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Riley's Mom
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The first time I brought Riley to a Puppy Play Group (was supervised and all) he did pretty well, played with the other dogs and came out of his shell a bit. However, one particular dog came in (a young corgi) and that corgi would growl whenever Riley would sniff him... this got Riley more excited and after a game of tug of war with the little guy, well, play turned into what looked like aggression to me.

Riley rolled the small corgi onto his back and started biting his neck and the growling and screaming was a shock to everyone there. Riley bared his teeth and I never saw such a mean look in his eyes as he did it. They got separated, and things calmed down, but he was not allowed to get near that corgi again.

I felt horrible, both because I wanted his first experience to be a good one, and because all of the other owners thought Riley was a "bad mean dog" after that.

The next place I went to, a larger puppy knocked Riley over during play, and Riley started yelping and didn't want to get near any other dogs after that so we had to take him out of the area (trainer asked us to leave).

He has another social today and I'm terrified how it will go this time. Are these experiences dooming him to dog aggression and/or fearfulness or is it too soon to worry? Lots more events and socializing may still work?

He's very smart and strong willed. I just want him to be "safe" around other dogs and strange humans when he is older, so I don't have to worry about him being aggressive or fearful. I'm shook up already and he's only 11 weeks old.

Thanks for any replies on this!
 

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Have you considered starting with a small play group at first, maybe Riley and one more dog. A dog more Riley's age and size or an older female that you know to be tolerant?
 
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11 weeks doesn't sound old enough to be 100 percent up to date on all shots. I would make sure your covered there. Growling and neck biting does not always mean aggression. Without seeing it no one knows. My dog Haley does not growl, but I have watched her run dogs into submission and drag them around by their scruff until they get back up. If there's a yelp or a wince she knows that's enough and gives them a break. She usually lays down next to them until they are ready to party again. Knowing when to stop is very important for a puppy to learn. How to say enough is enough, and when to give another dog some breathing room. She has always excelled at "play dates". She has always been the most well adjusted dog in the majority of the settings she has been in. This was of course assuming all the other participants were also on good behavior. Most of the dogs in her puppy class all wanted to play with her. Some would "argue" over her as she gazelled her way around the room. One dog to this day, she still sees on a regular basis. He does not play well with anyone but her. Both unfortunately and fortunately she does not seem to know that there are bad things out there that want to hurt her. She would often return to a dog that is not fond of her, trying to instigate play. Due to her happy go lucky nature she draws a lot of attention. Good and bad. She has been accidentally knocked over by larger dogs, but always warms back up to them quickly.

It's a long feeling out process to find out what works and doesn't work for your dog. Don't worry if he doesn't get along with every dog out there. Keep him safe, set him up for success, avoid dog parks, and keep it small and simple.
 

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Don't Believe In It

Well...I've raised alot of pups and never ever would I put them into a play group at this age, or any age.

The play group within the litter is the only safe group for a puppy. There boundries are already intact.

You are asking strange dogs, who have no sense of who's the pack leader, to now adjust to one another. And, to top that off, every week the group changes with new coming in and going etc.

This playing up puppy loose play kindergarten has gotten out of hand.

It is important to have as many "controled" experiences as possible for your puppy. But once he is beat up, or beats up everybody else, you are in for a long road of undoing the damage.

Get him out for experiences where he is safe only. Expose him to different people and situations. Let him explore only in safe venues.

A group of puppies that don't know each other is a possible damaging event. And, most of the public doesn't even know better.

My input on this. Others think differently. But I have put the points on the working dogs out there, and this is what I learned over time.

You want a safe secure dog. Not one who has had bad experience. These are the dogs that often get so messed up they end up in rescue.

Stop the routine loose groups. Head out to different destinations.

One thing I use to do, but haven't done it yet with these puppies, is just stand outside a grocery store, on leash, after shots are complete. This gets them so use to different people coming up behind them, beside them, some petting etc. That then transiitions right to the show ring. Wahoo!

But it is one of the best training tools. Another place, when they are a bit more secure, is Home Depot. They allow dogs inside and oh what a good experience.

Get the He... away from those darn puppy loose groups. You are scrwing up your dog!
 

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I feel puppy play time is crucial myself BUT I also go to places with fantastic trainers who would never have let that Corgi stay in the mix period. If I had to decide between uncontrolled random puppy play and no puppy play, I'd say no puppy play.

When the larger dog knocked him over the trainer should have set up an area where he was comfortable and away from other dogs and slowly reintroduced him farther than leaving at a bad experience.

If you do go, be proactive, not reactive. But every single one of my dogs has been to at least one puppy class with puppy play and had great results. I actually take Havoc my older Vizsla at graduation to the puppy play sessions to the puppies can get used to an adult who is good with puppies. They are 100% supervised. It's not a free for all.
 

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Serious working dogs are generally raised a little differently than your average pet dogs though. My trainer who runs a SchH club does not like dog parks and doesn't let his working dogs play with other dogs. He wants all the focus to be on him and not other dogs or people.

I have worked at dog daycares for years and have seen how well it has helped socialize puppies and dogs. I've seen terrified rescue dogs come around full circle and actually turn into social butterflies because of positive group play. It has helped them to become more stable dogs in public.

I know genetics plays a role, but I do think growing up in dog daycare helped with Prime's great tolerance and dog social levels. We are very active and social and i will be fostering throughout my life so it's crucial that my dogs can handle and enjoy group play. I don't want them to always observe from a leash. Some of the best times I've had have been meeting up with dog friends and watching our dogs interact and play.
 

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Riley's Mom
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I appreciate the replies. The last thing I want to do is ruin his temperament.

Just to explain, the reason we have been going to these groups is because everyone kept recommending them to me and explaining the importance of socializing dobermans at a very young age with all kinds of dogs and people. These groups do have trainers in with them and they aren't "a ton of dogs" it's usually like 4 or so.

We do NOT go to dog parks. I am not that stupid, lol.

The problem is I don't know anyone with dogs around here. I live in rural area and, like I said, was recommended by vets and breeders to go to these places I have been going to. Both of them said "ages 2 months to 6 months" and again, I was told to start "ASAP" so I did.

If these play groups are as bad as you are all saying, I will stop, but I am not sure how else to introduce him to other dogs then. I guess I can look for a daycare like suggested, will have to search around.

But please don't think badly of me for doing what I was told by so many. The whole reason I posted about it here is BECAUSE I care, and I am/was hesitant to go back, because I was worried it was damaging. Just wanted the confirmation.

Hanging outside places like mentioned sounds good, too. Just have to see where I can go.

Thanks!
 

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When I had Joe in an obedience class I met two people who got together with us after class, on the weekends usually, and we allowed our dogs to play. Usually one with a mixed breed girl brought her out to my place (also in the country) to run and play with Joe. That worked well for us.

You might ask your vet if s/he knows someone who has a puppy around Riley's age so they can get together. My vet has a day care and the first time out, they suggest bringing the puppy in a bit early and they will introduce one same size dog to the puppy to make sure all is well. Then they add more same sized dogs.

Also, I would talk to the people at the Day Care and explain YOUR concerns. I don't believe you are at fault. I think you are doing what we all suggest and that's to socialize Riley. I think the Day Care should be more sensitive to Riley's needs. We just need to help you figure out a way to get into a smaller group so you can safely continue.

You are at fault (LOL) by not having photos of Riley here. I would love to see your rambunctious pup. He sounds like a normal Dobie pup to me.
 
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Riley's Mom
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yep, I'm definitely going to be asking more questions as time goes on, and I'm going to voice my concerns to the trainer at this place today. The more knowledge I am armed with the easier it will be to make the right decisions and I appreciate the help.

Haha, yes, I will need to get some new photos up here soon. HE IS GROWING LIKE A WEED!

:)
 
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Well...actually there are some good replies here.

I was thinking more like the types of groups done at a Petsmart etc. If you have someone who knows what they are doing, the ages and size are similiar, then maybe. But you always take a chance.

I took that chance with Macy when she was young. A large Standard Snauzer attacked her. It took a long time to get her back. Had it not been for the professional handlers and my patience it was turning into a nightmare.

Actually, she was on leash at the lake we walked around. It was a stupid guy who allowed it to happen. He came up from behind and this startled her as well. So experiences have to always be good and positive.

You would not know that happend today to Macy. Handlers use her to socialize the other dogs she's gotten so good. But she also spent alot of time in Home Depot etc. I took her to the Fire Dept open house where there were tons of kids etc.

Still today if it were my dog...NO WAY! Handling classes ok. But free play with a bunch of people who generally don't know what they are doing is a nightmare waiting to happen.

Considering the pay that places like Petsmart offer, no wonder really. They asked me to teach their basic obedience at the CD level. The pay was $35.00 for six weeks! So there you have it. Anyone working for that price, weekly, for six weeks, has got to be not the sharpest trainer.

Everybody has an opinion on how to raise kids etc. So this is mine. For others things work differently. This is a choice you will have to make.
 
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