Promoting responsible German Shepherd Dog ownership
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Hi: I'm a first time GSD owner & my male pup is today 14 weeks old. Ive done all I can to socialize him with as much variety of people & animals as possible but Ive not had much of a chance to get him around other dogs because the COVID-19 has kept nearly everyone home.
He's very friendly with strange people but has not had much interaction with other dogs. I very much want this puppy to not grow up to be dog aggressive but Ive read that by his age of 14 weeks socialization work should have already been done. Inside the house we keep him in a play pen & he sees our little female Chihuahua all the time but we can't let him play with her because he's way too rough.
Are we too late to effectively work with him on this? If not, how much time do we have?
You have another couple of weeks. Is there a dog park nearby? Or a park with other dogs?
Thank you for your response.
The answer is yes, there are some but most are closed & others are not being used very much. That is my problem.
Have you tried a pet supply store? Tractor Supply? Lowe's? A puppy socialization class?
Yes but local Petsmart & others are really empty. My onl;y option is to drive him to a place where a friend of ours walks his adult Rhodesian Ridgeback & do the walk with them. However that's only one dog & I really want him to socialize with as many as possible.
This virus craze has really changed our city. I hope that when its over I'll still have a chance to get him to play with other dogs. A dog-aggressive GSD is a real pain in the butt.
The rhodesian ridgeback can be a great start. Dog parks and places where you can meet aggressive dogs often backfire and can cause reactivity. Unless you know of a good dog park that isn't known for clueless owners I'd avoid them. If there are pet groups in your area online I'd try reaching out to them and finding people with well mannered/social dogs that are willing to do play dates to get him some exposure.
Things like leash greetings at stores can contribute to leash reactivity so just make sure to keep good leash manners and don't let him pull ahead to greet every dog if you do that.
Dog parks are excellent places to take dogs to socialize. The things you have to look out for in dog parks are toys, food, and Pit Bulls. Always leave when a Pit Bull comes in. They are genetically bred to fight and kill other dogs. A Pit Bull may place nice one moment and be triggered the next.
The good thing about German Shepherds is that they are NOT bred to be dog aggressive. Dog aggressive dogs are useless in work venues and the German Shepherd needs to be dog friendly or neutral, after all, GSDs are the kings of working dogs. What that means to you is that it is highly unlikely that your puppy is genetically dog aggressive like Pit Bulls. If it isn't genetic, it is workable and most likely fixable. Have you tried walking any hiking trails?
I'm glad to learn that GSD are not particularly dog aggressive. No doubt that a strange Pit Bull is definitely not a dog I would allow my dog to approach. I don't like the bad rap they have gotten because I've met many really gentle ones but those that cause trouble are very dangerous.
The place where I will take him to walk with the Ridgeback is a popular jogging/bicycle trail. I have seen a (very) few dogs on leashes there as well so hopefully it will be a good experience for all of us.
Pit pulls are insidious for seeming to be very sweet dogs until they turn. I was in the animal ER last year with a young man who had bandages all over his arms and legs after trying to break apart his very sweet pits who got into a toy squabble. They nearly killed each other and he was spending thousands of dollars trying to save them.
I was involved with Ridgebacks for a while. They are usually very good dogs and don’t seem to be dog aggressive. They can take a lot of activity so your friend’s dog would probably have the energy to deal with an active puppy. The dog could also be a good socialization partner. I would rather a puppy being around dogs they can learn well from than have a bad experience.
My dog was a little dog reactive so a trainer suggested a doggie daycare. They put my puppy who was five months old, with a group of Labs and Goldens about the same age and it was too much for him. It did not stop the reactivity, in fact may have made it worse.
Check with any local dog clubs to see if they will be offering puppy obedience classes. Even at a distance, those kinds of classes can offer exposure to other dogs in a relaxed setting. Things are opening up now.
Pit Bulls can be very submissive to humans while being deadly with dogs. Don't let them fool you. Pit Bulls don't get a bad rap. They earn it. Keep your puppy away from even Pits that you know. Any moment can be the moment that they trigger and kill. Your puppy's life depends on you. Even an adult GSD is no match for a breed bred to kill.