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Old 05-11-2010, 04:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Fearful?

Ok, my wife and I have a beautiful GSD named "River." I introduced her in the Introduction forum a few weeks ago. She's about 6 months old, weighs 52lbs, and is in overall excellent health. We couldn't be happier with her. She's house-trained well, does well on walks, etc. We love her.

We are having one problem with her, however. While on-leash, when she sees another dog, she will bark and lunge, as if angry at the dog. She can also be scared of strange people on our townhome property and will bark and lunge at them as well, even some kids. At other times, she is fine with people. If we go into a friend's house who has kids, she is fine with them and even plays with them. I don't want people to get the wrong idea. In general, she is really good with people in public places. I took her for a walk yesterday and some people came out of their home to meet her and we walked up to them, let them pet her, and she even rolled over for them. We even took her downtown and walked around on a busy saturday - we had lunch at a cafe outside, and she just laid down and waited for us. She has never barked at any person in a public place.

I think she is a very submissive dog - we never had the problems that other people have with whining or barking in her crate, biting us excessively, chewing furniture, etc. She never really has done any of that. She does have pretty good drive though. She is obsessed with the ball. And, she knows her commands very well.

River has been going to doggy daycare for about 2-3 months now. We had to start her early, as my wife and I both work full-time and we didn't want her to be alone during the day for so long, especially crated. Well, a couple months ago, when I dropped her off, I wanted to stay and see how she interacts with the other dogs, as I was confused as to how she can be so aggressive with them on-leash, but get along so well in daycare. To my surprise, she seemed so scared of all the other dogs. As soon as they let her in the door, she was rolling over for every dog in there, except for the small ones. She was seemingly very frightened, but at the same time, she loves going. She gets excited and she can't wait to get in there with them.

Recently, we have taken her to a dog park (during off-times when very few people are there) and it's the same behavior. On-leash, she acts aggressive, but off-leash, she is scared of the other dogs (except the smaller ones) and prefers to hang around us. Both times, another dog has chased her, just for fun, and she has mistaken it for aggression and she runs away, scared! Yes, the dog was being a bit rough, but neither time was the other dog really trying to hurt her, imo. She just ran off, barking in a high-pitched yelp. After that, she just stayed hiding under our table at the dog park, barking at the large poodle who had scared her.

Over the past couple of months, we have had her in private obedience lessons to help with this. We are now in an intermediate obedience class, where she is doing very well. She will bark at the other dogs, but as she gets used to them, she barks less and less. We use "watch me" and she relaxes a bit. And she performs her obedience very well.

On walks, we use the "watch me" command and give treats whenever we see another dog. She has gotten much better, but we have to be so vigilant and keep an eye out for dogs. And if one sneaks up on us - forget it! Petsmart on a busy day is out of the question.

We thought we socialized her very well. We took her everywhere. Now, we are doing even more - we take her to a new park almost every day. This does seem to be helping as well.

We of course want to work with her as much as possible. I want to do agility, after her intermediate obedience class, and I'd like to get into tracking as well. Advanced obedience training and maybe schutzhund if she can do it. I've wanted a GSD all my life and she is a huge part of our family - we have no children (yet) and she gets every minute of free time we have.

My question is - what does everyone think are the chances of her "getting over" this? Do you have any other advice for us? We are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Will this turn into aggression as she matures? We will continue to work on this diligently, of course. She is just the most wonderful dog. Sorry this is so long!! I just get worried about her.
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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She is probably going thru a fear stage, very common at this age.
How you handle it is the answer for her getting over it. Don't correct her when she is reacting, just ignore it and move on. Don't coddle her when she acts fearful, it will re-enforce her behavior. There are soooo many threads on this, as it is all to common, unfortunately.
It could very well turn into serious behavior if you don't manage it now.
Dog park is something I would stay away from for now. Managed playgroup may be better for her at this time.
I would work on the LAT game with her, from the book Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. The book is great, worth every cent and more. Has your trainer given you suggestions to deal with this? Some training clubs have classes based on the CU book, I highly recommend it if it is available to you.
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'll tell you my experience and what I've gotten out of it from my perspective.

I took Masi to when she was around 4mths old to a puppy class, it was very unstructured, at the end it was a free for all for them to socialize.

Previous to this, Masi was fine with people/other dogs/animals,,ok, every week at class, it seemed like another dog would "jump" her,,not in a mean way, but in a boisterous puppy play way, Masi would mind her own business and chose not to hang with the other dogs, but it seemed like every week another dog was "on" her , this resulted in her starting to become very defensive with other dogs, IN class and OUT.

After the 4th class(I knew in my gut this wasn't right), I stopped the free for all at the end with her, she did NOT want to be bothered..After the 5th class, I yanked her out..It was not fair to her , a dog who did not appreciate being "jumped" to allow it to continue, and again, there wasn't much structure there..

I had to deprogram all this "stuff",,in public, she went into defense mode (I'm gonna get you before you get me) with other dogs, lunging at cars, lunging at people,

It took awhile, but now I can take her anywhere and be in the middle of tons of dogs at dog shows and she minds her own business, HOWEVER, she doesn't appreciate other dogs in her face/space so I respect that.

While it sounds like you've done a great job socializing, it does sound like she is more on the submissive side, and most likely on leash she is going into defense mode,,I'm gonna get you before you get me type of mentality..The doggie daycare sounds unstructured as do doggie parks.

Having another dog chase her (and she ran off terrified) is not doing her any favors. She does NOT know the dog wants to play, all she knows is to get away NOW.

I'm not saying you should 'stop' doggie daycare, it sounds like she enjoys going, but dogs chasing her, ganging up on her (even if it is in play) isn't helping her be a confident dog.

I would continue with your outings ON leash, doggie parks I'm not a real fan of, but if you can find another dog that is calm and not confrontational, let her play with that "type" of dog.

I'm sure others will chime in, just my experience and some ponderings
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakodaCD OA View Post
I'll tell you my experience and what I've gotten out of it from my perspective.

I took Masi to when she was around 4mths old to a puppy class, it was very unstructured, at the end it was a free for all for them to socialize.

Previous to this, Masi was fine with people/other dogs/animals,,ok, every week at class, it seemed like another dog would "jump" her,,not in a mean way, but in a boisterous puppy play way, Masi would mind her own business and chose not to hang with the other dogs, but it seemed like every week another dog was "on" her , this resulted in her starting to become very defensive with other dogs, IN class and OUT.

After the 4th class(I knew in my gut this wasn't right), I stopped the free for all at the end with her, she did NOT want to be bothered..After the 5th class, I yanked her out..It was not fair to her , a dog who did not appreciate being "jumped" to allow it to continue, and again, there wasn't much structure there..

I had to deprogram all this "stuff",,in public, she went into defense mode (I'm gonna get you before you get me) with other dogs, lunging at cars, lunging at people,

It took awhile, but now I can take her anywhere and be in the middle of tons of dogs at dog shows and she minds her own business, HOWEVER, she doesn't appreciate other dogs in her face/space so I respect that.

While it sounds like you've done a great job socializing, it does sound like she is more on the submissive side, and most likely on leash she is going into defense mode,,I'm gonna get you before you get me type of mentality..The doggie daycare sounds unstructured as do doggie parks.

Having another dog chase her (and she ran off terrified) is not doing her any favors. She does NOT know the dog wants to play, all she knows is to get away NOW.

I'm not saying you should 'stop' doggie daycare, it sounds like she enjoys going, but dogs chasing her, ganging up on her (even if it is in play) isn't helping her be a confident dog.

I would continue with your outings ON leash, doggie parks I'm not a real fan of, but if you can find another dog that is calm and not confrontational, let her play with that "type" of dog. I'm sure others will chime in, just my experience and some ponderings
This sounds like very good advice to me! Esp. the part about no dog parks - I don't like them and never have. A calm friendly dog to play with would be a great thing if you can find one.
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Think maybe I'd also back of the day care for a bit. Better if you can be around for support when other dogs are coming for a meeting. And be less overwhelming if fewer dogs at a time in a more controlled setting.

I also work so my pups have to be alone and crated all day. But that FINE because when I do get home (specially this time of year) I just put on my 'play clothes' and it's off to hike, meet dogs and their friends for a hike, off to dog class (more controlled than doggie day care), and socialization jaunts...

Watch this hiking video with my friends and their dogs... my Glory will also belly down when 'the big dogs' get near and too much, but she bounces back up, or comes to the humans for a bit of a break, and is off again almost immediately. It's not the belly up that's a problem, it if they don't recover right away. It's a good thing that they don't want to start a fight (so show their belly) but a bad thing if they are doing it from being fearful rather than cautious. At about 2:25 is the big interactions where Glory gets a bit taken down...


Hiking and moving along can be a much better way to socialize with dogs cause they have other things to sniff/smell/focus on than each other.
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i totally agree with Diane.............as i read your post, i am thinking No doggie day care. i don't think its the answer for her...........sometimes that can work the reverse....i think classes with a more controlled atmosphere are much better for her...........dogs that are fearful are more reactive onleash, there is no place for them to retreat, so they react accordingly..........

two things you can do, is get into some counter-conditioning stuff onleash..........if your walking and she sees a dog, person coming give her a yummie treat, turn and walk the other way, this takes time an patience but they finally get the idea, people, dogs = treat and thats a positive thing.........also desensitizing exercises to go along with the counter stuff.......if your dog is possessed with a toy/ball you have a piece of gold working for you, use the toy/ball to your advantage, if she is really focused on that ball, she won't give a darn whats going on around her............

i do not agree with free for all doggie play for dogs like this.........for dog interactions i would find some friends with mild mannered dogs, goldens, labs, etc, go walking with them, arrange playtime etc..............

if you work long hours, maybe arrange for a dog walker, etc.............

i know exactly what your going through i have a male similar to your female........at 6 months old you can get her through this if you address it properly........it will get worse if its not addressed..........congrats to you for seeing the problem and getting help!

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Old 05-12-2010, 11:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you all very much for the advice. We had her intermediate obedience class tonight and it was her first night with the Gentle Leader collar. I'm not sure what it does, but she was remarkable. She barked maybe once or twice, and only when there was a disruption or another dog moved very quickly toward her. Even then, she was really calm - it was like she was barking out of habit and not because she was really too scared. She responds so well to obedience training and we can't wait to do agility with her. We start that in early June.

And yes, I think the answers regarding stopping daycare are correct. It will be hard to do that in the next month, but after that it will be possible, and we will likely do that. We will look into a dog walker.

In the meantime, whenever we are on a walk and we see another dog, we have been doing the "watch me" command and then treats for the past 2 months. It works well and she is getting to the point where when she sees a dog, she turns to us and expects a treat. But there are times when a dog sneaks up on us and we don't have time to say "watch me" and treat her.

I plan on making obedience a huge deal - I want her to get so good at it that it becomes very reliable. She does very well at it - last night she was the only dog in obedience class who did the 20ft sit-stay with distractions (other dogs nearby).

Again, thanks so much for the replies and advice.
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Old 05-12-2010, 12:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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it sounds like your right on target with things.............i am sure you will move forward from here.......

best of luck!
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