Too late? Questions

Discussion in 'Dalmatian' started by Auritiqa, Oct 9, 2023.

  1. Auritiqa

    Auritiqa New Member

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    Too late?

    Hello,

    So a close relative of mine just got a Dal but turns out due to their mental health can't take care of it so I'm taking over and would love to make him my own. However, this pup was brought to me at 5 months old and I have a 10 year old German Shepherd. Puppy seems to do ok but not completely fine with him. I socialized my dog from the moment I was allowed. But this puppy has only been socialized with its parents and litter mates. Is it too late to socialize him successfully?

    When first meeting my dog he barked wildly at him. Now he'll growl a bit before barking a few times. I would like to have him be able to meet other dogs without going crazy. If I can't socialize him successfully, I'm going to have no choice but to return him which I would like to avoid. I'm not familiar with Dals and I know they're on the thin side but he seems too skinny (21 lbs), like I can see his rib cage pretty well and hip bones and don't want him going back to that "breeder".

    Also, he's 5 months and the breeder has only taken him for 1 round of vaccinations! so I don't even think I can start socializing him right away to make things worse.
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  3. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    Helidale likes this.
    First, socializing doesn't mean greeting every dog he sees.

    Socializing is about letting him experiences new things in a safe way. For puppies, this usually means letting them explore their world. Letting them walk on different flooring and ground (tile, linoleum, hardwood, pavement, sewer grates, dirt, grass, etc) and letting them experience noise and vibrations and movements (cars driving by, vacuums, brooms, washing machines, lawn mowers, crosswalk beepers, etc).

    And yes, at 5 months, he can learn all that. There may be some things he never quite adjusts too, but he can learn to not be afraid of everything.

    In regards to dog interactions, that will take patience and consistency. First, don't push or force him to interact with other dogs. That will just increase his fear.

    Instead, go slowly. If you can have a friend or family member help with interactions that would be great. Bring both dogs into the room and have each person just sit quietly and interact with "their" dog. This teaches the puppy that your shepherd is not competition for attention. Use treats to reward him whenever he focuses on you instead of the other dog - even if he just turns to look at you for a second, reward him. As you do this, he will look to you more often and for longer stretches of time. And this is what you want. You want him to learn to ignore other dogs - they become non-events.

    Do the same out on walks. Keep other dogs at a distance and reward him when he looks to you instead of a passing dog. The goal isn't to have him interact with every dog, but to ignore every dog.

    He may never be fully at ease with strange dogs. That's OK. Don't force him to do so.

    Do this with each dog in your circle. Circle meaning those dogs who your dogs are going to be interacting with because of your relationships (eg, needing to get along with your parents' dog because you visit them regularly).

    But with patience, redirection (if he focuses on another dog, redirect him to a toy and then reward him for looking away from the other dog), and understanding, he can settle in with his new brother and those dogs in your circle.

    Regarding weight, it is impossible for us to say if he is too skinny or not based on a description. Your best bet is to take him to the vet for a checkup - you can get him caught up on vaccinations at the same time.
  4. Auritiqa

    Auritiqa New Member

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    CaroleC and Toedtoes like this.
    Thank you so much for the advice and knowledge! I will try my best with him and be patient and apply what you've shared. Every "dog expert" around me has been telling me that my window for having him interact with other people and dogs was closed and that he would become either scared or mean with everything. I began to worry. I have been redirecting his behavior for the past two days and I'm starting to see a bit of improvement. I guess I was just looking for some kind of support since I was not ready for this breed of dog like I was with my GSD but I'm ready to take up the challenge and learn so that he'll grow up to be a good furry companion.

    I do have an appointment this Monday for his 2nd round of shots so I will try and ask as much as I can about his health and weight.

    Again, I appreciate the advice!

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  5. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    CaroleC likes this.
    Unfortunately, people tend to make absolutes:

    An unsocialized puppy WILL be aggressive and mean.

    The truth is it all depends. It depends on his temperament, his breed, his interactions with his siblings, and so on. And it depends on how much you put into him and what you expect out of him. But they can still learn. You just want to use love and kindness to teach him, not punishment or pain. And that's another reason why people say "he can't learn" - because they use punishment to train. And when a dog is afraid or anxious around strange dogs, forcing him to sit quietly next to that dog, or jerking his leash every time he reacts, just proves to him that being around strange dogs is not good or fun. And that will reinforce the fear or anxiety.

    I'm a shepherd person too. They are very eager to please and therefore extremely easy to train. Your tone of voice, expression on your face, even your posture can easily affect a shepherd's behavior. Dalmations aren't like that. You may have to work a bit harder to get him to do things than you are used to. Find what he loves and use that for redirection. My jack russell mix loves his toys, especially his tennis balls, so I use those for redirection. It works well. His motivation is fun - if he's not having fun, he won't do it. So I have to make everything a game. With my shepherds, I just let them know what I wanted and they did it.
  6. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    He's a cutie!!! He does look on the skinny side so definitely ask the vet.

    It may just be a high metabolism. I had a shepherd/poodle/newfie who by 5 months was eating 5-1/2 cups of food daily. Any less and he would be skin and bones. My other dogs of similar size have only eaten 3 to 3-1/2 cups of the same food. He ate 5-1/2 cups until he was 6 years old. Then he ate 4-1/2 cups until he died at 15 years.

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