Socializing an Adult Dog

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Sun Nov 18, '12 3:55pm PST 
I'd welcome suggestions particularly from people who have rescue work experience. Callie's age is totally unknown. From my own observations he seems to be a young pup of maybe a year or so. He could be older but who knows...
What is a safe gradual way of socializing him in general? When we walk I'm trying to teach him that people, bikes, runners, other dogs all passing by is fine and not a big deal. I even repeat out loud " It's just a man waiting for the bus and thats okay, we're going to walk this way". Then I praise him for being a good boy in being redirected without a fuss.
Compared to Sophie he's very good when he sees other dogs. People will stop and pet him and he wags his stump way happy at the attention. Sophie is a fraidy cat in most situations.
The thing with him is he will randomly growl at some people. I haven't figured out a specific type of person yet...but it's something I want to work on. He doesn't seem like he wants to attack. Just a warning that he does sometimes. He lets himself be redirected almost immediately afterwards and no hackles up or anything.
I can honestly admit he's a scary butt looking pooch. I know he's a big baby under there...but that face growling...definitely not cool. I know it takes time. It took Sophie four years to become the excelllent doggie she is now. Just need suggestions to help him get used to the world.blue dogThanks!

Wait for me!!
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 4:02am PST 
When we brought Sparkles home, she was terrified of everything and everyone. She was about 6 months old and spent all her life on a kennel. What I did was took her everywhere I could as often as I could. I started with family and people she'd easily get familiar with. Then, playgrounds with the kids where I'd entertain and train her on leash with treats so she was more preoccupied with me than the people around her. I'd let a couple random kids pet her and treat her here and there as she got more comfortable. (She wasn't fearfully aggressive, just fearful). After that, it took a few times going to Petco before she started getting comfortable. The employees helped by sweet talking and treating her lol. She's now 10 months old and we took her to her first parade on Veterans Day. She was very nervous at first with all the people but eased up pretty quick. She did panic when the bands passed by but I hugged her and reassured her the whole time. Just positive re-enforcement and consistencies will go a long way. Not sure if I helped you any but just wanted to share my success smile good luck!

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 11:12am PST 
Thank you Sparkles!!! You reassured me I'm going the right direction. Something that I've been doing almost daily is taking him into the business district and surrounding neighborhood for our long walks.

he center of town has businesses, a busy movie theater, stage theater, pizza place, big train station, large rambling park area. So there are alot of different kinds of people. It's interesting-from being at a shelter next to a gun range and I guess the male urge to be cool he doesn't seem afraid of anything. But he looks back at me ALL the time. I think that's a very positive thing, he's completely trusting me to say yup it's okay, lets enjoy our walk.

Random thought-people bring teacups and small dogs to my work every day. It's interesting to note that a little dog going "GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" and everyone laughs, awwwwwwisn't that cute Boopsey is being a wittle toughie. But a dog that looks like Callie hicupps and it's like you threw a grenade.

Jettsen - Adoptable

Looking for- love!
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 11:58am PST 
About a month and a half ago I took on Jettsen as my foster, he's a rez dog. He might have been someone's dog at one time but for the most part rez dogs run about. People walking towards him on the street scared him, if they were in a group, were noisy or had something in their hand just forget about it!! He was also interested in cars, I think it's possible that's how he broke his leg was chasing a car.

So I never walk him without treats. See a person/car get a treat! Still see them? They're getting closer? More treats! Treats treats! It didn't take long that he would see something "scary" and look at me for his treat. Then I started asking for something, a touch or a sit before the treat. I'm proud to say that this morning Jettsen managed his first walk with NO treats! I had to talk him past a couple cars but it was a huge breakthrough for him. I'll still carry treats because I don't expect him to be "cured" but I see a time for him 6 or 8 months down the road where his new family would be able to walk him without treats.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 12:17pm PST 
Really one of the best things you can do is to walk forwardly (not hurriedly or anxiously, just purposefully and at a good clip). I think a really common mistake as people try to acclimate their dogs is that they slow, which is immediately cuing the dog that something is afoot.

Regarding the forward walk, dogs don't receive the world as we do. They have more awareness. They are surely picking up the smells, which is in many ways how they "see" the world, and have their eyes and ears as well. If you walk your dog purposefully passed a bus stop, you are still acclimating him to that bus stop, but in that you are not walking really slow or altering your stride means no cue that "oh wow, this is really remarkable, I think we better go sloooow."

Dogs generally focus on things less with a forward walk. The motion is the main thing they are gearing their energy too, so while they are aware of what they are walking by, they aren't really able to concentrate on it. And the fact that you aren't adjusting yourself as you approach = it is not a big deal. It's just a backdrop thing, nothing really to have much concern about.

Particularly when we are dealing with a dog we really don't know....what are their points of reference? is this genetics? lacks of socialization? actual bad experiences they are drawing from?....and more frontal/more direct exposures can be a social stress, create a social anxiety. Some people, in example, use food as an introduction technique to strangers, see the dog take the food from this stranger and think "great!," but a lot of dogs have to be pretty freaking stressed to not take food, so you don't really know the level of social anxiety you just put your dog through, you know?

The best start with a rescue pooch is to be content if he will simply walk past without incident, and a very forward clip helps accomplish this. That's a good place to start to get him acclimated to these things. So walk past bus stops, walk through a group of people, etc. Pay attention to his body language. When it seems he is shifting a bit, pretty relaxed, you can walk slower. See what he does. Maybe he looks, maybe he tried to sniff, maybe he walks over. It could be many things. But now these things are more a part of his backdrop, more familiar, and you are still allowing him to talk as to what he'd like to do. When he is ready for something more direct, he lets you know. That is when the "stranger with a treat" approach is better employed.

I know that when I get fosters in, in example, I basically ignore them. I let them make the overtures. That makes them come around a lot faster. I had a bluetick in who was supposed to have a profound fear of men. I told my husband to please ignore her and not make direct eye contact, which he did. In no time at all....I mean in less than two minutes....she was following him around bug eyed saying "well aren't you going to say hi????" laugh out loud I really think part of the reports we had on her is that her original foster did a more forced introduction to the girl when she arrived. Very nice, I am sure. Just told him that he had to go over, give her lots of cookies and lots of pats. So he did, and because she was nervous, it probably weirded her out. This same foster had a lot of problem with this girl meeting men generally. Probably was thinking "oh crap, here's a man this chick seems so freaky about....I just KNOW he's going to come over!" and started to bark and get uncomfortable. Irony is, she had no man issues. Did great with Dennis, and was adopted into a home with a husband, who she loves dearly. It was simply putting her under that pressure that gave her concerns about these situations.

Edited by author Mon Nov 19, '12 12:19pm PST


It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 7:01pm PST 
Thanks for all the feedback so far! The next question is the growling. In recent weeks the following have gotten the low growl-
A couple in front of their house carrying in groceries
An old man on the sidewalk at the park
Some teenagers riding skateboards on the main street
A school age girl at the library

But there are also couples, senior citizens, teenage boys and children who have stopped to pet him and he licked and wagged all over the place.

Is it perhaps he senses the fear in some people? A look of disgust? Even if he was a total house pet before the shelter, it must be hard to have an appearance that makes people react so strongly sometimes and not understand why...Would you correct him about the growling or just let it slide a bit for now?

Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 2:35pm PST 
The usual response is growl, snarl, snap, bite, so I would not correct him for growling. This is your early warning sign. Try to keep him farther from his triggers. Reward him in his favorite way profusely when he remains calm.

I have been socializing my 3rd rescue dog, Rolo, and he has gone from a nipper, to a to an to an air snapper, to a very occasional growler. People are encouraged to approach him slowly and gently -- "He's timid."

Fortunately he loves children and is dog social.

I have socialized other dogs past their puppy socialization stage and it is doable. Keep the faith. You have received good advice, especially from Tiller. Just keep walking on.

Wait for me!!
Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 4:53pm PST 
This may sound odd but maybe something didn't look quite right about the people he growled out. Maybe the groceries in the couples hands and the skateboard the kid was on. I know with Sparkles, if something looks different or out of place, she'll growl and bark at it. She was complaining the other day because all the stuffed animals on my sons bed looked like they were staring across the room lol. Just reassure him that everything is ok when he gets worried about things or people and when he does stay calm, praise and treats smile

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 8:03pm PST 
Perhaps the method you use with young children of "Caught you being good!!!", praising him all over the place for being a happy social guy and he learns that's a good thing ya know? Funny I guess it's me too. Sophie will growl when we walk at night. Usually someone in shadows suprising her or random people who might just as well stay away from us anyway.

But with him, we haven't had him that long so I don't know how he reacts to some stuff yet. Sophie I usually know exactly what she'll do in a given situation. She growls but is trying to hide behind my legs while she's doing it. There Mommy, I scared the bad guys now you take care of it...laugh out loud