Help Socializing With Smaller Dogs


New Member
Hi! We adopted a 20 month old German Shepherd about 2 1/2 months ago and overall she is a great dog! She's got a ton & a half of energy, of course, but she learns very quickly and wants to please. We're trying hard to socialize her a lot with other dogs and she has Pit/Lab/Retriever/Chow friends who she gets along perfectly with. They'll run & play for hours. It's a completely different story when I take her to my parents' house, though. They have a Maltese and Melody behaves very differently with him than with her similar sized friends. She lunges at him, ignores all the signals he gives that he doesn't want to play, barks at him and generally freaks him out. She does the same on walks- she might pull for a minute to go see a big dog, but she will lunge and bark and growl at little dogs. Her ruff is never raised and her tail is always wagging, so it seems to me she just wants to play with them, too. But her roughness makes my parents and other dog owners pretty nervous and I need to find a way to teach her to play more calmly around smaller dogs. She's going to her first trial day of doggy day care tomorrow, and I'm going to ask them to watch her to make sure I'm interpreting what's going on correctly. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?


Honored Member
You might find this thread about barking at small dogs useful.

I don't think that all dogs will necessarily be able to play with all dogs. When dogs play they get excited and forget a lot of the rules we make up for them. I've had to work with my dog to stop him playing with meek dogs. Generally I keep my dog leashed or under close control when we are near other dogs unless I know they'll be okay with him. To be honest mine plays exactly the same way with almost all dogs but some dogs can cope better with his rough growly play than others. Like you I try to respect the unease/fear that other owners and dogs feel.