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Old 12-17-2012, 06:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question New Dog Timid Around Fiancee

Hi all!

I'm new to the forums, but have been stalking them a bit over the last few weeks.

My fiancee and I just got our first dog together. Her name is Nevada, and she is an 11 month old GSD. She came from a local breeder/kennel, praising her for her socialization with dogs, cats, people, etc.

We've discovered in the few days we have had her, that she seems to have bonded quite a bit with me, but not my fiancee (who is heartbroken over it... Nevada was supposed to be "his" dog). She won't let him hear her. When he tries to take her outdoors for a walk, he either has to corner her, or I put the leash on for him. If he so much as looks in her direction, she will move out of his line of sight.

We can't understand why this is. The only thing I can think of is his size. He's over 6 feet tall, broad shoulders, long black beard. Maybe she finds him scary? He is a big teddy bear... he speaks softly to her. He's gotten down to her level, trying to reassure her that he is not the bad guy.

Any suggestions, or tips/tricks on what we can do to get her to warm up to him would be appreciated. I hurt for him, because of this.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Was he there when this pup was selected?

Did she show these signs at that time?

I'd say give it a few more weeks...if she still doesn't warm up... I'd consider returning her to the breeder and getting another pup. JMO

One more question, why did you both decide on an 11 month old and not a younger pup? She might just be warmer towards females cause of how she's been brought up up until you guys got her.

I feel bad for him too =(
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Was he there when this pup was selected?

why did you both decide on an 11 month old and not a younger pup?
We actually planned to adopt from a local SPCA, but all of their dogs (currently) had food aggression, and were not socialized enough to be a good match around kids.

The breeder/kennel owner said her hips were not 100% - and that they could not accept less than 100% in their breeding program. We had not met her before the day we took her home

The day we picked her up, she was pretty spooked of both of us - understandably. But the next day, you could see a big difference in that she seemed to gravitate towards me more.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The day we picked her up, she was pretty spooked of both of us - understandably.
Just for future reference, it is not normal for an 11 month old pup to be spooked by new people.

Highly suggest your fiance and the pup get into a POSITIVE training class together. He should be the source of all things good... food, treats etc. but don't force her to interact with him.

It would likely be easier for her if your fiance ignored her for the most part until she comes to him and then he can offer her a HIGH reward. He should avoid leaning over her or cornering her. She will be more likely to investigate him if he is low to the ground (sitting/kneeling) and giving her a side profile.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just for future reference, it is not normal for an 11 month old pup to be spooked by new people.
I only figured that going from one home she has known her whole life to a new home with two strange people she met only an hour prior, would cause this reaction. But you think she should have been perfectly OK going home with us?

This worries me even more...
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I guess for me it would depend on what "pretty spooked" means. If she was just sort of quietly avoiding paying much attention to you guys, I wouldn't be too worried, although it may be a sign that she hasn't had much socialization. If she was cowering and actively fearful, I'd be more concerned that she may have a weak temperament--but again, it could also be a sign that the breeder just didn't have much time to work with her and she's never learned to be comfortable around new people. How does she react to new situations, other dogs, people you pass on walks, etc. now that she's used to you?

As far as your fiance, a lot of dogs are afraid of men because of their generally bigger builds, deeper voices, etc. A lot of men have also been socialized to have more assertive or even aggressive body language when compared to women, which may also scare nervous dogs.

I agree that going to positive training classes will be a great thing for building a relationship between your dog and your fiance. He should strive to be 100% positive at this point. Clicker training is fantastic for this.

At home, he should mostly ignore her but always have treats on him. If she approaches him, he should give her a treat without looking at her. If she's even in his general vicinity, he should toss her treats without looking at her. Basically, teach her that he's not going to do anything that could even remotely be interpreted as threatening, and he is also a walking treat dispenser. He's 100% good things, not scary! Getting down on her level is a good thing, as long as he's not staring at her while he does it. When I took in dogs who were afraid of men, I would have my ex sit on the floor while we watched TV and toss treats to the dog while otherwise ignoring it, just to give an actual example of what I mean.

By the same token, he should not be leashing her right now. If she's comfortable once she gets out of the house walking with him, then he can walk her after you leash her--but again, he should be ignoring her except to do positive training (easiest way is to always have a treat in his hand, and when she approaches, give it to her). Personally, I think getting out and moving together while ignoring each other is great for helping the dog feel comfortable with someone. However, if she's really fearful, being leashed to him and put in new situations with him may just reinforce that, so if that is the case, you should probably be the one walking her for the time being.

I also think he should handle her feeding, although he should do so by setting her bowl down and then walking away to a distance where she feels comfortable. If he can be in the room, great, but he may have to leave if she's really fearful. Again, he should be sure not to look at her too much and especially not to stare at her while she's eating.

Basically, his rule of thumb should be to mostly ignore her, but reward her as often as she'll let him. Reassure him that this is actually a fairly common problem with puppies, rescue dogs, and undersocialized dogs (at least in my experience). 11 months old is old for it to still be happening with a pup, but as I said it could be that she has just not really been around men (or men like your fiance) before. It is nothing personal and many, if not most dogs get over it fairly quickly as long as you don't force it and accidentally reinforce her fear.
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just to add to the story... my fiancee informed me that when I left for work today, she immediately went and hid in her crate and refused to come out at all. Which is a major step backwards.

He couldn't even get her to go outside before HE had to go to work, meaning she hasn't been outside since I last took her and I won't be home for another several hours.

We've tried the treats thing. She won't eat anything that he has touched. He's tried ignoring her (he needs to try harder, not going to lie) but for a man who loves dogs it is difficult and he most certainly is taking it very personally lol

I do appreciate all of your tips and advice... I feel like the breeder lied to use though. She said this dog had been extensively socialized with all typed of dogs, people, kids, and cats... which to me would indicate she was comfortable with men.

Oh well. We'll just have to take it one day at a time
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Something is definitely wrong with this dog. Maybe a combination of poor socialization and weak temperament. Her not so 100% hips might not have been the only reason for the breeder to give her up. You are in for a lot work with questionable hopes.
I would return her if you are looking for a nice stable dog.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have to agree with wolfydog after your last post. That really is not encouraging.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have the worst feeling in my gut now :\ I really want to hope that she will come around, but deep down inside I just... don't see it happening? I mean, after 4 days a dog should be getting less afraid, not more so, right?

I am going to contact the breeder tomorrow and try to figure out what is going on. My fiancee doesn't want me to (as mentioned, this has been a life-long dream of his, to own a GSD - and she is a beautiful one at that).

Thank you all SO so much.
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