Cook. I wish I had been introduced to her when I got my first dog, instead of when I got my third.

Also, good play should be equal between both parties, with either no one being the obvious "loser", or each puppy taking turns.
 

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A lot of people seem to think that socializing a puppy means letting the puppy play with other dogs and puppies and letting people pet their puppy.
It's been almost 30 years since I had my first pup. Back then, I had no idea that "socialization" was something I needed to worry about. I fed my pup, took him to the vet and loved him like one of the family. That was all he needed to become a wonderful productive member of our household.

Fifteen years ago, pup number two came into my life. I bought a book on raising a puppy and learned that he should be properly socialized. I immediately thought that meant spending time socializing with people and puppies. I took him to PetSmart for puppy class led by a dog trainer. My pup was afraid of the other pups. He growled at them and barked when they came close. He was labeled aggressive and barely missed being expelled from class for his poor behavior. I was at a loss. How was I supposed to "socialize" an anti-social puppy? Taking him to a dog trainer wouldn't work, after all, it was a dog trainer who told me that my pup was aggressive. From that point, I never took him anywhere outside our home, except to the vet and for his occasional car ride to nowhere in particular. (He LOVED car rides)

Fast forward to last fall when I got this pup. Determined not to have a completely secluded pooch this time, I did some research into that puppy buzz word: Socialization. The more I read, the more I learned that it has NOTHING to do with socializing. Instead, it is all about SUPERVISED INTRODUCTION TO NEW: SIGHTS, SOUNDS, TEXTURES, OBJECTS and LIVING BEINGS. I also learned that the absolute best time for this SUPERVISED INTRODUCTION was a very small window in first few months of a pup's life.

Unfortunately, I had surgery and a three-week recovery smack dab in the middle of my pups "socialization window." I was deflated. I felt like a failure. Then I reminded myself that my dog will likely encounter new people, places, things and experiences her entire life. It is my job to provide supervision, support and measures necessary to ensure her safety as well as the safety of others and she is introduced to those new experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I love Amy Cook. I wish I had been introduced to her when I got my first dog, instead of when I got my third.

Also, good play should be equal between both parties, with either no one being the obvious "loser", or each puppy taking turns.
If you have a dog you want to have grow up to think he or she "owns the world" you do not want this puppy interaction and play after 6-8 weeks old. Yes. One is ALWAYS the loser. You watch.. even in a more matched situation there is one who is bossing the other more of the time.

For a pet dog? It is likely not an issue although it can impact confidence. Beyond that, if you want the dog to find you the most engaging thing around, puppy play detracts from that and from your training if for no other reason than it is easier for a puppy to relate to another puppy than to a human. I think it depends on what you, as the puppy owner, wants.

I want a puppy that grows into a dog that may even have a bit of an attitude and the thought that he/she owns everything. It is one reason I do not have my working dog as a house pet. Too many rules.. (stay off the counter, off the table, out of my food etc etc... house rules a pet dog must follow). For a dog you want to have engage with a decoy and work? It puppy-puppy play (or even dog-dog play) is something to avoid.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's been almost 30 years since I had my first pup. Back then, I had no idea that "socialization" was something I needed to worry about. I fed my pup, took him to the vet and loved him like one of the family. That was all he needed to become a wonderful productive member of our household.

Fifteen years ago, pup number two came into my life. I bought a book on raising a puppy and learned that he should be properly socialized. I immediately thought that meant spending time socializing with people and puppies. I took him to PetSmart for puppy class led by a dog trainer. My pup was afraid of the other pups. He growled at them and barked when they came close. He was labeled aggressive and barely missed being expelled from class for his poor behavior. I was at a loss. How was I supposed to "socialize" an anti-social puppy? Taking him to a dog trainer wouldn't work, after all, it was a dog trainer who told me that my pup was aggressive. From that point, I never took him anywhere outside our home, except to the vet and for his occasional car ride to nowhere in particular. (He LOVED car rides)

Fast forward to last fall when I got this pup. Determined not to have a completely secluded pooch this time, I did some research into that puppy buzz word: Socialization. The more I read, the more I learned that it has NOTHING to do with socializing. Instead, it is all about SUPERVISED INTRODUCTION TO NEW: SIGHTS, SOUNDS, TEXTURES, OBJECTS and LIVING BEINGS. I also learned that the absolute best time for this SUPERVISED INTRODUCTION was a very small window in first few months of a pup's life.

Unfortunately, I had surgery and a three-week recovery smack dab in the middle of my pups "socialization window." I was deflated. I felt like a failure. Then I reminded myself that my dog will likely encounter new people, places, things and experiences her entire life. It is my job to provide supervision, support and measures necessary to ensure her safety as well as the safety of others and she is introduced to those new experiences.
While preferable to get that environmental experience during a certain time frame in the puppy's development, a well balanced dog should still be fine even if it happens a bit late.
A dog that is not well balanced can still be an issue even if socialized during that window.
 

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Back when I was much younger I fell for the whole "let your puppy play with tons of dogs and people" thing. I raised one puppy that way. Never having done it that way I made tons of mistakes, but the outcome ended up being a dog that absolutely hated other dogs- couldnt even be around them in public, loved people to the point it was super annoying and was just a general pain to have in public. Like I said there were tons of mistakes made, but i think the biggest was the notion of throwing her into groups of dogs so she could " learn how to be a dog ". When she matured it was obvious she wouldn't have loved dogs anyway, but throwing a puppy with that basic temperament in with a bunch of dogs repeatedly really really made it worse. Live and learn.
 

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More than 30 years ago, Dr. Ian Dunbar implemented the research by Scott & Fuller to expose dogs to the world while they were young, accommodating the fear cycles. He set up Sirius Classes, so that dogs wouldn't be fearful, bite strangers, and be released to the dog pound, where they would be euth'd in 3 days for being aggressive and dangerous. This was a common practice! There were few or no No-kill shelters at the time. He popularized the term, "socialization" and described the protocol, simplifying it for new owners ... owners who would release a puppy if it bit little Timmy. Everyone (including me) simplified Dunbar's method, so that new owners could get a start.

In the 1950s - early 1970s, dogs ran around the neighborhood, and didn't need this exposure. My retrievers were confident and well-adjusted. Great as pets and fine for hunting in the field and the marsh. Later, I adopted a GSD as a pet in the 1980's and kept him in the yard, as was the law, taking him for a walk twice a day. I couldn't understand why he wanted to eat every dog that he saw in the neighborhood, and why he barked at some strangers - "Fear aggression" wasn't a common term. A neighbor with lots of kids and two calm GSDs explained that I needed to socialize my dog ... when it was a puppy. So, 10 years later, when I got another retriever, I read Dunbar's method and implemented it, resulting in a well-trained, confident pet and therapy dog.

Yes, you can't just throw your dog into a dog park to learn about life today, but if you want to interact with people, "let her habituate to her world" in a 'controlled and supervised manner'. And, yes the meaning of the term, 'socialization' was diluted. In the comments, someone wrote that they call this process S. E. E. Which stands for Systematic Environmental Exposure. ... My eyes glazed over at this sesquipedalian phrase. ;-) Imagine trying to maintain the attention of a new owner.

And, there are over-generalizations in both directions. If you have a herding breed, you may not want broad exposure. A working dog, an agility dog, may not interact well. But, if you have a Retriever [or a Pit bull], these breeds were developed to interact with people, and you can run into trouble if you don't guide and reinforce this tendency. If you visit the K-9 units in larger cities, the ones that use positive reinforcement rather than aversion method for training, you can see some well-trained patrol and scent dogs, that come home as family pets, when they aren't working. With greater exposure to the environment, these dogs are more predictable, as Scott and Fuller described decades ago.

The Sirius method for socialization addresses the bullying aspect to interrupt and nip it in the bud early. Puppies learn to play nicely, learn bite inhibition, and may even learn to self-handicap. Puppies that have been supervised with a variety of other playmates will learn to take turns, and adapt to various play styles. While I agree with 2GSD4IPO that a well balanced dog should be fine if socialized outside that window [I did it with a 1.5yo dog!], how do you get a 'well-balanced' dog ... by gentle, supervised exposure to selected experiences. Although it sounds glib, a trainer experienced with the Sirius protocols can help.

Having said that, I am probably one of the 'offenders' who led [email protected] down the wrong path about just exposing a dog to 100 different dogs, people, and experiences without guidance for specific supervision and training, also. Even in socializing my own dog, he is still scared of the Vet's high table for examination (she has to look at my 80lb dog while he's standing on the floor). Although he will ignore most barking dogs, there are some dogs that still threaten him. And, he barks at people and dogs through the window, although it is no longer out of fear. Still a work in progress.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
More than 30 years ago, Dr. Ian Dunbar implemented the research by Scott & Fuller to expose dogs to the world while they were young, accommodating the fear cycles. He set up Sirius Classes, so that dogs wouldn't be fearful, bite strangers, and be released to the dog pound, where they would be euth'd in 3 days for being aggressive and dangerous. This was a common practice! There were few or no No-kill shelters at the time. He popularized the term, "socialization" and described the protocol, simplifying it for new owners ... owners who would release a puppy if it bit little Timmy. Everyone (including me) simplified Dunbar's method, so that new owners could get a start.

In the 1950s - early 1970s, dogs ran around the neighborhood, and didn't need this exposure. My retrievers were confident and well-adjusted. Great as pets and fine for hunting in the field and the marsh. Later, I adopted a GSD as a pet in the 1980's and kept him in the yard, as was the law, taking him for a walk twice a day. I couldn't understand why he wanted to eat every dog that he saw in the neighborhood, and why he barked at some strangers - "Fear aggression" wasn't a common term. A neighbor with lots of kids and two calm GSDs explained that I needed to socialize my dog ... when it was a puppy. So, 10 years later, when I got another retriever, I read Dunbar's method and implemented it, resulting in a well-trained, confident pet and therapy dog.
Part of the confidence was genetic. A naturally (genetically) confident dog is very different from one that is not. What worked for your one retriever may very well back fire on another one.

I train with someone who has a dog that is naturally confident but not a fan of other dogs. He needs to ignore them and pay attention to her. She has not allowed him interaction but she most certainly has exposed him to dogs and let him know the focus is to be on her AND she "has his back." In a crowded German Style Conformation show last year her dog behaved like a champ IN SPITE of some very badly behaved and dog aggressive Show Line German Shepherds in the ring.. with handlers who barely had control. In fact, at one point she had to turn around and warn the person behind her.. very clearly.. to keep their dog away from hers or they might suffer an accident.. LOL

I hired an experienced handler for my dog.. also a very confident animal and very well balanced. He kept asking his handler "What's WRONG with them?" when some dog went off. Sadly, three of those dogs.. two very weak nerved and one clearly dog aggressive.. were pinned. SMH

Yes, you can't just throw your dog into a dog park to learn about life today, but if you want to interact with people, "let her habituate to her world" in a 'controlled and supervised manner'. And, yes the meaning of the term, 'socialization' was diluted. In the comments, someone wrote that they call this process S. E. E. Which stands for Systematic Environmental Exposure. ... My eyes glazed over at this sesquipedalian phrase. ;-) Imagine trying to maintain the attention of a new owner.

And, there are over-generalizations in both directions. If you have a herding breed, you may not want broad exposure. A working dog, an agility dog, may not interact well. But, if you have a Retriever [or a Pit bull], these breeds were developed to interact with people, and you can run into trouble if you don't guide and reinforce this tendency.
I disagree with some of this. Interacting with SOME people is OK.. but not a LOT of people. Most will bend over the dog and take postures that are either creepy or intimidating.. and so you need to be smart about WHO interacts with the dog. A LOT of Vet Techs come out and get down on the dog's level and start baby talk with a dog. some dogs are like, "Whatever...." and don't care but a lot of dogs find this in "your face baby talk stuff" to be creepy. I tell them to stop creeping my dog out (tho the one I have now would simply jump on top of them and hump them.. ).

If you visit the K-9 units in larger cities, the ones that use positive reinforcement rather than aversion method for training, you can see some well-trained patrol and scent dogs, that come home as family pets, when they aren't working. With greater exposure to the environment, these dogs are more predictable, as Scott and Fuller described decades ago.
I train sometimes with some of the best in this business. One fellow I train with runs the City K9 unit and also patrols. His last retired dog had over 150 live bites in his career.. so clearly his patrol was not "tame."

Just so you know, a GOOD patrol dog does NOT live with the family. Too many rules and the dog ends up at the bottom of the pecking order. Everyone from the officer's spouse to the kids come first. If you want to be a K9 handler with the VA (for instance) they REQUIRE the dog to live in a kennel. Many police departments require this.

The best patrol dog that will engage and save an officer's life is a strong animal with a very controlling or domineering temperament. A great patrol dog is usually NOT a great sport dog for Schutzhund/IPO/IPG. You want that when a bad guy is attacking you. These dogs live in kennels and not in the house. They need to believe they can win. If they are constantly warned to stay off the couch and not be rowdy in the house, that can impact a building search or engagement in a building. Think of it this way. Dog learns to stay off the couch and not jump on the table. Now he is in an building and the bad guy is behind the couch or table. Dog, instead of going over the obstacle and making a frontal attack, goes around the couch and gives the bad guy a chance to go sideways and get a shot off at the officer.

Remember, the K9 dog is a tool just like a gun, taser, radio, handcuffs and so forth.

OFTEN the dog you see at the social events wearing that K9 vest may very well be a stand in for the dog the officer takes into the bad sections of his patrol. Just information for you. YES some dogs also live in the house and so forth. They MAY engage a suspect.. or not.. and if your life depends on that dog you simply want to remove every possible "MAYBE" in that dog's mind.

The Sirius method for socialization addresses the bullying aspect to interrupt and nip it in the bud early. Puppies learn to play nicely, learn bite inhibition, and may even learn to self-handicap. Puppies that have been supervised with a variety of other playmates will learn to take turns, and adapt to various play styles. While I agree with 2GSD4IPO that a well balanced dog should be fine if socialized outside that window [I did it with a 1.5yo dog!], how do you get a 'well-balanced' dog ... by gentle, supervised exposure to selected experiences. Although it sounds glib, a trainer experienced with the Sirius protocols can help.
No question that training can help. As noted above it does. One of the VERY important aspects is the relationship with the dog. Most pet owners don't have the dog's attention. Many are boring to the dog. The dog is walking along on the end of the leash practically oblivious to the owner. This is just an observation. And that is OK unless the person has a nervous, reactive dog (and a lot of pet dogs are). Again, not a critique as much as an observation. These folks love their dogs and shower them with affection, food, and toys. Most NEED a trainer and a protocol to make them better owners and to make their dogs better citizens. It is always a real pleasure to see someone who has put some time into their pet dog walking along.. I wish it were not so rare.

Having said that, I am probably one of the 'offenders' who led [email protected] down the wrong path about just exposing a dog to 100 different dogs, people, and experiences without guidance for specific supervision and training, also. Even in socializing my own dog, he is still scared of the Vet's high table for examination (she has to look at my 80lb dog while he's standing on the floor). Although he will ignore most barking dogs, there are some dogs that still threaten him. And, he barks at people and dogs through the window, although it is no longer out of fear. Still a work in progress.
Every dog is different. Every. Single. One.
We were discussing vet visits the other day. One person said it would be so much easier for big dogs if the vet had a motorized grooming table that would raise the dog for exam.
My vet NEVER expects a dog over 20-30 pounds to be put on the exam table. Who puts and 80 pound dog on an exam table? Not for nothing but a slip and/or fall could be a career ending injury? Further.. the whole situation is stressful. Why add to that with a lift to a slippery surface? I want the dog to be calm at the vet. I am lucky in that the last two dogs were confident and calm. I had another one that was not only confident but was also very dominant (she herded cattle and her dominant attitude was beneficial). She let anyone pet her but only so far. At the vet I muzzled her because she was like "You are NOT doing anything to me. Period." I have another dog that is terrified at the vet.. she is very nervy (genetic) and conflicted (unconfident). I also muzzle her as a precaution due to her extreme fear (fight of flight concerns). She is very well trained, but when the pressure comes on she reverts to her hard wired behavior.

The chiropractor vet has a low table the dog hops up on with a no skid surface. Of course, all the dogs LOVE the chiropractor, the cold laser, and the massage. I wonder if I can get the Vet to work on me after being done with the dog! Ha!
 

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Interesting about the exam tables at the vet. The dog I have now, when he was maybe 8-9 months old I took him to the vet for a check up. While there I asked them to go ahead and clip his nails ( I do it myself but since we were already there ). The tech was on the floor with Beau petting him. She tried to actually pin him to her body to hold him for another tech to do the trim. We'll she narrowly missed getting nailed trying to pin him. The vet who is older and experienced had me put him up on the exam table standing up. He was about eye level with Beau and just picked up a foot at a time and trimmed real quick. Beau was perfectly fine with this way of doing it. Beau had alot of exposure to things as a pup and was always a very outgoing and confident pup, would interact with anything and everything if allowed and loved visiting the vets office. That was my first real eye opener that even though he's pretty social with people he knows he wont tolerate people putting their hands all over him. I think if I could go back to the early stages I would've put some work into teaching him to tolerate alittle more handling from other people. At just over 2 years old now he's aloof towards strangers but will still accept alittle petting- but still wont tolerate someone doing much more than patting his head.
What hanksimon said about his underexposed shepherd- yeah- the first half my life we had shepherds waaay out in the country that got zero exposure to anything off property. These were good west german and czech working line dogs, great dogs. But if you werent part of the immediate family they were totally not approachable. They didnt act psycho but trying to touch one would 100% get you bit. I dont see how there's any way you could have dogs like that these days. These days I do enough enough exposure that I can actually take my dogs places, but man its hard constantly telling people no you cant play with the puppy. Thats probably the hardest part for me- other people. You have a plan for how you want to raise a pup but other people arent always on board, and there sure are alot of people out there who are perfectly happy to practically maul your pup with affection!
 

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I would call it exposure. To new places, people, sounds, ect. You can never "socialize" your dog to everything and you don't need to. Different breeds might require more exposure and different handling depending on what you want of that dog, but core temperamen is going to play a big role too and people forget it is not just environment.
 
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