Healthy interactions with trustworthy dogs of all breeds is a crucial part of socialization!
It's easy for me to socialize my pups with other German Shepherd pups and adult dogs because I have a few GSD's. All my puppies have ample opportunities to interact with other puppies and reliable adult German Shepherds before we place them in their forever homes. Our puppies learn all the healthy dog communication signals in these interactions.
But have you considered socializing your pup with other breeds of dogs? I prefer to start young and expose my pups in a healthy manner to large and small breeds to cultivate a well socialized dog who is unfazed by new dogs in the real world.
But, image if your pup grows up and never sees a Mastiff or a Bulldog. Then one day, you're out hiking or walking the local trail and here comes a 200 lbs English Mastiff and your dog reacts.
Instead, let's be proactive.
Find reliable, trustworthy dogs or pups with good manners and preferably good obedience. - Find a friend or a trainer with a neutral dog who will completely ignore your pup. - Or a puppy who is similar in size and energy to your pup.
Keep both dogs on a loose leash.
Keep your interactions short.
Many times, we give our dogs too long to check out a new dog and we miss our dog's signal that they are uncomfortable. Let the dogs sniff and then call your pup away from the other dog. Rinse and Repeat.
Less is more!
Keep the whole experience short. Your pup may have 5 interactions that are 30 seconds to 2 minutes each and after 10 minutes your pup is ready to go decompress and absorb all they learned through the healthy interactions.
Watch your pup's body language!
Is your puppy always being chased? Your pup probably isn't having fun. It's trying to escape.
Tail tucked? TIme for a break
Hackles up? That's an involuntary defensive reaction. It's time for a rest.
Is one of the pups continually trying to hide behind you or under someone or something? This is an escape and avoid mechanism. It' important to listen to those cues.
Don't allow another dog to bully your puppy! Advocate for your pup and focus on lots of short, fun experiences.
End on a good note so your pup remembers a great experience.
Our puppies critical socialization window closes at about 16 weeks of age. My goal is to expose my pup to as many different breeds of dogs between 8 weeks and 16 weeks as possible. This will help them be the most well rounded, well socialized pup possible.