Need some advice on socializing
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Thread: Need some advice on socializing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    DefaultNeed some advice on socializing

    I joined the site a few days ago, and not to long after adopting Jake, a 4yo Chocolate Lab. He is a great dog, listens to his commands for the most part, he know heel, stay, sit, back, just a wide variety of commands. What I am concerned about is that I have tried taking him to a dog park to try and let him socialize with other dogs. But as we enter the dog park, of course all the other dogs want to check out the new guy. I think Jake either gets scared or nervous at the approach of these dogs. He has snapped at them, and at the point I remove him from the situation. I don't want him to hurt another dog, or person for that matter because he is scared and/or nervous.

    So my question is, what would be the best way for me to socialize him with other dogs?

    The funny thing is my family has a Chihuahua, and we introduced them.* They are fine together, but Jake does bare his teeth and growls a little at Bandit at various points, but for the most part they get along.

    Any suggestions?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    If you just got him, I'd give him some time to adjust to you and his new family/house before broadening his horizons too much. He may be feeling nervous by so much change, and that could cause him to get snarky.

    I would take him on lots of walks so that he gets to know and trust you. When you and he are comfortable with each other and ready to meet more dogs, I'd suggest a one-on-one playdate with a dog of a similar size with a laid-back temperment in a more private environment. That way Jake won't be bombarded or overwhelmed by all of the dogs, smells, people, etc.

    Above all- be patient. It takes rescues several months to completely settle in and gain some confidence. Make sure to reinforce good behavior, do not reinforce/encourage fearful behavior, and let him establish himself as a happy boy.

    Thanks for rescuing a Lab. It breaks my heart to see and hear the stories of the unlucky ones. I can't wait to see pictures!! Good luck!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    Do you know anything about Jake's previous history? *Did he get along with other dogs then?

    It's dangerous to throw a bunch of unfamilar dogs together especially without knowing if they have doggy social skills. *Unfortunately the time for learning doggy social skills is long past for Jake so he either has them or not. *At this point, all you can do is determine if he likes other dogs, and if so, what types of dogs he likes/dislikes (may prefer females, may prefer smaller dogs, may prefer quiet playing dogs, etc). *Personally I prefer doggy daycare to dog parks. *Dogs that attend day care have been assessed for temperment and are approved for doggy play. *I've seen people show up at dog parks and just drop off their dogs or bring in unruly, aggressive dogs. * We do go to dog parks but I go during off peak hrs and try to stay in an area where there are only a few dogs.

    You don't say how long you've had Jake but I would focus on his relationship with you at first (for several months). *He needs time to bond to you, learn to trust you and know that you won't let him get hurt or put him in dangerous situations, and needs to learn the household routines (when you go to work, when you eat, when you go to sleep). *I'd also start with a basic obedience class. *Not only is this a chance for you to bond, it's an opportunity for Jake to be around other dogs in a controlled situation. *The instructor will be able to help you identify if Jake is dog friendly or has issues that need to be addressed. *From this class, you may also find one or 2 people that live close to you whose dogs Jake seems drawn to. *See if these people are willing to meet Jake for playdates.

    On a side note, please be very careful putting Jake and Bandit together. *Jake could kill Bandit in an instant with a quick bite and shake. *I would let him test his social skills on a dog that could actually hold his own if a fight broke out.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    Thanks RttnLabs and Larry,

    It will be a week on saturday that I picked up Jake. I know that he will need time to adjust and get used to things here. I do have friends that have labs that are the same age, and would be willing to set up playdates. Jake has a great time going on walks, he does great on the leash, playing catch and the like.

    I got Jake for his original owner, who had trained him and gone through a lot with him. I am not sure how much interaction he has had with other dogs.

    Before I adopted him, I did take him to a dog park not to far from his previous owners house. He did great, played catch, checked out other dogs, let other dogs check him out. But when I got him home and took him to a dog park close to here he snapped at another dog. So I don't know what the big difference is. As far as I know he had never been to the dog park before, so the way he acted there gave me a positive feeling.

    Anyhow thanks for help and advice.

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakes Owner
    Before I adopted him, I did take him to a dog park not to far from his previous owners house. He did great, played catch, checked out other dogs, let other dogs check him out. But when I got him home and took him to a dog park close to here he snapped at another dog. So I don't know what the big difference is. As far as I know he had never been to the dog park before, so the way he acted there gave me a positive feeling.

    From your statements, it truly seems to me that Jake is just worried and insecure. He's in a new place with a new person he's not sure if he can trust. Give him another month with you and maybe set up a play date with your lab friends. I bet he'll have improved greatly.

    Also, rottnlab's advice on getting him into an obedience class is an excellent suggestion. Even if he knows the commands, it wouldn't hurt to brush up on them, and it'll help establish your dominant position.

  8. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    Thanks Larry that makes me feel better.

    I had a feeling that is what it might be, but still want to be on the safe side.

    I am looking into some classes. A couple of people I know told me to check out PetSmart or PetCo, and their classes.

  9. #7
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    I got Jake for his original owner, who had trained him and gone through a lot with him. I am not sure how much interaction he has had with other dogs.
    Your first experience in the dog park sounds favorable. It may be only the anxiety over change of custody.

    I agree with the suggestions of others butwould add one thing.

    Scott & Fuller ("Genetics & the Social Behavior of the Dog" summarizes their work) did a series of experiments on 5 different dog breeds over a 20 year span. One of the most important things they investigated was the role of early experience in developing a dog's later social behavior with people and with other dogs.

    There's a critical window roughly between 5 weeks and 16 weeks age during which a dog MUST be exposed and interact with whomever or whichever species you want them to be social with.

    Puppies not given enough handling and play with people during this time and which associate primarily with other dogs may always be somewhat distant (shy, fear, fear aggreesion) and deficient in their relations with people.

    Similarly, for enough play behavior with other dogs.

    2 Examples:
    A Lab owner brought his Lab to our weekly LabFests a number of times but eventually stopped coming after several months. His Lab wanted to play but didn't know how. He'd bark at the other Labs as if saying, "play with me, too" But he obviously didn't know how. I asked his owner about his early development and he had not been around other dogs during that critical phase.

    My beloved Bess (BF, AKC, bench line, 55 lbs., 1967-81) came to live with us at 5 weeks age -- far too young, I know now. She did not have any other dogs to play with during that phase and it marked her considerably. She refused to play with other dogs and I always felt she considered herself a small person with more hair. When another dog approached her, she'd look at me quizzically, I thought, as if to say "what's this creature doing here?"

    So you may want to ask that previous owner about that.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

  10. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    If he did ok before, just take it slow. Dogs at a dog park can be rude and in your face too quickly. Arranging play sessions sounds like the way to go for awhile.

  11. #9
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
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    Lawrence (ex-Topeka), KS
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    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    I agree with FieldLabLover. Try the playdate with a mellow Lab, one on one. AND, if that blind date isn't great, try different mellow Labs one on one.

    We've had over 200 Saturday meetings of our weekly LabFest -- anywhere from 3 to 12 Labs.

    My Puff (YF, AKC, field line, 63 lbs., dob: 8-'01) is a "Wuss" and almost every Lab's favorite.

    BUT, Labs are a lot like people -- we have friends and we have best friends.

    Puff's favorite is "Chase" and if Chase isn't there yet, Puff is continually looking down the entry way, scouting to see him. And Chase is much the same way. Chase (his name before he met Puff) likes to chase Puff and Puff likes to be chased. He's ALMOST as fast as Puff (he's the Lab capable of the highest top speed next to Puff of all Labs she's EVER met). They run, they neck-nibble, over and over the full hour -- primarily just the two of them. Other Labs may join in briefly but it's mainly those two whenever they're together.

    I'd taken Puff to our local Bark Park (its official name) maybe 8X and although many dogs invited Puff to play, she walked around as if stoned, never playing with any. A few weeks ago, our LabFest temporarily used the Bark Park for a Saturday LabFest and that was the only time I saw Puff play with other dogs -- Chase was there.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

  12. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    10

    DefaultRe: Need some advice on socializing

    Thanks Bob Pr. and FieldLabLover

    I think Jake just needs time to adjust, and he is getting that, I am not trying to put to much pressure on him right now to go above and beyond what he already knows. I use his commands, and he responds great.

    I took him to a dog park close to my house, that had two seperate sections, of course everyone was in the larger section, so I took Jake into the small section, and he didn't even bother with dogs that came to the fence to see what was going on. But he had a great time, he ran around, had a field day with all of the smells, played catch, all in all had a great time.

    I am looking in to taking him back to classes so he knows that I am in charge. And also to build trust with him, so he knows that I let anyone or anything harm him. So it is just a matter of time. Plus in a couple of weeks I will set up a play date with a friend of mine that has a 3yo yellow lab.

    Thanks for all the advice and info.

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