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Old 12-08-2012, 03:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Unsocialized, fearful adult dog

I don't even know where to start.

My friend's 3 year old spayed GSD tried to bite someone today. She says that she knows it is completely her fault because she never socialized her dog.

She's had her since she was about 10 weeks old. Outgoing, friendly puppy. We took our puppies to beginning obedience classes together, and she was great. She got carsick easily, so they just completely stopped taking her anywhere. The only place the dog has been in the last 2 and a half years is the vet clinic (where she hides behind her owners or tries to get under the chairs) or the grooming shop that she owns. That's it.

She is good with her owners. She listens to them. No trouble getting her off the couch, or taking things away from her. She's a very loving dog. And they love her very much. But...

When people come over to her house, they crate her because she barks at people, and they don't trust her. She barks and lunges at the neighbors every time they come out into their own backyard (chain link fence). I've told her over and over, that the dog isn't being protective, that she is AFRAID.

I know the dam and sire of this dog very well, and four of her litter mates (one is my dog). All fun, outgoing dogs that love kids. Except this one that has hardly left her home.

So here we are. She called me today, practically in tears, because her dog barked, lunged and then bit at someone.

She is horrified, and doesn't know what to do. She asked if she should start bedience classes. Get a behavioralist? I told her I would ask you all what you would recommend. I know, it's like shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped, but here we are.
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Russell ~ future show dog
Zelda ~ puppymill rescue Italian Greyhound
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If underlying temperament is good then you can probably make good progress with counter conditioning and lots of positive reinforcement.

I would suggest finding someone who is experienced with fearful dogs. Someone who uses BAT (www.functionalrewards.com) would be great. I prefer the functional rewards because I find that many food based positive trainers use food reward far too long and reward the wrong state of mind.

Make sure you get references.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Underlying temperament IS good. I told her that finding something that understood fearful dogs was crucial. I'll look into BAT. That would be great, but I hope I can find someone in Oklahoma that uses this. We aren't exactly progressive here.

I've watched her create this fearful dog out of a normal outgoing puppy. When she called today, she said, "You've been telling me for two and a half years that this was going to happen, and it has."

Thank you for your suggestions!
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~ Diane in Okla

Carly ~ AKC Ch, GCh pointed, HIC
Sage ~ AKC Ch pointed (chasing that last major), HIC
Russell ~ future show dog
Zelda ~ puppymill rescue Italian Greyhound
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You can contact Grisha Stewart (creator of BAT) and she may be able to recommend someone to you.
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Raven (GSD) - December 8, 2007
Kaiser (GSD) - November 2009
Holly (GSD) - March 24, 2011
Best Paw Forward
Champ's Fund
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