German Shepherd Puppy Socialization
German Shepherd Puppy Socialization is a big deal for us here at Black Wolf German Shepherds. Our puppies come from working backgrounds which mean they tend to have higher drives than average. Working line German Shepherd puppies can either become a complete joy to have around or a complete nightmare, and socialization is one of the first steps in making sure your puppy ends up being exactly what you wanted.
First and foremost, our litters are born and raised inside and underfoot from day 1. They get a lot of attention and handling. As soon as the puppies are born they are fitted with a color coded velcro collar that has matching paperwork to go along with it that keeps track of weight, markings, parents, personality, shots and wormings, and socialization activities.
The puppies are kept right with us throughout the day, not locked in a separate room where they only get occasional attention. We try to institute a schedule as soon as possible because this helps get the puppy accustomed to the household rules and activities. We have found that raising them indoors with us creates extremely people oriented dogs – dogs that prefer to be with their humans as opposed to running away or hanging out with other dogs more. These puppies tend to be little shadows and follow you throughout the house and outdoors, wherever you may go. We have found that doing it this way starts the puppy off to a great start to be an important part of its new family. Having a puppy so interested in you and what you are doing also makes a dog that is eager to please which in turn makes training easier as well.
Some of our daily routines include specific times for eating, where food and water dishes are kept, where toys are located, play time indoors and outdoors, specific socialization activities, nap time for crate training (time used to clean up and also get the pup used to being in a crate).
The puppies are not allowed free roam of the house, but rather are gated into the 2 main rooms with us. This allows for a puppy proofed area and also gives us constant visuals on the puppy so that house rules can be enforced. It is very important to know what kinds of things your grown dog will be allowed to do so that it can be taught as a puppy. If you do not allow animals on the furniture, we highly recommend NOT letting the cute little puppy up there either. This will just end up causing confusion and you will have to spend time re-training. We do a lot of re-direction of activities that a pup might do that aren’t allowed. For example, if he/she is chewing on the furniture, we re-direct to the pups play toys.
Housebreaking is also started as soon as possible and keeping them close by allows us to keep an eye out for any accidents (hopefully before they occur).
We introduce the puppies to a wide variety of noises, surfaces, objects, other animals (after shots), different terrain, different types of people, car rides, and trips to stores where animals are allowed. The pups are taken numerous times to the woods to run and explore, check out the surroundings, and just generally have fun.
Socialization should never be forced, it should always be fun and easy going. Your puppy will also follow your lead a lot of times so it is important that you are also acting confident and unafraid. We offer lots of praise and sometimes treats when the pup displays the behavior we are looking for. Some puppies will confidently tackle new situations, others will hesitate but then go back to investigate (both acceptable and good reactions) but sometimes they may not be ready or willing for the task at hand. If your puppy is acting afraid or unsure, don’t coddle them and try to push them into it. Coddling them or baby talking to them will just reinforce to them that they SHOULD have been nervous or fearful. You don’t want to do that. Just act confidently and remove them to do something they have confidence and experience with already.
If it is a particular loud noise they are having a problem with, I will generally take them a further distance away and see if they handle that better. We will then play around for a bit at this comfortable distance and I will move closer during the next session.
I think this is a big reason people end up with dogs afraid of thunder. Once the owner sees the dog hesitate at such a loud noise, they try to comfort the animal with baby talk and coddling. This just tells the dog they had every reason to be afraid. Instead, act like it is no big deal. Laugh and play. Do things that are fun yet distracting. Act like everything is fine and go about your business. Loud noises are something we also incorporate into our socialization. Whether it’s loud toys, banging some pans, thunderstorms, loud talkers, loud vehicles, or even a mechanics workshop, we try to expose them to as many different situations and surfaces/terrain as possible. This makes for a very confident and well-adjusted puppy.
There are also 2 fear impact periods in a puppies life. Between 8-10 weeks old, and again around the 4th month, your puppy may experience fear imprint/impact periods. During these times, your pup is particularly susceptible to stress and fear. Negative experiences during this critical growth stage may last a lifetime. It is important to not push your puppy through any fear or stress thresholds because this could impact them greatly. Take your puppy away from any situation that could become unsafe or scary for them. Any training or socialization you do should be greatly rewarded and not forced.
The German Shepherd Puppy socialization is an ongoing process. It is very important that the new owners keep up a steady routine of introducing new people, places, things, and animals to them as they mature. This makes such a huge difference in both the owners and the dogs life.
Each puppy we sell is given a folder with a copy of the pedigree, the AKC papers, shot and worming papers, a copy of their color coded sheet, and some print-outs for more socialization ideas/techniques and schedules, as well as print outs about house breaking and training the puppy for your house rules.
Training is something we HIGHLY recommend. Actually, be pretty much insist on it. These are VERY smart dogs with higher drives than average – you do NOT want a very large, very smart, very motivated dog that has no training. It will just become a nightmare for both your family and the dog. Even just basic obedience will make a huge difference.
Continue on to our Training section for a more detailed look into the jobs your pup is capable of accomplishing.