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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Question about Socializing Puppy

Greetings,
I've been lurking on this forum for a couple months, learning a lot about this breed, and now have some question I haven't quite seen addressed yet. We have a 19 week puppy named Oscar (see my other thread for pictures). We got Oscar between the holiday's at 10 weeks and he has been well socialized with people. We have 3 children and all their friends and friend's parents, and an au-pair and her friends, so that hasn't been an issue.

The problem so far has been socializing with other dogs. We waited until his second round of puppy vaccinations, and his rabies vaccine in mid January before really introducing him to other dogs. The first new dog was a friend's Shi-mix that's about 2 years old, and ~20 lbs. Unfortunately, this dog's first reaction was to jump on Oscar which scared him into my lap. After that their dog was more interested in exploring our house than playing with Oscar, and Oscar had no interest either. Since then, we've been on a long walk with this other dog, and Oscar slowly warmed-up to him. Other casual encounters have all been with much larger dogs, and Oscar has generally been very fearful, staying close to me with his tail between his legs.

Three weeks ago we started puppy kindergarten. The free socialization period has been mostly disastrous so far. The class is primarily labs and lab mixes with a terrier and a very small German shorthair. The first week Oscar started well, but then one of the hyper lab mixes started getting rough and rolled him over. Luckily the trainer quickly intervened as Oscar had his teeth bared and was about to defend himself probably with bad results (the lab was at least 25 lbs.). After that he spent the rest of the socialization period in an expen with the 8 week old small German shorthaired pointer. They got along well, so I was hopeful. Week 2 was horrible. After 30 seconds loose, the labs began trying to rough-house with Oscar, and he ran with his tail between his legs and jumped up on my lap. After the labs left, Oscar returned to the floor and sought out the German shorthair. They were getting along mostly well, until the terrier came back from rough-housing with the labs. Oscar ran from the terrier (which is actually smaller than him) with his tail between his legs. Shortly after that, I saw him panting and recognized the stress signal. I went over to settle him and while I had my hands near him, the terrier came back, and Oscar lashed out and bit me. I'm not upset about this. It's my fault. What I'm trying to figure out is how I get positive socialization experiences for Oscar. I don't want him to be so fearful of other dogs that he runs and then lashes out when cornered. I've talked to the training school, and they want me to try again this week, but not get involved. They want me to let Oscar work it out, but I don't see that going well. They did suggest maybe some more one-on-one time, since he seems to do better with that, warming up to other dogs on his own terms rather than being chased down. That's fine as long as one of the other owners wants that for their dog as well.

So my questions are these. What should I do? Do I let him alone with all the other dogs, and trust the trainer will break-up anything before it gets too rough? Do I try the one-on-one if another owner is willing? Could some of this be caused by his age and going through a fearful phase? What other things can I be doing to get him more socialization experiences with other dogs? I'm open to suggestion.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to set the stage properly and preempt some obvious questions. Sorry also if this should be in the puppy forum, but I wanted to get a wide audience.

Thanks,
Kevin aka Oscar's Dad
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 02:03 PM
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I don't think it does anything positive to go to a puppy class with larger dogs who are out of control. Try to find other Havanese owners near you that might have play dates.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 02:10 PM
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These dogs are too overwhelming for Oscar and will just teach him to fear other dogs. I'm not an expert but I don't think letting Oscar work it out himself is a good idea, since his fear has already gotten to a point where this will not happen in a good way, as you mention. Find some small, gentle dogs and go slow with reintroducing him to doggie play. Socializing a dog to other dogs does not mean we should expect them to play with every dog, especially the ones who cant play nice. I wish I'd known these things when socializing my lab, because he has become somewhat fearful of other dogs, I believe in part because I let him socialize with aggressive and bad players when young.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Tom,

Thanks for the reply. That was my first thought as well, but he's eventually going to have to learn to get along with bigger dogs, since there are a lot of them in our neighborhood. Do you think that he'll eventually outgrow this fear if he first has positive experiences with other Hav's? The training school did offer to switch him to another class that's starting soon that has smaller breeds, but that class time is very inconvenient for our family. I'm still going to go to the class for the training advice, but may forgo the socialization at the end.

Kevin
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 02:11 PM
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I agree with Tom.

while there is no wrong style of play, the key is to find pups that play in a similar way and energy level to your pup. Labs and lab mixes are notoriously high energy over the top players, and dominating sometimes in play style.

speaking as a big dog owner (over 100 lbs ) and as a small dog owner, I think it's a line of crap that 'the dogs will tell each other when to stop'. when it's 30 lbs against 4 lbs, really? yeah, it's not going to happen.

One puppy class I went to she had the littles play together and the big pups stayec on leash, and didn't play. then just the big pups got to play together and the littles stay on their owners laps.

Now that my little guy is all grown up, he is fine with any size dogs, but he has a special zeal for playing and wrestling with dogs his own size.

I am always weary when a new big dog wants to greet mine little guy.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 02:17 PM
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I had some of these same issues with Atticus. The puppy class had one small dog and all lab mixes. Atticus got stressed and I decided to not let him off leash during playtime although the trainer wanted me to. He got rolled and was unhappy the whole class so I just had him walk around the back of the room and watch etc . As time (6 week class) went on he got more comfortable with the space, barking dogs etc and I let him drag his leash to interact by the end. Do what you feel is comfortable and safe. I have made an effort to meet people with small dogs and have play dates with them. He is now almost a year old and much more confident So I guess my advise is to be ok with taking your time on this. Good Luck

Jody ,lucky Mom of Atticus
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OscarsDad View Post
Tom,

Thanks for the reply. That was my first thought as well, but he's eventually going to have to learn to get along with bigger dogs, since there are a lot of them in our neighborhood. Do you think that he'll eventually outgrow this fear if he first has positive experiences with other Hav's? The training school did offer to switch him to another class that's starting soon that has smaller breeds, but that class time is very inconvenient for our family. I'm still going to go to the class for the training advice, but may forgo the socialization at the end.

Kevin
I would STRONGLY advise you to switch to the other class. Even if it's inconvenient, it is a small sacrifice toward making your dog a well adjusted, happy canine citizen. I agree that you don't want him traumatized... Kodi was afraid of big retriever puppies that bat with their front feet too. (fortunately, Labs tend to grow out of that with time too!!) OTOH, it is VERY important for him to have the opportunity to play with, and learn from other PUPPIES. It's not the same experience playing with older dogs. Vry often, even if they don't scarethe puppy, they let the puppy get away with things that they wouldn'tlet an olrdog do. Then when the puppy grows up and triesthe samebehavior with another adult dog, he can get nailed.

I am a strong believer that putting as much time and effort as necessary into early socialization, both with people AND with dogs is a real investment in your puppy's future life (and yours, since you'll have to livewith him!). A well socialized dog is just SO much more fun. You can take them with you everywhere, and know they will behave appropriately. In the long run, you'll never regret the effort you put in in these early weeks.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Karen,

Given some of your other posts recently, I expected this response from you, and I mostly agree. The problem is that the training school (and it is a VERY reputable school with many good recommendations) only knew of 3 other small dogs in that other class at this time, 2 Dachshunds and another breed which I forget now, and there were Labs in that class as well. I could end up taking that class only to discover it's no better. Then I'm inconvenienced, and not helping the situation. I totally agree that I need to make an effort to socialize him with other dogs / puppies. That's why I'm posting the question. I'm concerned enough that I want to make it work, but it needs to be right for everyone.

Kevin
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 03:47 PM
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Hi Kevin,
Timmy and Oscar sound like they could be twins! Timmy is just about 17 weeks old, loves people but is also very scared of dogs. I too have Timmy in puppy class, this was our third week and I feel it's been a great experience. We have 5 black labs, a cockapoo and another small mixed breed. Our class is broken up between more formal training together on leash and playtime too but our trainer doesn't put the labs with the smaller puppies. The last free play she brings in her older dogs to hang out with the pups. Timmy has never initiated play with anyone at class but I found if I ignored him and didn't let him sit between my legs, as my trainer suggested, he would eventually have to deal with this which he has and last week his tail was finally up on his back. I have worked out a schedule to walk with some neighborhood dogs a couple times a day and one of my neighbors was nice enough to line up some hanging out 1 on 1 time with her 10 year old Retreiver who is such a sweetheart. Towards the end of our time yesterday Timmy was bouncing on her tail as it was wagging. I am also meeting up with a forum member next week for a playdate with her Havs. I think some dogs just prefer the company of people, but I totally agree with you that not having them scared of other dogs is key. My trainer just told me that I need to be hyper vigiliant on making Timmy's experiences with other dogs outside of class really positive ones and that in time, with patience he should get over his fear. I do think though that if he was left with the labs in our class he would not be progressing. Keep me posted on Oscar's progress, believe me I know your concerns!

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 05:39 PM
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too bad you had a rough experience. It's up to the trainer and owner of the dog to give feedback to overexhuberant pups. There is rarely any real aggression in this age bracket. And yes if this is not controlled it can cause a pup to become fearful. It' s important to try to socialize to larger dogs when ever you can. This fear can get worse if you don't work on it. Walks can become a nightmare if your dog reacts to large dogs down the road. Here is what good puppy classes should encorporate.

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