I feel like I have to add that when she is with other dogs, which she knows a bit better she is the complete opposite. We often take her to play with a fully grown Labrador and also a 2 year old Boxer, which she can't get enough off. They will literally keep at it for the whole of the day and she will start instigating play. But at puppy school she is more reserved, I'm starting to think it's just because she doesn't know them that well yet.
Being reserved with other dogs is okay...each dog is different and not all of them are social butterflies. Make sure at school they are good at matching puppies with appropriate play styles together so no one is overwhelmed or intimidated...you don't want a puppy that is so boisterous with a shy pup that will completely overwhelm the shy one. A good puppy class will be sure all pups are comfortable and having good experiences. If she's not uncomfortable, but is just more of an observer, or has another pup or two that she feels most comfortable with, that's totally okay.
At this age, you do NOT want her barking or growling at new stuff, typically...that can often be a sign that a puppy is unsure or uncomfortable. You can encourage her, gently, to check new things out - that's part of socializing, but you MUST make sure she is enjoying experiences and that it's a positive experience. It should be on her terms, her choice. If there's something interesting or unusual, you can give her the option to check it out...I literally tell my dogs "check it out!" I often reward them for doing so, am encouraging in my tone, etc. But I would never force it with a puppy, because that can backfire on you. If a new experience at that age is negative, it can have lasting affects.
I don't think it's possible to oversocialize, *provided* your dog's socialization experiences are positive. A Doberman that has had a lot of experiences with different people and situations is the best equipped to judge independently whether a situation is normal, or a threat.
I think you've put it very well, I wouldn't say she was uncomfortable, just more on the reserved side of things. Besides the one time when another pup started barking at her, I could see she felt intimidated.. (although the other dog didn't show any real aggression), I handled the situation by giving her a treat, showed her it's no threat and the slowly moved withdrawn her from the situation.
Okay great, I'm happy to hear that she should not be barking/growling at this stage.
Like I mentioned, we're making sure all the new experiences are positive, our breeder also made that very clear from the beginning
Good starting point--keep doing that.
Read Meadowcat's post again--I agree with her views and her suggestions.
Slightly submissive isn't anything to worry about in a 5 month old puppy--and as MC pointed out not all puppies are social butterflies. She's a puppy--puppy behavior is built in to protect baby dogs--being submissive is appropriate but you don't want her overwhelmed with a bully so just keep an eye out for her being bullied or overwhelmed by another puppy at this point. Her confidence would normally increase with age and experience.
It's another survival trait in young puppies--be quiet, be invisible. At her age a lot of barking would be more like because of fear than any kind budding protection behavior.
Personally I don't want my dogs to bark much at all--the dogs are not sound sensitive but I am so I discourage barking. As a result, when one of my dogs bark--it's because there is something unusual going on. A couple of times it was someone in my fenced back yard--I turned on a porch light and let one of the adult boys out--there were sounds of running (dog and two footer of some sort)--in the morning there was a piece of denim just inside the fence. In that case my dog barked only once in the house and said nothing in the yard but was effective at ridding his yard of someone who didn't belong.
Good socialization is the best way to accomplish this--I was told by a trainer for police, guard and personal protection dogs that the most socialized dogs are the best at this sort of work because they've seen enough to know the difference between normal and weird behavior.
I don't think so--and the trainer who told me his favorite dogs to train for protection were failed show dogs because they'd seen it all--didn't get excited about everything but made good judgements about odd behavior. I've had Dobes a long time now and most of my dogs are friendly but have all at one point or another (as adults) been willing to stand between me and something they perceived as "not right" (which doesn't always mean dangerous) until assured that I had it covered.
Early socialization is a great way to make sure your dog will be in a position to be correct in protecting. Again like MC if something attracts the attention of a puppy and they seem unsure I invite them to go see--I don't force them but I do allow them to take all the time they want to investigate.
Most puppies will be tentative about seeing something unusual for the first time--that's not a problem they should be cautious but you want them to see all of the stuff so that they know about it.
Thanks, that's very useful. I also don't want a constantly barking dog, it would drive us crazy! Just enough to alert us if there's something out of the usual going on. I will keep encouraging her to be curious and investigative. The other night she was constantly staring into a shed, I called her over there but she was hesitant to go in... I eventually took the first into the shed and she followed me in sniffing around with her tail wagging!
Good for you coming on the forum and getting questions answered! I would just add that, if you are noticing body language that causes you to use the words, ďShe seems intimidated, ď that is extremely significant. I believe, with the experience of many decades of dog ownership, horse training, and parrot training plus being a teacher of dog training classes and having owned a vet clinic for two decades, I would not ignore those observations. Dobermans are so smart, so sensitive, and so tuned in to their environment as part of being a guarding breed that you need to address apprehensive behavior.
Her behavior tells you a very simple but profound thing. Sheís uncomfortable! So, thereís a very simple but profound action you can take to help her feel more comfortable. Just imagine the way you feel when you are apprehensive about some activity like going for a job interview or starting a new job. Apprehensive feelings are okay for puppies AS LONG AS they are not repeated on a regular recurring basis, which can certainly leaded to learned apprehension, and worse, specific apprehension about a particular situation, like being around other dogs! Just think about the way dogs learn to be apprehensive about the vet clinic. You donít want her LEARNING and PRACTICING apprehension.
So, you can easily do a very simple thing when you take her out places. Feed her tiny pieces of a very high value treat, preferably something very natural that she doesnít get at home like cooked chicken. My friend who has a new rescue thatís apprehensive about puppy class does this and already, in just two weeks, sheís seeing a huge difference in the young dogís emotion about going in the training building. First, she gets there early so there is no rush. Second, she takes organic baby food in a squeeze tube (like you can put shampoo in for travel) and gives frequent licks throughout the process of getting out of the car, pottying, and going into the building. Then she gives licks frequently during class and ANYTIME she sees a stress signal (see below).
Sheís pairing a SUPER happy thing with every step of the previously anxiety-provoking event. After all, when you start a new job, you donít just get anxious when you arrive at your desk, you are probably anxious back when you are trying to get ready and it builds from there. But I pretty much guarantee I could change that mindset, that concern, to smiling happy feelings if if I was right there peeling off a $50 and handing it to you every few minutes! And, if youíd known ahead of time you were going to get money handed out to you, youíd have jumped out of bed before the alarm had a chance to go off!
Thatís what happens- once your pup realizes that the situation which formerly caused her some stress NOW pays free GREAT handouts (donít cheap out and use your everyday boring rewards because some dogs canít eat them when stressed - you want something that is GUARANTEED to create a happy feeling!), she will quickly be dragging you in the building.
Keep it up throughout the class and NEVER, under any circumstances, allow any dog to bully her or jump all over her even if the instructor pairs you up with such a dog. Be proactive, block the other dog, and simply say to the instructor that this is not working for your puppy. If she did get bumped or vigorously approached by another dog and you saw that it intimidated her, donít re-pair her with another dog immediately, just back a good way out of the action and feed her while sheís watching everyone. If she seems like sheís willing to reengage then just choose carefully! A sensitive and skilled instructor wonít put you in such a position but sometimes they donít know how two dogs are going to end up playing together and you have to be the one to make the decision to protect your puppy.
If she is really reluctant to want to play with anyone, then just let her stay in there and watch everybody else play while you feed her the little super treats. Building her confidence and happy attitude is more important right now as having her play with another puppy, In my opinion. Another day will come around for that and hopefully she will be happy to engage at that time because you have done this wonderful conditioning.
Note that she does not have to do any behavior whatsoever to get the treats! No ďsitĒ first! They are simply being given to change her mood and her attitude about what is happening all around her. If you want to look it up itís just basic Pavlovian conditioning.
One big thing: donít overwhelm this puppy just because you have food!! Make sure she has the ability to withdraw from proximity to ANY other dog! Protect her space. You donít want to give her a lick and the next second a big bruiser bowls her over and terrifies her. Protect her space. Let her observe. Slow things down for her as she learns confidence in the situation. Some people just sit safely on the sidelines watching and feeding until their dog really shifts to feeling more confident. For some dogs that takes weeks. Youíll have to judge that and it sounds like you are very sensitive to your dog.
Whatís happening now, it sounds like, and totally without you realizing it, is that she is being conditioned to be apprehensive about being around other dogs in general. You definitely donít want even a little bit of that at this impressionable young age. Practice makes perfect and you donít want a perfectly apprehensive puppy.
I would also use this conditioning anytime you take her out anywhere to socialize with people, new places, anything that might tend to frighten her the least little bit. Pay close attention to her body language and watch for lip licking, ears back, and tail down. Yawning can also be a sign of stress. Lighten up on how close you take her to new stuff while you condition her good feelings. You are using your goodies to change her emotional slant on whatís happening out in the world but you canít do that if sheís perceiving she is too close to the stress. I wouldnt get to far with my $50ís and a situation like this: ďHere you go, just wade in there with those pesky sharks, no problem, Iím going to be handing out $50ís!Ē
You want to creat a strong POSITIVE ďconditioned emotional responseĒ (trainer Denise Fenziís term) for everything you do with her outside your home but itís a process. Just like a new job.
Good luck and happy training! And conditioning!
Thanks triciakoontz, I think my when I said "she was intimated" I didn't add enough context. It was only that instance when I could see she was intimidated, the rest of the time she's just a bit more reserved opposed to being the instigator - as she is when we're a visiting relatives with dogs. I'll add some of of that in start of this reply
I especially like the part of high value treats, I will definitely make use of that.
OK... So this is just my thing.
My youngest is wonderfully socialized. He interacts with people as well or better than any dog I have ever owned. The one exception is home protection. While he is never allowed to bark in public, he has always been free to audibly protect our/his house.
Ok, to my point.... And again, this is just my own POV based on my experience.
My McCoy never interacts with unknown dogs. In fact his entire off-leash life occurs only in our house or our fenced yard.
Dobermans, in my experience, don't need other dogs to be happy and healthy. They have one mission: to please and be pleased by their human. It is innate.
The downside to restricting your Dobe's "free for all" with other dogs is that the onus falls on you to keep him/her mentally and physically stimulated. The upside is a safe and secure dog who totally understands his/her role in your life.
Oh well... I am sure that others will disagree with me.
I'll keep that in mind, but she does however love playing with other dogs... up to a point where we are strongly considering getting her a friend in 6 months.