Poorly socialised adolescent dog

Posted by alex-jones
Jul 26, 2012
2 months ago we adopted a 1 year old German shepherd dog, Shadow, and it was quickly apparent that he has been poorly socialised, and was an extreme lead puller. We are guessing that as a result he was not walked regularly. We also have a 7 year old German Shepherd, and they seem to have settled well in the house together after a few minor altercations in the first few days. We have separated them for walking as it was impossible to get Shadow's attention, and our older dog became more reactive to strange dogs with him around. With a lot of hard work and consistency Shadow is now walking well on the lead, however when we walk somewhere new he is overstimulated and does not give his attention easily. He is also very reactive to seeing other dogs when out. We live in a residential area, and although we are trying to maintain dogs at a distance so that we can gradually reduce this and aim to meet nicely eventually, sometimes you meet dogs unexpectedly, or they approach when you are trying to reinforce a command with him, which results in barking and being led reluctantly away from the other dog. We use a dogmatic head collar, and when there are no distractions he has responded well to clicker training, however when distracted it seems to be impossible to break through his concentration. We already follow the alpha dog rules pretty consistently, but I will check again if we are missing something. Of course there is lots of emphasis on socialising puppies to avoid these issues, but how do we now go about trying to build on his socia
Isation to enable us to meet other dogs nicely? And of course some advise on when and how to start trying to walk the dogs together would also be helpful as we hadn't intended to need to walk separately as a permanent option.
Posted by john-eckard
Aug 1, 2012
Let me know how you make out. I have adopted a 1.5 year old GSD who bonded quickly but has seperation anxiety and is very protective for other dogs and people. I have already learned if I keep her at bay from the people and stand there and talk to them for a couple of minute she calms down and gets curious and starts to smell them. But tell the people your talking to not to pet you dog until it seems disinterested then they can talk to her and pet her. Also tell the people not to make eye contact right away, eye contact can be viewed as challenging them. John
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Aug 2, 2012
Hi Alex-Jones,

I think you have been doing a great job with Shadow. It has been only a couple of months and I would give him another few months or even more until he really settles in his new home and gets socialized since he missed the very critical window for socialization during his puppyhood.

I understand how difficult to walk multiple dogs when one of them is undersocialized. I usually walk all my 3 dogs (and sometimes a foster dog together that makes 4 dogs!). All my dogs are rescued dogs so I have no idea how much socialization they got. Holly is a very confident dog but when Noah or Daisy gets nervous she acts up too and I end up having 3 barking dogs

To avoid that mess, I have been doing this. I carry some treats with me. Whenever I see a dog coming this way I step off to the side with my dogs and have them focus on me by saying "Watch me" and "Leave it". Once the other dog passes by I praise my dogs and give them treats. They now know this routine so they usually choose listen to me so that they get treats, rather than acting up and making me upset. Once in a while, I forget to take treats with me but that's OK. I just praise them at the scene and promise them that they will get treats when we get home.

I think you can try this method when walking one dog separately and see how it goes first. Good luck!
Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 3, 2012
I'd just like to back up MaxHollyNoah's training suggestion - its what I did with my own dog when he was young and too excited about meeting other dogs. It works really well so I think you should give it a go!
Posted by alex-jones
Aug 3, 2012
Thanks for the encouragement, having read some more of the training book, we are now trying to use the 'watch', which Shadow is consistent with when there are no distractions. We are also using a rattle bottle for gaining attention when there is another dog around, then using the sit and watch commands.
We are doing OK, but starting slow with trying to do this when dogs are still quite a way off (there's no chance when they are too close), but we are feeling optimistic, he is a quick learner in the house. In fact it has highlighted areas where our older dog, Scrappy does not behave quite as well as we thought, so training is ongoing for both!
Posted by alex-jones
Aug 7, 2012
Does anyone have any advice on the best methods for introducing Shadow to their dogs? My mum has a young spaniel, who Shadow has met, although they were a little overexcitable when they met, it became a bit calmer after we went for a REALLY long walk, although the play mouthing looks a little rough with the size difference.

Obviously with the lead reactive behaviour, meeting on the lead is stressful, but we're not too sure how safe it would be for shadow to meet other dogs off the lead.

We have friends with a young puppy, and other adult dogs in the family who we'll be meeting up with soon and we'd welcome any advice on how to manage these meetings for the best.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Aug 9, 2012
Hi Alex,

When dogs are engaged in play by mouthing, it sometimes look a bit scary or too rough but usually one dog lets the other know if it becomes too much so I am not so worry about your dog playing with your mom's Spaniel.

I am pretty sure your dog will be fine with the puppy as long as you and the other family are supervising and reminding your dog to be "gentle". I am more concerned about how your dog and their other adult dogs can get along. If those adult dogs are at the scene of your dog meeting the puppy, they might get pretty protective of the pup. They have already formed a pack so the adult dogs might send some signals to your dog to back up when getting too close to the pup. Youd dog, then, being undersolialized, can get reactive to that. It might be a good idea to let Shadow meet with one of their adult dogs (the calmest and the most socialized and confident dog) first. Then, introduce the other ones (I don't know how many) one at the time if the first meet goes well, and the pup at the last. During the meeting session, make sure Shadow is still paying attention to what you tell him, by calling his name and telling him to be "Gentle" or "Leave it" in case you see his hackles up, etc.

The following website shows all kinds of dog expressions (not only face but the whole body) for you to look for a sign of aggression or uneasiness.

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(for some reason, the link gets messed up; take N08/sets/72157623555143141/" rel="nofollow"> off in front of www.)
Posted by alex-jones
Aug 12, 2012
Great advice thank you. Luckily we will be meeting mostly one at a time, although we will probably meet my sister's dog with my mum's spaniel, so maybe a meet before they're all together. I'll let you know how it goes, and have a look at the photos too.
Posted by alex-jones
Aug 24, 2012
Just to update, we have started to take Shadow to a dog day care in order to try and catch up with socialisation. He has settled in playing lovely with the other dogs, just barking when new dogs arrive and he is a bit unsure.

Unfortunately we're only going to be able to take him 1-2 times a week because it is quite a long way from home, but it's worth it if he benefits (and he is so tired from all the playing!). So hopefully he will start to be less concerned about dogs he sees out on walks, we will persevere with trying to gradually reduce the distance from dogs when we're out.

He also met a couple of the family dogs, and although he was a little barky at first, we was just trying to get them to play in no time. Stranger dogs is definitely the issue.

(Unfortunately I couldn't get the link to the photos to work even without the extra bits on the front)