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Lack of Socialization

 Reviewed 2 March 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion
Dec 202015

"In your opinion, can any problem with a GSD be dealt with, and is 9 months too old to start training? I have a female that due to health problems missed out on a lot (not all) of her socialization, she seems nervous and not over lean on other dogs."

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Some parts of your question are not understandable, particularly the last part "she seems nervous and not over lean on other dogs"?

I'll try my best to guess and be more precise nonetheless.

As always, first we need some humor though.

dog problem and solution"Can any problem with a GSD be dealt with?"
No way! Got a problem?? See here what to do. mrgreen

"Is 9 months too old to start training?"
Waayyy tooo old, yes! See here what to do. mrgreen mrgreen

Where would we all be without some FUN joining our problems, huh? lol

So, you have a 9 months old female German Shepherd puppy, and the dog missed out on a lot of socialization, and you are wondering if you can still save the situation?

Socializing your dog is never too late.

The Puppy 101 makes the point clear.

It just requires ever more effort the later you start.


Yes, socialization never ends.

The problem with a 9 months old puppy, and likewise with an adult dog, is: The what's called facilitation slows down from an "explosion" from say age 5 weeks to age 6 months to a sluggish snail pace later. Some people say "priming" but that doesn't quite fit the bill of facilitation:

Every thought and every decision and every move you make and all your behavior is instigated by nerve impulses: a tiny "electrical current" running through the nervous system.

This is the same for dogs.

Now, nerve impulses can only transmit from a certain nerve axon to a certain nerve axon ... if the axons are connected, right!

You follow me so far, right?


Depending on which axons connect, and how many and where ... certain thoughts, decisions, body movements, and behavior will be facilitated = possible - or not!

You and likewise your dog will be able to think through certain thoughts - mark the vernacular! - and so to come up with a solution, to make certain decisions, to move your body in certain ways and at a certain speed (playing piano anyone?) etc.

Or you and likewise your dog will not be able.

That's why this nervous system development where axons grow to form new connections is called facilitation.

In short:

  • Everything you do today
  • and likewise what you don't do!
  • your job and your hobbies
  • your abilities
  • your successes and your failures
  • your pain and your joys
  • your wealth or scarcity
  • all your thoughts and behavior that have led to where and who you are today

... is the result of how your nerve axons connected during your childhood, and during drastic changes in your life.

The same with dogs.

Now, when you have a young puppy or when you get a rescue dog, because everything is new, a multitude of new sensory sensations is irrupting into the body: through ears, eyes, nose, taste, sense of touch. And they have to go somewhere, right?

This is why a young puppy - and a bit less so a rescue dog coming into a new environment - experience an "explosion" of new connections being formed: New thoughts and new behaviors being facilitated, to be easier later because the connections have already been established.

Frankly, at age 9 months I doubt there will be much of an "explosion" of new neuronal connections forming in your puppy's nervous system. Of course new connections will still be made, yes, but not so many, and more like at a snail's pace.

This is why learning at age requires concentration, while learning as a child is vastly unconscious, automatic.

Meaning: You can (and should!) still shape your dog's behavior going forward through comprehensive socialization NOW, yet it will take longer and more repetitions before the right new axon connections establish, and thus before your dog will behave the way you want.

Clearer now?

Conversely, what will happen if you wait a bit longer because you think "it's too late now anyway"?

Then obviously your dog will be less accustomed to new situations and environments (or not accustomed at all), and so what you call "dog behavior problems", those will increase.

The typical end result of lack of socialization I showed you in this dog question and answer: A poor outcome really, for both dog and dog owner!

So yes, socialize your 9 months old puppy now immediately, and not only with other dogs (yet primarily).


I would assume the Puppy Development Guide - Puppy 101 is a great, extensive reference guide what to do, when, how, how much, and why?

When you've read the book and you think it's not, let me know here why you think that way. And when you think "Yes, it is great" then kindly let others know via your book review. grin

If you are not into pure reading though, maybe seeing it all in the only live and multimedia New Puppy Diary is what you were missing until now?

Either way I am sure it would help you dramatically to raise a healthy and well-behaved adult dog.

No, that's the wrong word: My New Puppy Diary may well be necessary for many puppy owners to raise a healthy and well-behaved adult dog! Yes, that fits it better. wink



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