Today I brought Gordon (10 weeks) to a puppy play group. It was at a doggie daycare so it was supervised and the dogs there ranged from 10 weeks to 6 months. I have a couple of questions about it though.
Most of the dogs there seemed to be hitting the 6 month mark, there were probably 20 dogs and only about 5 were the same age as Gordon. There was one dog (6 month old) that kept following Gordon around and any time Gordon stood still this dog would mount him. I had to keep pulling him off of Gordon but Gordon would actually run by this dog and try to get him to chase him. Then there was another lab who was 16 weeks who every time Gordon came near him this dog would bite Gordon on the back...not hard more playful but at one point he pinned him to the ground and Gordon did finally get upset and tried to fight back. Is there anything more than pulling the dogs off each other that I could do to try and stop these behaviors?
I guess I thought that most of the puppies would be a little bit younger but Gordon seemed to hold his own and other than the above he seemed to interact well with the other dogs. The setup is much like a dog park with a double door fenced entrance into the large open room.
I know it is not a good thing to bring a puppy to a dog park so I thought this would be a better alternative. I want to make sure that Gordon gets a lot of socialization but I am not sure if this is the best way as I want to make sure that it is a positive experience.
We go to a puppy play group to and it is one of Cooper's favourite things to do. ;D
Is it just one time a week they do it or is there different times for different sized or aged dogs?
The one here has three groups, first one for puppies and small sized dogs, second for 3-4 month olds, and third for older and larger dogs. When we got Cooper he was 5 months but the trainer suggested bringing him to the second one because he had not been around many dogs and just to get him used to it. The first time he was a little shy and took about half an hour before he would play, then the next time he was loving it (he was the biggest one there) so she suggested we move on to the next group. We tried that and it was just too much for him, he just lied down by the door the entire hour so now we've moved back to the second group but stay for the beginning of third one to let him get used to it. Usually there are only about 4-8 dogs at any group and the trainer is there to watch and break up fights if they happen. I would ask the person supervising if what is happening with your puppy is normal, they should hopefully have a good knowledge of body language and how dogs interact and can help you. I asked my trainer to point out to me if Cooper was starting to shows signs of certain behaviours so that I can learn what to look for, sometimes it can be the tiniest thing that can tell you if they are having fun or if it's getting out of control.
Maybe you could even get the numbers of some of the other owners who have puppies the same age and arrange your own play dates in a safe environment.
I would guess that what was going on is pretty normal, I've heard many people say that you should let the dogs work it all out, but I do know that there are times when it can get out of hand and that's where the supervisors be watching for and can then separate the dogs. Sometimes a quick calming down period is all they need to play nice again.
It's great that you are working on the socialization, I never realized how important it was until I started reading about it, and it is much harder when you have to worry about their health because there so young.
they have different groups like adult and adolescent but they consider the puppy group 6 months and under. There is a small dog area but being a lab he was already 3x the size of the dogs in the small area so he couldn't go in there.
After our experience with Ernie I am a little hypersensitive to Gordon growling or biting although I know that this normal puppy behavior and something I need to overcome in my own mind. I just don't want to put Gordon into a situation where he has a bad experience but at the same time I know it is very important to socialize him
I don't know if you remember me. I used to post under Jan Elaine. Anyway I lost my last lab, Abby, to the same circumstances as your Ernie. I too am constantly second guessing Maggies behavior. Also praying to get past the point where Abby really turned for the worst. Maggie has play dates now with friends older dogs but I too am looking for a puppy play group as I think that is important too. Anyway, just wanted you to know that I understand where you are coming from!
MagsMom.....thanks for your post! I do remember you and it really helps to be able to talk with folks who have gone through the same experience. Gordon is such a awesome little boy and very different from Ernie but every once in a while he will get a little to rough with a nip or a little growl while playing and I find myself wondering if it something I am doing. It is so hard not to second guess yourself but I just take a deep breath and tell myself that I need to be fair to Gordon b/c he is not the same pup that hurt me.
Gordon is such a cutie! I know you are enjoying him! Maggie is very different from Abby as well. She is such a snuggler which I love but she too will sometimes growl a certain way that takes me back. I confess to getting scared again once but like you remembered she was a different dog. And they are puppies so they will growl, bark, and bite. My hands look like they lost a war with a rose bush! : I am working on that but she forgets! I hope to start her in classes soon but am waiting until she has her last set of shots. Have you been really protective of Gordon since you got him? I think I have been over doing it a bit. After Abby I am just so determined to keep Mags healthy and happy. I am trying to relax though because I'm afraid she will need the "Dog Whisperer" if I don't! HA! Anyway best wishes for you and Gordon. It will be interesting keeping up with our posts over the years!
Guthrie went to a puppy socialization class too but I waited till he was finished his final shots at 16 weeks. He was one of those big puppies and I was nervous at first about it because some people were there with puppies that were only 8 weeks old. Guthrie was a bit unsure about the whole thing but he quickly warmed up to everyone and was playing and having a grand old time by the second class. Because he was bigger than most of the other puppies I was worried that he may hurt one of them unintentionally. I actually kept a leash on him so that the trainer or I could grab him if he started getting "butt tucky" and out of control.
I would be very careful with Gordon at such a young age...you don't want him getting hurt. It is those bigger labbies that you really need to watch!!!
By our third class Guthrie was just too big so we were moved to the adult socialization. It consisted of 5 adult dogs and 4 large breed puppies. Guthrie did fine for several weeks but then he started getting ganged up on by a Cane Corso and a Rotty puppy so we dropped out. I am thinking about taking him back because he is dying to have a play date.