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How to socialize your dog

October 6th, 2005, 08:59 PM
Hi everyone - I was wondering if somebody could advise me on how to socialize my adopted 10 year old Chesapeake Ret/Coonhound dog. We just got her about 10 days ago and I must admit I am a bit leary of approaching other dogs while walking her as I am afraid they may start fighting. My dog - Finnegan - is a very friendly dog who craves the attention of any PERSON we pass but starts barking at any DOG we come across. Someone told me to just let them touch noses first, others have told me to release the tension on the leash and just let them smell each others rear ends etc. Can anyone give me any advise. From what I was told by the humane society where she was adopted from Finnegan was given up because she didnt get along with other dogs in the house - I have just house trained her - I gather that she was left out all day and just allowed in at night to eat and sleep. Any advice would be appreciated

October 6th, 2005, 09:06 PM
I think it would be wise to just give her some one-on-one attention for a bit first. She needs to trust and respect you before you try to really work on her, especially if this is an issue that she's had for 10 years...

doggy lover
October 6th, 2005, 09:08 PM
Is she just barking like she wants to play or is it aggressive? I always ask someone when they approach me if the dog is ok to play with Tucker, some just bark because they are excited to play with another dog. I let the dog approach and normally there is the sniffing routien, smell butts, privates and so forth, you can tell from their body language that things are ok. If they start to raise their hackles, stand very stiff, or start growling I walk away, I won't risk a fight. My last dog Travis was not a dogs dog he tolerated other dogs but was not one to play with them, he prefered to ignore them, and that is the way he always was. I sure other people here can help you some more, I'm not an expert but I hope this has helped a little.

October 6th, 2005, 09:08 PM
When I adopted my dog she was what we thought was dog aggressive (turns out she was never socialized), so I didn't bother with other dogs at first, I worked on her obedience so that she would always be looking to me for direction. When out walking I would put her in a sit and say watch me (using a treat at first) so that the other dog wasn't important, I was. This worked well as I had control over her and she didn't even care about the other dogs. Once we were at that point I would take her to doggy parks and work her on leash, first far away, then closer and closer, eventually right in the thick of things and free, I did muzzle her the first time off leash as I didn't know what she would really do but thankfully all the work paid off and she was perfect! If you are tense, the dog will react, if you are leary don't do it as it won't be fun. Take things nice and slow. IF you are really worried the best way is to buy a cage muzzle, that way there is no chance of her biting and you will most likely be relaxed, remember to always praise good behaviour. If she's being naughty don' t make a fuss just walk away confidently and she will follow you. If you know she's iffy with other dogs I strongly suggest the muzzle, just for safety sake

October 6th, 2005, 09:10 PM
We got our dog Joey has an adult he too (6 years old) he did not get along with other dogs in the beginning, we enrolled him in obedience classes. A small class of 5 dogs which I think helped a lot, and he even learned a few new tricks too. He growled a lot in the beginning but in the end he was just ignoring the other dogs pretty much. He is doing much better now, and walks by other dogs without growling, or pulling on the leash and has made friends with a few as well. We did have a relapse though I must admit and he growled at a greyhound that he was sniffing perhaps he felt threatened by his size I'm not sure. My fault though I think I let him sniff just a bit too long. But the other dogs he walks by he seems okay with now.

October 6th, 2005, 09:10 PM
I would seek out a trainer who specializes in dealing with aggressive/social issues with dogs. You already know that this dog has a history of not getting along with other dogs and unfortunately you are already nervous about greeting strange dogs. How you handle greeting will affect how well your new dog will do with this. Whatever you do don't jerk the leash, don't allow greetings more than a few seconds to start, when done turn and walk away and don't let them get too close that they can get tangled. You may also want to put a muzzle on just before you greet to keep the other dog safe from a bite until you know better how your dog will handle a greeting. The muzzle will allow you to go in for a greet rather than holding at a distance in fear of a bite or fight. If your dog does well you can continue without the muzzle.
When using the muzzle for greetings place it on just prior to the greet and remove when done. Don't walk with it on.

October 6th, 2005, 09:17 PM
Thanks to all for your advice. I should correct myself. Finnegan does not growl or become aggressive when other dogs approach - she rather just really gets a bit excited and barks. It is me rather than gets a little apprehensive about her meeting another dog. I guess it comes from my previous dog who was not friendly at all (a little terrier mix named BONKERS and he lived up to his name). I am the one who probably needs to relax and let things develop as they may.

October 6th, 2005, 09:19 PM
When using the muzzle for greetings place it on just prior to the greet and remove when done. Don't walk with it on.

How is she going to put on and take off a muzzle while out walking? That will only escalate the tension don't you think? If she wants to go out and safely walk around other dogs the muzzle would have to stay on all the time until she knows whats going to happen if anything....

October 6th, 2005, 09:44 PM
It actually works just fine. The problem with leaving the muzzle on for the entire walk is it ends up being used as a quick fix and the person using it rarely works on the issue. Also when people see this dog with the muzzle on they will automatically think this dog is aggressive and become nervous. This dog will not understand why people are now scared of her when she is good with them. This is the same worry I have for all the pits wearing them for the whole time they are in public.
I deal with dogs that have aggressive/social issues in my business with great success. The muzzle is usually used when starting out to help deal with the owner/ dogs issues to eliminate the chance that another dog/ person gets hurt. It also helps to jump start the work. The problems are usually divided between them. They feed and react off each other. The muzzle only goes on when it is needed, as a helpful tool. If it is not needed all the time then there is no reason to leave it on. If started properly then the dog will not have an issue putting it on or taking it off.
I do however recommend having a trainer to work along with them and guide in a positive manner and explain what needs to be done and when. It seems to help keep the owners calm and direct them with each greeting.

If she is walking around other dogs then the muzzle will be put on just before and taken off when done.

October 6th, 2005, 09:56 PM
Im certainly not a trainer but I have always found , from my nervouse dog owners point of view, that walking my dog with any new dog he meets has been the easiest way of introducing him to a new friend. One of my best doggy frieds used to foster guide dogs so we had to introduce Rocky to all of her boys and girls. We always took them for walks together before having them in our homes together and it has always been fine. Even when he has met some large breed males that at first has barked and made a fuss with, if we walked parallell with one another, dogs on leash of course, he has always at least tolerated, if not become very friendly with them. One trainer I spoke with said that they should greet nose to bum, but I have found that sometimes even when he greets that way, at some point one or the other has gotten a little snarly. Do you havae any human friends with dogs that might want to go for walks? it might be much less stressful for you that way.

October 6th, 2005, 11:13 PM
People at my park have noticed that when they owners like each other, eventually the dogs like each other too. If you strike up a friendly conversation with the dog owner (dogs are great ice breakers too), then maybe the dog will sense less from you and act on what she sees and feels.

October 7th, 2005, 11:01 AM
The muzzle is usually used when starting out to help deal with the owner/ dogs issues to eliminate the chance that another dog/ person gets hurt.

Which is why I suggested she use one for now.... I didn't say use one forever.....

Lucky Rescue
October 7th, 2005, 11:43 AM
she rather just really gets a bit excited and barks.

This is a 10 year old dog you've had for 10 days and have no way of knowing if her actions show that she is just excited and wants to play.

Muzzling her when she's given no reason to do so, and causing her yet more stress (she's already been dumped and lost her home and everyone/everything she knew) would not be a good thing. Try and relax a bit - easier said than done I know - since a tight leash signals fear on your part and can cause a dog to be aggressive.

And if she doesn't really like other dogs, is that so important if she's your only dog?

And a big THANK YOU for adopting a senior!! You're a wonderfully kind and caring person!!!! :thumbs up

October 7th, 2005, 05:12 PM
People at my park have noticed that when they owners like each other, eventually the dogs like each other too. If you strike up a friendly conversation with the dog owner (dogs are great ice breakers too), then maybe the dog will sense less from you and act on what she sees and feels.Thats true Prin, could be why one of the reasons walking them together seems to work-they notice that their owners are getting along!.

October 7th, 2005, 09:11 PM
Thanks for all the advice - I will definitely TRY and relax when approaching a new dog with Finnegan. I had a bad experience with my last little dog - a little terrier cross - named BONKERS - lived up to his name too! so I am a bit nervous about approaching other dogs. I used to just cross the street before to avoid a confrontation with Bonkers but now with FInnegan I would really like to have an all around friendly dog that gets along with others and who knows maybe she is and its just me that is the nervous one. I am doggy sitting next weekend another Chesapeake/Lab cross - 11 years old - so I am really hoping that things are going to go smoothly otherwise I will have one dog upstairs and the other down stairs for the weekend. UGH.

Will keep you posted.

October 7th, 2005, 09:36 PM
It's seems to me that it is really extreme to give up a dog after ten years because she didn't get a long with other dogs in the house. I'm wondering if that is the real reason or just the reason given.

Dogs often pick up on the owners nevrousness and react to it. Also, some dogs will carry on when they are held back and don't if they are allowed to investigate the other dog. I now it is hard to relax when you are unsure of a situation, but try to do so and see how the dog reacts.

I think that DLR could be right and muzzling the dog if she actually hasn't done anything is not the best thing to do. Most shelter's socalize the dogs with each other. Did this happen with her? If you she did it would indicate that she is most likely ok with other dogs. If they didn't find out why, was it because of what the owners said or was it because they encountered dog aggression issues with her?

If it would make you more relaxed and feel more confident when dealing with her, perhaps having a trainer come to your house for a couple of sessions would help.

DLR is also right, you are to be congratulated for taking a senior dog, not many people do.

October 8th, 2005, 11:04 AM
Classes may be very helpful for you and your new pooch. You have past experiences that may make it difficult for you to remain calm. Trying to act calm is a little more difficult than just trying to physically look calm. Chemicals in your body change when you are nervous and you can't just hide them. Your dog will detect these changes.
From the background that you have given says that you are nervous and this dog has a history of not getting along with other dogs.
It may help if you can have a friend that is more confident than you go with you for the first couple of greetings with other dogs. You are better off being prepared for a bad experience and do what you can to control it. If that means putting a muzzle on to see where you both stand then that is the way to go. Do you think you would get close to another dog with the thought that your dog may bite another. I don't want you to avoid other dogs because of this fear. Do what you can for yourself and your dog to have a positive experience.

October 10th, 2005, 12:18 PM
Hi all, said I would keep you updated. Finnegan had her first "date" in the park with two other dogs and did really well. Callie is a ten year old springer spaniel who just sniffed with Finnegan and wasn't interested - neither was Finnegan but Ruby - an 18 month old springer was just a bouncing ball of fur and Finnegan became one as well. They played well, chased each other and were great friends within minutes of meeting. I must admit I think I am the nervous player, I am afraid of the dogs getting hurt or bitten but I will have to learn to relax (maybe have nice shot of Baileys before taking Finnegan for a walk - sounds good to me). Well until the next encounter and thanks to all for the advice.

October 10th, 2005, 12:26 PM
That's wonderful, envolve yourself with things that will help to develop confidence with your handling skills.