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i have a fairly new young Cattle pup who is doing great in her training.

at class we do not socialize amongst ourselves at all before, during or after class, except for the occational sneaky quick cheat attempt when training off leash in extremely close range, the idea being that we are learning to pay attention to our owner/handler only, while ignoring distractions as they are introduced to us.

my pup is extremely social, absolutely loves people, and loves, loves, loves to play with other dogs. i haven't had her out to socialize with other dogs since training in this setting, even out of class, as i train with her quite a lot throughout the week, with continued attempts at learning how to work through distractions, though i know she's aching to do so.

should i keep her well adjusted through contact play off leash with other dogs at a dog park at times other than training for now? will this hinder training, or will it be easier for her to let it go while training, or otherwise even?
 

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i have a fairly new young Cattle pup who is doing great in her training.

at class we do not socialize amongst ourselves at all before, during or after class, except for the occational sneaky quick cheat attempt when training off leash in extremely close range, the idea being that we are learning to pay attention to our owner/handler only, while ignoring distractions as they are introduced to us.

my pup is extremely social, absolutely loves people, and loves, loves, loves to play with other dogs. i haven't had her out to socialize with other dogs since training in this setting, even out of class, as i train with her quite a lot throughout the week, with continued attempts at learning how to work through distractions, though i know she's aching to do so.

should i keep her well adjusted through contact play off leash with other dogs at a dog park at times other than training for now? will this hinder training, or will it be easier for her to let it go while training, or otherwise even?

I do agree with the trainer at the class that it is very important for the pup to learn that he must focus on you when you ask no matter what is going on around him. It's great that the trainer is trying to help you learn how to teach her that, trust me you don't want a dog that will blow you off when she's decided that what she wants to do is more important then what you want her to do.

Yes, you do need to keep exposing her to new dogs, people, places, and things, BUT all of those exposures must be positive, good, ones. Please do not use a dog park to socialize her, it's a bad idea. The reason it is if a clueless owner should bring their unfriendly dog to the park and that dog decides to terrorize, bully, fight, etc, your pup your pup could then decide that dogs are not nice, fun, play buddies but are scary, bad, animals. Most of us on Dog Forum, have seen, or heard, of cases of that happening, sometimes all it takes is one bad experience to have a pup or dog become fear reactive towards other dogs. Instead of the dog park try one on one, or a small group, play dates with other friendly pups and dogs. If you can afford it you can also try sending her to a doggy day care for an hour or two a couple times a week.

Remember that socialization isn't about quantity but about quality.
 

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If I were you... I would be getting contact information from these people and setting up playdates outside of class time. Of course you want to get your money's worth from the class and take advantage of the opportunity to practice in a distracting environment with the dog. But puppies make great playmates for each other as they are usually the most tolerant of the rambunctiousness and crap that... well, puppies pull!

And especially when the pup hits 6-8 months and is totally bouncing off the walls, all the alumni of the class will be really doing themselves a favour by keeping some other young, energetic playmates in their Rolodex ;)
 

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I'll repeat my standard advice here. Keep track of owners and dogs that you like on your daily walks, note when and where you meet them and plan your next walks to increase the chance of running into them again, like a stalker. It is in my opinion much better for a dog to have a group of dogs that they know, like and is comfortable with that they meet regularly than constantly meeting new dogs. Another advantage is that these early friendships seems to last. My dogs are less open to other dogs now as they mature but they are always super happy to meet old friends. Unfortunately, my dogs friends are dying at a shocking rate lately, so I might have to go back stalking some new owners myself , sigh, but I still believe this is the best way to meet your dogs social needs.
 
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