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Socialization Essentials

Safely exposing your pup to new people, places and things is a process called socialization. It’s an extremely important job for every puppy owner.

To grow up well-mannered and confident, German Shepherd puppies need to learn how to gently interact with people and get along with dogs and other pets. Socialization is most effective while a pup is forming her first opinions about the world, which happens from the time she is about 2 to 6 months of age. This is the best time for a pup to learn that people can be trusted, new dogs can become friends and that new experiences can be fun.

Dogs tend to grow up gentler and more confident when they receive early socialization. This is particularly true of GSD’s. German Shepherds are an odd mix of pushy and sensitive.

Developed properly through positive socialization, these seemingly opposite traits make for a well-rounded, confident dog that knows when to be friendly and when to protect. Proper early socialization can be your best insurance against fear reactions that might result in aggressive behavior toward people or pets.

Don’t wait to start socializing your GSD pup, because by the time she’s 1 year old, her understanding of what’s safe and what is not will be strongly formed. Early and repeated exposure to friendly, gentle people of all ages, and appearances will help your pup learn that people in general are kind and trustworthy. GSD pups need to meet and Play with friendly dogs of all sizes, shapes and ages.

German Shepherds are naturally protective, a trait owners usually value in them. However, if a shepherd is not well-socialized, she may become overly suspicious of the family’s friends as well as stranger, and this can lead to unwanted aggression. GSD’s tend to become unduly protective of their family, especially the children, unless the owner takes time to socialize the dog to friendly strangers. Without regular, positive exposure to stranger, the dog has no way of telling the “good guys” from the “bad guys”.

The more positive experiences a pup has, the more confident and adaptable she will be at maturity, so begin your pup’s socialization right away. And don’t stop socializing once the pup grows up-keep taking her on outings to new places and introducing her to new people and friendly dogs. This will help keep her social skills in top form. The time you spend socializing your GSD, first as a puppy and later as an adult, will benefit the dog tremendously and build a strong, trusting bond between you.