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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A little over 2 months ago I rescued a 7 month old lab/husky mix with possibly some Dane in him. He is now 9 months old and I have been training him myself, as well as going to a 6 week training class with him.

Back story (the little information I do know) on Steel: he was found as a puppy on the side of the road by a young couple, who handed him off to a family. That family kept him for 5 months or so, then became unexpectedly pregnant with a second child and already had another dog, so they gave Steel back to the young couple that found him in the first place. Here's where I come into the story. The same day the family gave Steel back to the young couple, they posted him online and I went to see him and fell in love.

You can definitely tell that Steel wasn't socialized enough as a puppy, he gets overly rambunctious at the sight of other dogs and IMMEDIATELY has to go walk up to them (which sometimes isn't the best thing to do - therefore I rarely let him go up to a dog). I try to calm him down, but he gets very vocal (being the husky that he is). He will just whine and make noises the entire time.

My family has a black Labrador, 12 years old, who he is great with but only because we went on a walk first together, single file. He then got used to her, and once we got back inside the house, Steel acted like he had known the black lab his entire life. I was so excited to see this progress, but it's impossible to tell EVERY person I meet with a dog to go "on a walk" with my dog and I. That's a lot to do every time we meet another dog when walking, and near impossible.

Steel is definitely an anxious dog when it comes to things, and he does great with kids and 90% of people he encounters. He has so much personality and is a gentle giant when at home, sometimes you can see his true self when out in public, but I feel like he gets more stressed when meeting other dogs and I don't want that for him....

I truly just need your opinions/tips/etc on what I can do to socialize him more WITHOUT stressing him out. The training class he is in has 3 other dogs in it and he does perfectly fine with them (especially because he gets so many treats and is involved with other stuff like training). I so badly want to take him to the dog park but I feel that would be sensory overload for him and I don't know what would happen.

sidenote: he is almost 80lbs, big boy

Thanks so much for the help! :)

Steel:






 

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I don't have any suggestions but I'm sure you will get some.

Just had to say that is one gorgeous dog!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
He is gorgeous! I also have a very anxious dog and our vet gave us this Adaptil Collar / Adaptil / Adaptil. It's pretty pricey, and it's potency wears off, but OMG, it really relaxes him. He honestly seems to enjoy new experiences a lot more when we have one for him.
I actually think my sister's boyfriend has that for his dog, his relaxing collar was $16 I'm pretty sure, from PetSmart. He said it definitely help but it does wear off rather quickly...and thanks for the compliment, he is quite handsome :)
 

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That doesn't sound like a socialization issue at all. It sounds like he just needs consistent training and some time to mature. I don't think he needs to meet and play with all of the dogs, he just needs to learn to focus on you and ignore them as he walks past.

Look into resources for reactivity. Some dogs are reactive because they are insecure or scared, and some are just very excited by other dogs (which sounds like his problem). The techniques to fix it are about the same though. Letting him meet other dogs on leash is counter productive to working through his reactivity.
 

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Take him to the dog run, but don't go in. Don't even go too close, find the closest distance you can get to it and keep him distracted and calm. You may have to start very far away.
Try not to be on the route that dogs walk to and from it. Next time, try and be a little closer, and so on

You could just have him lie down and pet him, or practice some of your training. Just make sure his attention is on you.

You eventually want to get closer and closer to the dog run, so he can just hang out there and see other dogs without being bothered by it. It may take a while.

If you try and go off peak there will be fewer dogs there, which will be easier for him.

While you are hanging out by the dog run and he has been close enough times to calm down a bit, observe the dogs, and you see maybe just 1 or 2 well-behaved calm dogs, then you could try letting him in.

The key I think for him will be meeting the right dogs at the right time in the dog run, as it just sounds like he hasn't learned manners, rather than is dangerous, and the right dogs will correct him without hurting him and not hold too much of a grudge.
Dogs also tend to give puppies more of a pass on rude behavior than older dogs, so you shouldn't wait too long to have him meet them.

For on-leash greetings, I personally prefer to avoid them altogether, I just distract my dog and try and walk by. If the other owner is intent on a greeting, I usually make her lie down. She doesn't have a problem with other dogs, but she always wants to play and it is frustrating for her when she meets a dog and can't play, so walking by is the best option for us, as she then gets a very clear message that we are not playing. We have managed to train out most of the leash frustration, but even though physically she does what I want, I can see that battle going on in her head!

FWIW my dog is usually very very anxious to get into the dog run and see other dogs, to the point where she goes crazy, but once she is actually allowed access the excitement dies down and she plays perfectly nicely. It still sometimes takes up to 10 mins waiting at the door of the dog run for her calm down to the point where I am happy opening the door.

NEVER BRING YOUR DOG INTO THE DOG RUN ON A LEASH
I see so many people do this because they are not sure if their dogs are ready.... its horrible for everyone
 

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Great advice from Ems. Totally agree.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
EMS, this is great advice, thank you so much!!

Steel definitely gets extremely excited when it comes to dogs, and he does the same thing your dog does - wants to play so bad and doesn't understand that he can't play with EVERY dog he passes. I'll definitely make him lay down or sit from now on when other dogs pass by. As I said, he is still in training currently (since his other owners did nothing for him), so he and I both definitely have some work to do. Just seeing how much he has progressed in the 2 months I have had him makes me extremely happy and excited about what we will accomplish eventually.

I do try and wait for him to calm down before I let him in, so I will do what you suggested and not let him in the fence/enclosed area until he acts a little cool and collected.


Last night I took him to see my friend who has a 3 year old bulldog that's 64lbs (he is a Butterball turkey basically) and Steel got a long GREAT with him and they played nicely. It was nice to see him get some energy out and be able to play with a dog!!
Thanks so much for all of your help!
 

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I'll definitely make him lay down or sit from now on when others dogs come by.
It may be easier to keep his focus on you if you keep walking, rather than asking him to hold a stationary position as a dog passes. Just something to think about.
 

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It may be easier to keep his focus on you if you keep walking, rather than asking him to hold a stationary position as a dog passes. Just something to think about.
Normally I just turn the opposite direction so he doesn't have to see the dog, but I don't want to have to do that every time - sometimes encounters are inevitable.
 

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Normally I just turn the opposite direction so he doesn't have to see the dog, but I don't want to have to do that every time - sometimes encounters are inevitable.
Oh yeah, for sure, sometimes you have to pass other dogs whether you want to our not. I was just saying that it will probably be easier on both of you if you get his attention while you're walking past, vs asking him to sit or down. Holding a stationary position in the face of something exciting, like another dog, is very hard for most dogs. I would consider that more advanced than being able to walk past another dog.
 

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Yeah we always try to keep walking, it is best for everyone, but when the other owner seems determined to have us meet, I have my dog lie down, for her, it seems easier to keep her relaxed lying down, but all dogs are different.
 
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