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Too late to socialize??

December 13th, 2005, 12:35 AM
Ok, so Buster is over 2 years old and I've had him for a little less than a year. Same as a lot of rescues, he was never properly socialized as a pup. He isn't fond of other dogs (unfortunate Boxer trait).

I've slowly introduced him to a few dogs (friends dogs) and he DOES after the first 15 minutes, relax and start playing with the dogs. So I thought it might be a good idea to start taking him to the dog park, so he can learn to play with other dogs.

Now, I don't want to start a whole 'DOG PARK -- good or bad?' thread, because it's been done to death. The Dog park near our house isn't very busy -- there's always just 2 or 3 other dogs there. So I thought it would be a good place to take him.
I've been keeping him muzzled at the dog park, to avoid any unfortunate incidents.

It's happened a few times (we've only been to the park like a dozen times) that he just fights with everyone right off the bat, so I usually just take him home (I'm trying to teach him that bad doggy manners = no more play).

But today, he was playing REALLY well, until a lab tried to mount him. They fought and he got bit. Nothing serious, just a little puncture wound. But now I'm wondering if I should just give up on the whole dog park thing?! Is it too late to socialize him? I just want him to learn to play with other dogs so we can bring him to BBQ's and stuff next summer.

And here's what's weird about Buster's behavior: he REALLY hates Golden Retrievers!? And even more weird : he particularly can't stand the submissive ones. If a Golden lies on his back to show submission, he won't leave it alone -- ever!

Sorry for long ranting post -- it's late and I've been studying all day. So here's my question to you, O' Great Board of Knowledge, is it too late to socialize my 2 year old Boxer?

December 13th, 2005, 02:09 AM
Yeah, some doggies get what I call "search images" for certain breeds after a traumatic event with one... Boo can't handle rotties, brown akitas or big really, really furry black dogs...

I think you're better off making play dates with dog people you know so that you're one on one. You'd be more able to see the signs and step in before anything happens.

By bringing him to a dog park when he's not comfortable and you don't know the dogs, you risk making him worse socially. You need to find one dog that he gets along with well and stick with that for a while and then move on to another one. I think that would be the best way, but it would be hard to find the other doggy...

December 13th, 2005, 02:28 AM
It's never too late to work on any behavioral issue. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks, you just have to know how to go about it.

I think you're taking it too fast. I'd go back to the controlled play dates until he is relaxed ALL the time--not just after 15 minutes or so. I would get him very comfortable with a handful of play-date doggies and get him fully obedience trained when distracted by a playmate before I would even worry about the next step.

And not all dogs are dog park material--some just do better with on-leash walks instead.

December 13th, 2005, 02:39 AM
Oh, I agree with the time limit- don't wait for it to go bad. Leave with good memories...:)

December 13th, 2005, 08:00 AM
I agree with what Prin and shannon said.

I would definately stick to controlled play dates and not the dog park.

You need to start off slowly with him.And since he is a rescue,you really don't know what he went through in his past home/s.But you already know he wasn't properly socialized.

I would also talk to a trainer.

Because he isn't fond of other dogs is not what I would call a Boxer trait.I know many Boxers who are great with other dogs.There are 4 Boxers that hang out at the off leash park by our SPCA.They are great with the other dogs.And even my dog.Not that I bring him there much...He has his own "friends" he hangs out with...LOL

December 13th, 2005, 06:53 PM
Oh, and its not that he really hates submissive dogs - though he acts like he does. The 'omega' behavior in a submissive dog can trigger severe displays of aggression in certain dogs.
Ever remember being kinda mean to the shy, subservient kid in school? It's part of the hierarchal behavior in social structures.