If you want to know how to socialize a german shepherd, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’ve got a puppy or an adult it doesn’t matter. This guide is going to tell you everything you need to know to socialize both.
Socializing A German Shepherd Puppy
First of all, we’re going to talk about everything you need to do to socialize a german shepherd puppy.
Puppies tend to be easier to socialize as they’re still trying to form a view of the world. Whereas older dogs are a little bit more set in their ways (although they can still be socialized with enough time.)
Why Socialize Your Puppy?
Socialization is important in puppies as it’s going to teach them how to react to the world. It can often stop them being fearful of things they have no need to be fearful of, and wary of things they should be.
German shepherds in particular need to be socialized well as they’re bred to be aloof. Without proper socialization then the chances of behavioral problems and aggression are going to be a lot higher.
In fact, according to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior “Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.”
(Have you ever wondered whether german shepherds are aggressive to humans?)
When Should You Start Socializing Your German Shepherd Puppy?
The first 3 months of your puppies life are the best time to socialize them. Once these three months are up they’re going to start becoming more cautious of things.
However, between 12-18 weeks, they can still be socialized, but as each week passes, they’re going to become more and more set in their ways.
If you’ve purchased your puppy from a reputable breeder, then they should have been socializing your puppies in their first few weeks of life.
This typically includes letting them see strangers, other dogs, and sometimes other animals. As well as encouraging them to approach strangers of their own free will.
Socializing A Puppy Without Vaccinations
When your puppy is young the chances are they’re not going to have had their vaccinations yet. So there needs to be a compromise between socializing them and keeping them safe.
According to Web MD, you should still socialize your puppy before they are vaccinated. Because once they’ve had their vaccinations, it’s extremely hard to socialize them properly.
Here are some of the main ways you can keep your puppy safe from illnesses before they’re fully vaccinated.
- Make sure they’re not mixing with dogs whose vaccination status you don’t know.
- Never take them to areas that dogs could have fouled or walked in.
- You can introduce them to puppies and dogs you know have been vaccinated.
- If your puppy doesn’t mind being picked up, you can carry them around busy areas, so lots of people can get to know them.
- If possible, take your puppy to a scout or brownies meeting, this is a great way for them to meet lots of children. (However, if they seem uncomfortable, make sure you don’t stay.)
How To Socialize Your German Shepherd Puppy With Humans
When you’re going to socialize your german shepherd puppy with humans, you’re not going to use the same technique as you would with animals.
So here are all the different things you’ll need to do to successfully socialize your german shepherd puppy with humans!
Make Sure You’re Taking Them On Daily Walks
One of the easiest ways to successfully socialize your german shepherd puppy is to take them on daily walks. This way, they’ll have a whole spectrum of different experiences which is vital in the early days.
When you’re socializing your puppy, essentially, you want them to become used to as many noises, sights, smells and interactions with different things as possible. And the more exposed they are to these things, the more used to them they’ll become.
If you’re worried about taking them places when they haven’t been vaccinated, then you can always pick them up and carry them around.
Actively Seek Out New Experiences
Taking them on daily walks is great, but even that may not be enough sometimes. As well as daily walks you should also go out of your way to introduce them to new experiences.
So try not to take them the same route every day. Take them to new locations and if possible try traveling with them in the car as well.
Remember the trick is to get them used to as many things as possible.
Most importantly, make sure they experience lots of different people. Look for people with hats or sunglasses on, people holding an umbrella, old people, big people, and any other kind of variation you can think of.
It’s amazing what dogs pick up on. For example, one of my dogs used to bark whenever she saw a bald person, and it took us a long time to get her to unlearn the behavior.
(Did you know socialising can make german shepherds excellent guard dogs?)
Make Sure It’s A Positive Experience
Whenever your german shepherd experiences something new, make sure it’s positive. Give them lots of praise and every once in a while a treat as well.
This way they’ll come to think every time something new happens it’s going to be positive for them. So even if they come across something they’ve never come across before, they’re still going to react in a friendly way.
Also, make sure that you’re not getting stressed either. Dogs have evolved to read your emotions and understand you. So if they feel like you’re getting stressed or anxious, they’re going to get stressed and anxious as well.
Get Your Family Involved As Well
You shouldn’t just socialise your german shepherd on your own either. It can also be a good idea to let your family take them out on their own and in a group as well.
And going one step further, when your german shepherd becomes used to that you can let a close friend take them out. By doing this, they’re not going to rely on one person too much, and they’ll also understand that anything can happen no matter who they’re with.
(Does your german shepherd like to cuddle? Or are they just humoring you?)
What If Your German Shepherd Puppy Is Scared During Socialization
There are sometimes where your german shepherd is going to be scared when socializing. It could be a loud noise going off next to them, or a type of person they haven’t seen before. Whatever it is, how you handle it is going to affect their future.
If you notice they seem scared, the first thing you should do is move them out of the situation. You may think that leaving them in the situation is going to help them overcome their fear, but 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t
And now not only do you have a scared dog, but you’re also going to have a dog that may always be scared of the same situation.
Once you’ve moved them out of the situation, the next step is to start introducing them slowly back to it.
For example, if you notice they get scared every time they see a bus, you can take them down a road where they’re close enough to hear a bus quietly, but not somewhere it’s so loud they’ll hear it again.
When the bus goes past give them lots of praise and a treat. Now keep doing this, moving them closer and closer each time and eventually they’ll get so used to the bus it doesn’t bother them at all.
Just remember, that if you do have a shy puppy, you’ll have to spend more time with them. They normally pick this nervousness up from their mothers. But with the right amount of care and training you can socialize it out of them.
(Is your german shepherd barking and you don’t know why? Check out this article.)
Introducing Shy Puppies To Other People Or Dogs
Introducing shy german shepherd pups to other people or dogs takes time too. You may think it’s a good idea to throw them into the deep end, but this is one of the worst things you can do.
Instead, you should let them move at their own pace. Find someone that’s willing to meet your german shepherd on their terms. They’ll need to avoid eye contact with them, and wait for the pup to approach them.
You should also do the same with new dogs. Find a dog that’s very patient and kind and then introduce them to your puppy.
In both cases, any sort of positive reaction your german shepherd has should be rewarded with a treat and praise.
(Are you curious to know whether a male or female german shepherd is better?)
Final Tips On Socializing Your Puppy
Here are some final tips that you should remember when socializing your puppy.
- Look for signs that your puppy is anxious or scared. Some signs include not making eye contact, panting, yawning, pinning their ears back, and making their bodies as small as possible.
- You should avoid picking your puppy up and passing them around. A lot of dogs don’t like this. Just because they’re small enough to do it, it doesn’t mean you should.
- When possible, you shouldn’t give your pup food when introducing them to people. If you do this they may begin to expect it and beg.
- One of the easiest ways you can tell your german shepherd is feeling confident is when they actively walk towards new things.
(Here’s a handy article that will teach you exactly how to socialise your german shepherd.)
How To Socialize A German Shepherd Puppy With Other Dogs
Next, you’re going to need to learn how to socialize your pup with other dogs. However, just remember, that before your pup has been socialized that you don’t introduce them to dogs that haven’t been vaccinated.
Here are some of the best things you can do.
Watch How Your Pup Is Reacting
The most important thing you can do is watch your dog’s reactions. If your puppy is scared or anxious you need to notice this and remove them from the situation. Unfortunately, other dogs may be too energetic or unaware of how yours is feeling.
This could end up with your pup becoming scared and aggressive towards a certain breed of dog or all dogs in the future.
Take Them To Puppy Classes
One of the best places to take your german shepherd is puppy classes. This way they’re going to meet lots of new dogs as well as lots of new people.
This will help them become used to the many different personality types of other dogs. And most importantly, your german shepherd will also learn lots of commands they need to know.
If your german shepherd is unsure of other dogs then you can always use treats to condition their behavior. Every time they act in a positive way towards a dog then give them a treat. This could be incredibly small actions as well. Such as walking towards one, looking at one without barking, etc.
Be Careful Around Other Dogs
This one’s a bit more common sense. If there’s a big dog, then make sure you and your german shepherd approach with caution. No matter how well-tempered a large dog is, if they get excited they could end up hurting your pup.
Socializing An Adult German Shepherd
If you’ve rescued a german shepherd, or you haven’t socialized your own yet, then nows the perfect time to start.
Socializing an adult german shepherd is going to be very similar to socializing a pup. However, here are a few more things you’re going to need to do.
Use A Muzzle
If your german shepherd hasn’t been socialized before, then it can often be a good idea to use a muzzle. Because they’re older and bigger they can actually cause some real damage if they wanted too.
But the real use of the muzzle is the fact it’s going to help keep your dog and everyone else calmer. If your german shepherd starts barking or becoming aggressive then the other dog may as well.
When this happens you and the other owner will both become stressed. However, you can avoid most of this by placing a muzzle on your dog.
Consult A Professional
One of the best things you can do is consult a professional. If your german shepherd constantly acts aggressive or isn’t socialized at all then a professional will know exactly what to do and how to handle it.
How To Tell If Your German Shepherd Isn’t Socialized
Just because you adopted an adult german shepherd, doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t been socialized already. In some cases, the job may have already been done for you. Here’s how to tell if they haven’t been socialized enough.
They Act Aggressively
One of the most common ways to tell if your german shepherd hasn’t been socialized is by how they act. If your german shepherd acts aggressively towards new things, then it’s one of the most common ways of knowing.
This aggression is normally caused by fear, however, sometimes it can also be territorial.
Raising Their Hackles
Does your germans shepherds hair stand up on end when they notice new things? Whether it’s people, dogs, or inanimate objects this is often a sign of a lack of socialization.
It’s often combined with backing up and acting defensively.
Nervous On Walks
Nervousness and skittishness are also tell-tale signs that show when a dog hasn’t been socialized.
A lack of socialization doesn’t always show itself in a negative way. Sometimes your german shepherd may be overly excitable too.
While you know it’s nothing to worry about, other people don’t. And they could become worried about their dog if they see a german shepherd jumping around.
As you can see, socializing your german shepherd isn’t hard. And if you take your german shepherd out and socialize them every day, they’re going to grow up to be happy approachable dogs.
In the case of older dogs, sometimes it’s best to consult with a professional as they can often have more underlying issues.
And lastly, if you liked this article check out the rest of the website. Otherwise have a great day.