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It is quite a natural response for a young excited dog to jump up and nip at something that is being picked up e.g. a toy or small child. That is why I normally advise people with small dogs to never pick them up in situations where a larger dog is over-excited; often either the dog or the owner will get a bite in the excitement. This isn't an aggressive response, but as someone mentioned above, has more to do with impulse control. So I wouldn't worry too much.

I do understand the issue of socializing Wrigley with kids. I had the same problem when I was in graduate school with one of our dogs. The advice mentioned above, about standing in front of a school is very good and worked for us. Our dog was able to meet several kids, but on my terms. It is also important to select what kids you allow Wrigley to come in contact with - for all parties involved. I also make it a point to teach children how to approach our dogs, if they don't know how. For example, they should always ask the owner to pet the dog...

1) Do not approach from the front as this can be challenging to a dog i.e. head on while staring at the dog
2) put your hand out in a fist so the dog can smell you
3) wait for the dog to approach you before petting.

In an ideal world, there would be shared responsibility, on the part of parents, to properly educate their kids on how to approach new dogs. But it falls on dog owners, at the end of the day.

The other thing regarding socialization is that there are a lot of philosophies about how to properly socialize a dog. Of course, as a dog owner, you want your dog to play and run around, but taking a dog to a dog park and letting them run free with any and all, to me, is a recipe for disaster.

Socialization should not mean that your dog simply has free run to just meet and play with any dog or person it comes in contact with - which is the typical scenario you see at dog parks. It is the dog owners responsibility to determine what the boundaries are in each situation. I normally keep our dogs on leash until I have determined what dogs belong to trouble owners and vice versa.

Ultimately, socialization should be about exposing your dog to a number of different people, places, and animals - so that your dog learns to be comfortable in multiple settings. For example, when we are training a working dog - we teach the dog to ignore all outside distractions - so it can focus on the handler and work. A lot of people mis-understand this form of training, thinking that it makes the dog mean or aloof, but what you end up with is a very stable dog that knows how to respond to different situations without being over-excited. All the dogs that I have worked with in this capacity grow up to be very well-balanced stable dogs.

My own dogs are not working dogs, as such, but I feel that this philosophy works well until I can teach my dogs to respond to off leash situations without any worry.

You are quite right to be concerned about how to properly socialize your dog. There are liability issues with having a doberman biting or jumping on small children in the park.

I hope this helps and good luck with Wrigley!
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