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SOCIALIZING YOUR GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG
Socialization is basically the very lengthy (life-long) desensitization process of exposing your puppy to every new sound, sight, and situation possible. To eliminate any adverse reaction and have your dog view these occurrences as normal, and non-threatening, and non-exciting.


The ultimate goal of socialization is to be able to take your dog any place, any situation, and have him stay calm, relaxed and confident. Over-excitement, anxiety, hyperactivity are all unwanted reactions in a properly socialized dog. It can be done, but this desensitization process does not have an ending, it is something that must be continued every day of your dog's life.

Before that scares you, I'd like you to note that it really is not as hard, or time-consuming as one might think. This is an essential part of responsible dog ownership and every dog should be socialized extensively.
  • A well socialized dog can be taken everywhere (allowable by law/regulations). Under socialized dogs are hazards in more ways than just knocking somebody down through over-exuberance. A poorly socialized dog is an unpredictable animal when placed in a new, potentially frightening situation. He may bite, he may run away and be injured. He may cause injuries to others around him.
  • A poorly socialized reflects badly on dog owners everywhere, and due to just such an image, many dog owners are penalized by restrictive laws and limits. One bad owner WILL spoil the whole bunch. Do YOUR part and properly socialize your dog!
 
How to Socialize

The very first step, regardless of whether your dog is a puppy newly vaccinated, or an adult dog you've acquired, is enrolling in obedience classes that focus on positive training methods. These classes benefit dogs at any age, and are an important step in socialization and developing a bond between dog and you, the handler.

 
The Next Step
Arm yourself with treats, and off you go. Take your dog out to walk the streets, let him experience cars driving by (safely on leash, of course), people walking past, and the noises of everyday life. Praise and reward any wanted reaction (such as sniffing, walking calmly, sitting politely) and ignore all undesirable reactions (jumping, leash pulling, barking, showing fear), while redirecting attention to yourself, and have him focus on something different.

It is very important to remember to praise and reward as soon as the unwanted behavior stops, but also be very careful to not accidentally reward the unwanted as well.

Take your dog with you everywhere. The ultimate goal of socialization is to have a dog you can take into any awkward, noisy, or crowded area, and he will still behave, and be calm, and relaxed. By continuing this throughout his life, your dog will gain confidence, and keep a steady head wherever he is.

 
Socializing your German shepherd means introducing him as a puppy to all the people, places, and things he might run into as an adult dog so that they seem familiar and don’t scare him.

The crucial period for socialization is between 7 and 14 weeks of age, although the process should continue throughout puberty and young adulthood. Talk to your vet about when it’s safe to begin socializing your particular dog.
 
When socializing your German shepherd, be sure to make each new object and situation fun.
Socialize YOUR DOG to children under close supervision, reminding them never to tease him, pull his ears or tail, approach him when he’s sleeping, take his toys or food, or stare into his eyes.
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