Socialization and the "friendly" off leash dog

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Postby JainDaugh » January 13th, 2006, 1:33 am

For as long as I have been around this breed (50 years), mixing one with ANY other dog was considered risky at best. And maybe that is one of the reasons these dogs have an appeal for me - able to be the only dog in the 'pack' (of humans). And seeing how I am more micro-social myself isolating a dog from other dogs didn't seem out of line.

Well things seem to have changed. With the breed being 'challenged' (BSL), isolation could be equated with aggression? Plus most of this breed's (responsible) owners live in more populated areas so if they are going to be able to take their dog off their own home base, the dog had better be stellar around other dogs. Yet the newly popular dog parks wouldn't be my choice for getting Strak acquainted with dog manners. Its not so much the dogs that I fear, its the air headed owners who think "friendly' means can turn loose without worry. Of course you know who would get blamed for any fighting! So that is out as an option all together.

Some folks do doggie day care which sounds good, but living 1+ hour from the nearest place that has such a facility puts a damper on that idea. Any other ideas I might consider?
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Postby satanscheerleader » January 13th, 2006, 1:44 am

To bad you weren't closer. I'd be all into letting him hang with one or two of the girls he might be compatable with for a romp in the yard. The only way I socialize my dogs outside of the pack is with someone whom I know and is like minded enough that they aren't going to have a hissy fit if a scrap breaks out, no matter what dog starts it, but instead be level headed AND GRAB THEIR DOG, so we can safely separate them. Which needless to say, isn't with very many people. Ya know..... realistically, Strak probably doesn't care that much. Would be nice for him to have a little girly friend to run around with though.
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Postby Maryellen » January 13th, 2006, 9:11 am

i started with rufus when he was younger, and took him to playdates with my trainers dog. as he got older i only let him socialize with dogs he grew up with and who were friendly dogs.. now he has a few dogs he will play with, plus whatever foster i bring around. i am also lucky that the doggy day care by me is pit savvy, and when he goes there they know that the pits are not to be let loose with any other dogs, and they do more leash interaction/walking stuff.. trying to find pit savvy people is hard now
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Postby mnp13 » January 13th, 2006, 10:19 am

Dog parks are a disaster waiting to happen... with any breed. You're right though, it's more the owners than the dogs.

Ruby is a solid, stable dog. She's pretty shy and doesn't like other dogs to get up in her face. She was rolled at about 6 months and I think that's part of it. Memorial Day 2005 at a dog show she was attacked out of nowhere by a completely out of control, 150 pound Central Asian Shepherd. It was quite some time before she was not aggressive to any big fuzzy dogs.

The problem is, most owners don't know that a sudden attack can perminantly change their dog; and if you tell them they don't believe you. Letting a dog off leash with a pack of other unknown dogs in an enclosed area is just begging for that to happen.

All that said, yes, I do let Ruby run loose in a couple different local parks. Her obedience is very good and she always has her RTC on anyway. I recall her if there are any off leash dogs in the area. If the other dog is on leash I just heel her and we walk away. We get the funniest reactions to that - the Pit Bull calmly walking next to me off leash while the Lab/Golden/ankle biter/whatever 'good' dog you can think of goes nuts at the end of its leash. It's sooooo satisfying!

Anyway, I think the notion that dogs need friends is another human trait pushed onto dogs. Yes, I think a few dogs for them to romp with is a good idea, but when you talk to some owners they seem to think that their dog needs an active social calendar. I don't think there is anything wrong with your dogs not haveing 'friends'. As long as he is polite and well mannered around strange dogs, what's the difference?

Maybe taking Strak to a regular park is an option for you? Dogs meeting on leash is always safer than off leash and you may find a few other responsible owners out there.
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Postby Marinepits » January 13th, 2006, 10:35 am

mnp13 wrote:The problem is, most owners don't know that a sudden attack can perminantly change their dog; and if you tell them they don't believe you. Letting a dog off leash with a pack of other unknown dogs in an enclosed area is just begging for that to happen.


Well said!
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Postby Maryellen » January 13th, 2006, 10:36 am

rufus would prefer to have no other dogs in the house so he could have all my attention to himself i think.... when ruby was over he and her played together very well.. it all depends on the owners and dogs Jain, you could do what mnp said, start out at regular parks.. you might find that he might not like to meet other dogs or he might enjoy it.. just make sure you read his body language.. he might be more interested in the smells of the park then anything else..
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Postby pibblegrl » January 13th, 2006, 11:31 am

I think, provided all shots are up-to-date, that a pet store is an ideal place to socialize dogs of all ages, also training classes.
Generally, you will find mostly well behaved dogs at pet stores. That is not to say that you won't run into the occasional pinhead (dog or owner) but for the most part it tends to be a good experience.

Just don't go if you here PETA will be there. :twisted:
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Postby JainDaugh » January 13th, 2006, 12:15 pm

Thanks for all your feedback. Parks aren't an option in my very rural area - dang it would be GRAND to bring Strak to your place SCL!!! I too would only do such an encounter with another knowledgable and 'with it' owner. I have met one such fellow here, but he works 6 days a week and spends the rest of the time with his 4 show dogs (pits). The hard call here is that Strak really goes whiney when he sees other dogs. He doesn't show any aggression, no hackles raised, barred teeth or growing sounds. I really think he just wants to PLAY! But his enthusisam could too easily be misinterrputed by another dog so one would have to watch like a hawk and be prepared to grab and drag apart. Strak did quite well at his mini-obedience class. He did show (play) interest in other dogs but settled down when told no. He actually relaxed enough to lay rolled on his back cracking up the instructor.

I guess this is also a question for me in that I now wonder if the rest of the 'pet' world thinks and expects a 'good' dog to be socially friendly as well? Yet it has always seems more prudent to me that erroring on the side of caution re this breed = keeping them away from other dogs. The downside of this is that one really never gets to know how your dog IS around other dogs and your dog doesn't get a chance to learn good dog (pack) manners either. A dilemna for sure. My gut feeling is that I need to find a like minded pet owner as well as good, safe neutral place for interactions to happen and be watched too. People do tend to think FRIENDLY = not dangerous, so wrong! Even at our vet's office, the staff will lead a dog right by another dog allowing a face to face that could explode in a wink of an eye.
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Postby Hoyden » January 13th, 2006, 12:23 pm

We have always had friends bring thier dogs when they came over to visit, that's how we socialized our dogs at first. If it was a dog we didn't know, we met up the street at a park or outside down the road a bit so the dogs could sniff each other over first.

We usually let the dogs play outside in the fenced back yard with a firm rule that there are two adults on the ground with them at all times. We have a couple break sticks down there, make sure that everyone knows where they are and we turn on the hose. Our dogs hate being squirted, so we use it to let them know if they're starting to get a too rough.

One thing that I ALWAYS tell people is that when you take your dog out in public, someplaces you need to literally recon to make sure there aren't idiots with dogs on retractable leashes, loose dogs present or another situation that is going to either endanger your dog or bring negative attention to the breed.

That isn't always possible, so always be prepared. Know where you are so you can go around accidents waiting to happen. I've gotten guff about it, but it's been hammered in my head, "Never trust a pitbull NOT to fight", so I have dog mace in easy reach and carry a break stick in the side pocket of my backpack purse. (It's actually a wooden dagger used in sword fight training)

Because I am handicapped and have really bad balance, we had a dog trainer & martial arts instructor teach me how to work around my disability in case I had to break-up a fight.

I am probably preaching to the choir, but I figured I might as well share how we do it.

mnp13 - I agree. It is the greatest feeling when I walk by a misbehaving dog with Birdie walking at heel, ignoring the other dog, with slack in the leash clipped to my belt.

Or better yet, when a golden retriever at a small pet store was trying his damnest to get her and we couldn't go around or away, so we moved behind an isle display of toys so we were partially out of sight and I put her into a down/stay until the GR left the store.
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Postby BullyVW » January 13th, 2006, 1:36 pm

Ralph has been socialized with neighbor's dogs since the day he came home with me. You know, it's more the dog than anything, I think. Proper training can prevent a lot, but some dogs just don't deal well with others.

Now, I think it's fine to have a well controlled romp in the park, and a friend of mine does take her pit to doggy daycare...but I caution anything close to a dog park. Just remember, in all situations of socialization...I find I like to have my breaking stick with me.
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Postby mnp13 » January 13th, 2006, 3:34 pm

I think, provided all shots are up-to-date, that a pet store is an ideal place to socialize dogs of all ages, also training classes.
Generally, you will find mostly well behaved dogs at pet stores. That is not to say that you won't run into the occasional pinhead (dog or owner) but for the most part it tends to be a good experience.


I would disagree with this. I have met some of the worst behaved dogs with the dumbest owners at pet stores. Plus, it is easy to get 'ambushed' by a dog coming around the end of an asile suddenly. The slippery floors, tons of toys, other goodies and food is just a recipe for disaster if you end up in a narrow aisle with an idiot owner with an idiot dog.

someplaces you need to literally recon to make sure there aren't idiots with dogs on retractable leashes


The boxer rescue near me had a foster dog die from a retractable leash. Two dogs got tangled and freaked out. Because the dogs were thrashing - especially the one with the leash cable around its neck - they had no chance of getting them apart. He strangled.

With one notable exception, I will not allow Ruby near ANY dog on a retractable leash, especially the ones with the fine cord, for any reason. Ever.

And no haltis/gentle leaders. Just because I don't like them.
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Postby satanscheerleader » January 14th, 2006, 12:11 am

Tank is really weird with that "neutral ground" thing. He's bad with all males no matter what, unless they are a pocket size but he is totally non aggressive to females on his own territory or even small males or puppies. Off the property he is literally insane. Anything is fair game. He's gotten ALOT better as far as being able to walk by a dog in the distance or behind a fence without doing everything in his power to get to the dog but I don't kid myself if the dog was in reach what he would do. I practiced with him walking by all these car lot guard dogs that just FREAK out. I started off at a distance and worked slowly closer and closer to where I can actually walk right by them. Tank will walk by but you can see it is taking everything in his power to remain composed. Thank DAWG he is so people submissive and eager to please. Him and off leash parks would be about as big a NO NO as you could get, even with him muzzled. :shock:
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Postby jmb06 » January 23rd, 2006, 9:48 am

I don't push the dog-to-dog socialization issue with my dogs anymore. When they were puppies they were well-socialized around all kinds of animals and people, etc.

Oreo turned fully dog aggressive around her 3rd birthday, and Patches has slowly become selectively DA (if you'd even call it that)...she doesn't like those overwhelming dogs that run up and get in her face (I don't like that either).

That being said, I only allow Patches around dogs I know. I do expect BOTH dogs to control themselves though. Oreo can now remain calm on a walk when we pass another dog...as long as we keep moving and the dog is not loose. We are working on the rest.

I will not take either of my dogs to a place where other dog owners visit with their dogs. Some people just have this mentality that their dogs misbehave because they have no one to play with, and that is what sets the stage for a disaster.

When asked why I don't take my dogs around other dogs, I respond with the true reasons:
~You just ever know what kind of dogs/owners you will run into
~You don't know what kind of diseases can be left by an unvaccinated dog
~If you run into an untrained dog that starts a fight with your PB/Rottie/Dobie, etc., YOUR dog will automatically be blamed even if it does nothing.

I personally prefer to keep my dogs safe and out of the negative spotlight, and that is why I have my small circle of dog owning friends who I allow Patches to interact with. I haven't had a problem yet.

I look at it like sparing my dogs the ignorance much of society seems to throw to a dog of their breed.
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