Five Tips for Socializing a German Shepherd Dog

It's easier than ever to socialize a puppy or adopted older German Shepherd. Dog parks and socialization centers are opening across the US. Make sure to do your part and follow all of the rules of the place you choose. Call before going the first time to find out what the pet needs, usually it includes: current vaccinations, a collar and leash.

There are no hard and fast rules for socializing dogs, but there are a few things that can make the process quicker and to help ease any anxieties your German Shepherd may be feeling.

Introduce the entire household to the German Shepherd

Socialization should begin as soon as the dog joins the family. Have each person in the home meet the German Shepherd in a calm manner. Give dog treats to each person if the German Shepherd is shy. Have each person calmly sit in the same room and allow the dog to freely walk up and meet each person. Don't reach for the pet, allow him to come to you and smell first. Give him a treat for acting appropriately (being gentle, staying down and remaining calm).

Introduce the dog to other pets in the same calm manner. Keep in mind that some German Shepherds may never accept or befriend some animals, such as rodents, due to the inherited instincts of the breed.

Teach some basic commands

Teach the German Shepherd how to look at you, sit and stay before going to any public socialization places. Practice during noisy home situations so the pet gets used to paying attention during chaotic times. Have everyone in the home participate in training and the use of commands.

Take the German Shepherd to public dog parks and socialization centers

Remain confident and calm while preparing to enter the facility. Your pet and other dogs will sense any tension you bring to playtime.

Keep the dog on a leash with a training collar when first entering the park. Bring some treats if your pet is food motivated, and reward her for playing nicely and obeying commands.

Keep the dog on leash until he has shown relaxed and playful behavior around all of the other pets. Only allow a pet to play off leash with others in safe areas away from traffic.

Bring in a puppy to help socialize

Puppies have their own way of communicating with other dogs by tail wags, sniffing and showing submissive playful behavior. These actions by the puppy are calming to most shy German Shepherds.

A playful one year old large breed puppy can teach a shy German Shepherd dog how to play calmly. Leave toys at home, and let the dogs play together. Have another calm adult with you when socializing a fearful or extremely shy pet. You can also watch a great video of puppies teaching an un-socialized older dog how to play calmly here.

Talk to a veterinarian or professional dog trainer

Have a veterinarian check your German Shepherd for medical issues in severe social problems. The veterinarian may prescribe medication or give a referral to a professional dog trainer. The dog trainer can show you how to work with a German Shepherd, and point out any areas to improve upon.

Remember to have fun when socializing a German Shepherd. Let the dog see you talking with other people and allow the pet to understand it's alright for people to approach if you approve. Your reactions will tell the dog whether or not you approve. This method of socialization makes for a happy and less stressed German Shepherd Dog.

Photo Credit: "German Shepherd Dog sitting leash" by Tim Dobbelaere from Ieper, Belgium - Man's best friend. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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