Adopted GSD that's very submissive. - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 11-24-2012, 02:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Adopted GSD that's very submissive.

I adopted Zola from petco in June. She is a great dog wonderful with kids and other dogs. The only problem with her is she is seems to be scared of me. I never yell at her or hit her. She will go out and play with kids and wife but if I try to play with her she will just cower down and won't move. Sometimes if I make a sudden movement she will cower and pee. I was just wondering if there's a way I can help her build her confidence back up. I don't want her to be scared of me. I'd like to be able to play ball with her outside and run around with her. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is kind of a difficult problem to answer online, I think, just because it could be several things. My general advice is to do positive training with her. I like clicker training for fearful dogs, because it is fun and because they have to think and figure things out for themselves but are never punished, only rewarded, it can really boost their confidence. It also will improve your relationship with her and create a bond of trust between you, plus help you learn your dog's body language so you can tell what she likes and what makes her uncomfortable. edit for clarity: I mean you personally do the training, not have your family do it (although that isn't bad). It doesn't even have to be that time-consuming, just 15 minutes a day can help.

Is she only afraid of you when you try to play and make sudden movements, or is she always nervous around you? I have seen some people, mostly men (I'm assuming your sex here based on the wife and kids; forgive me if I'm wrong), who play really aggressively or forcefully with dogs, which can scare more sensitive ones. Pay attention to your body language--are you getting in her face to drop the ball, wrestling with her, etc.? She may just not like to play like that. You may have to learn to back off and play the kind of games she likes.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No i don't try and play rough with her. I just try to throw her the ball or a stick and try to get her to go after it. When I'm outside she won't play fetch or even run around yard with me. As soon as i go in she will play with jess n kids. I had a shepherd prior to her and she used to play fetch and catch frisbee with me all the time. So i was just trying to train zola to do the same. She seems to be real submissive to me at least. Shes always rolls over on her back. She nudges my hand for attention all the time. Which I was told i should ignore her when she does that but easier said then done she is real lovable. If you look at pics in profile she was real skinny when I got her and looked like shes been through alot. I guess I was just looking for ways to build her confidence. I read things like lowering your head under hers helps or letting her win in tug of war which she won't play anyway. She does like to run so I've been riding my bike and she runs along the side. Which she loves to do that and go for walks. She also freaks out when we leave.


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Old 11-24-2012, 09:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sudden movements do scare her one time i noticed her close her eyes and show her teeth like something was going to happen to her. I think shes improving I've had dogs forever and just never came across this problem. Of course she is also the first one ive ever adopted.


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Old 11-24-2012, 10:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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awe, poor zola.
I can say to try and sit down with her eye level and instead of trying to play catch or throw balls you can start petting her and kissing her, giving belly rubs and etc! build a bond, then maybe after she loosens up you can show her how to catch.

you adopted her a WHILE ago, so I have no clue what to do. I feel so bad !

But you dont need a clicker, I never used one.. you can simply rewards her with treats after showing her love :P hopefully that works..
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The reason I recommend a clicker (a marker word can also be used, but a lot of people find the clicker easier at first) is that the dog gets instant feedback. In my experience, it builds confidence much more quickly than less focused training. Your dog learns exactly what you want, while also learning that failing to figure that out right away isn't going to earn punishment. It's just a very clear form of communication. Dogs like having clear boundaries, and also positive encouragement. That's what gives them confidence.

I do agree though that the big thing is just spending low-pressure, positive time with the dog, with a lot of rewards. Honestly, even if you just sit there feeding her treats, you're probably going to progress. I think biking with her is actually a really great thing to do, because you guys are spending time together doing something she loves (running) without a whole lot of pressure on her, so it's just a fun thing to do with you. I think if you keep that up, you'll eventually get the relationship you want with her.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You are right! I did hear the clicker is a lot smoother training wise, Never got it though :P but I do the clicking sound with my mouth LOL!

You are also right with the "even feeding treats is showing progress" DEFINITELY agree
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I also agree with using a clicker. It's very neutral and only means one thing. Whereas our voice (even if we aren't aware of it) can be LOUD, angry, happy, disappointed, confused......... many things and most can be negative with a sensative dog who may have been abused.

From the start, the clicker is ONLY good, only positive and we have to shut up when doing the training. So removes so much of the stress the dog may be feeling no matter all our good intentions.

Happy happy fun working with and around your pup when your dog is ALWAYS right, ALWAYS being rewarded, ALWAYS set up to be brilliant is such a confidence booster for the dog. And puts you in the wonderful position of being the treat/fun giver.

Great information ---> Clicker Training the Rescue Dog - The Dog Zone

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Old 12-12-2012, 05:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I really haven't changed much just kept petting her and feeding her treats. She has improved dramatically. Her confidence seems to be drastically improved. She will play fetch with me now and i can teach her things without her cowering and peeing all the time. Shes more protective of the house. Shes still perfect with my little dog they play all the time and she is surprisingly gentle with him and great with kids. It's been 6 months now i guess she just needed time. I got very lucky shes a great dog.


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