Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Atlanta; originally from rural south Texas (yes, cows, horses, and cowboys)
We definitely need to take Ben in for some training. So far we've been doing it ourselves and he's our first dog, first GSD. While he's been pretty easy to train--sits, rolls over, shakes, etc.-- he does have a lot of excitement/anxiety about going places and this is where the problem is (or one of them; the other is that he's young and very bouncy/excitable).
He is pretty quiet in the house, but needs to be in the room with people (usually me). He will follow me from room to room, even if my husband is in the living room. I usually sleep a bit later than my husband, and Ben will come out, eat, go outside to do his business, and come back to sleep by the bed until I get up. He usually starts getting SUPER excited (circling, pacing, panting, etc) when he sees us getting ready to go out. When we first got him, he would bark crazily until we opened the door so he could wait outside while we got ready. He was so afraid of getting left at home.
Now he just follows us (especially me) until we're ready to leave, then he barrels out of the house as soon as the door opens...but literally ONLY to the other side of the door. He will not get off the porch until we are ALL coming down the stairs. He literally waits for us all before he'll come out to the car port.
We got him in October from the local animal control (pound). He had been an emaciated stray. Nobody at the pound knew anything about where he was from other than the area of the city (Atlanta). He was very sick at first, but as he got better, his real personality came out. He's very sweet, but used to be too nippy when excited (he would nip, throw himself at our feet and roll over, wanting to nip and have his tummy rubbed at the same time). He used to nip/herd A LOT in the mornings as a "good morning greeting," but we have mostly gotten him to quit that. However, he still mouths/nips our 10 yr old son on occasion when he is excited/anxious about going somewhere and sometimes does it to me when I get home from work. He has a soft mouth: never leaves marks or scratches if he nips/mouths, lets us take food and toys out of his mouth, etc. Still, we want him to stop mouthing completely. Otherwise, he's very sweet, and puts up with being hugged around the neck and squeezed by my son, etc. However, he's anxious/excited about going somewhere, every time we go anywhere.
He HATES being alone/has separation anxiety. We can't leave him at home. He either goes to daycare, or waits in the car for us if we go somewhere to dinner or something.
Since I last wrote, we've made some progress on the car barking. Now he starts barking in the car when i) our son gets dropped off (whines and barks as he watches him walk into the school); ii) when we pass by his regular (daily) dog park, the doggy daycare he goes to, or Petco (which we visit regularly). He also does a frustration growl, which doesn't seem aggressive, more complaining if that makes sense. He never shows teeth or snarls. Just makes a lot of complaining sounding vocalizing.
Lately, I've been sitting in the back while my husband drives and "biting" Ben's scruff with my fingers while saying "NO" very firmly to him when he starts barking/whining/vocalizing. He has finally started responding to this and stops the behavior! I do have to do it several times before he finally settles down. (Also, if he's been exercised he's super good in the car and just sleeps or is calm.) I'm hoping to get to a point where I can go back to the front seat instead of having to sit back there and bite him. lol
Anyway, thanks again for all the great information. I definitely think he needs to go to training so that we have a firmer hand on him and also to deal with the separation issues he has. He won't even play at the dog park if my husband leaves to get something out of the car (just waits at the corner for him to come back into sight, even if my son and I are still with him). He even barks/cries if my son runs ahead of us on a walk--he absolutely hates for any of us to leave him.
Does this stuff go away or lessen with training? Or perhaps as time goes by? I mean the anxiety of being left alone/separated. We've had him five months. Everybody in my family loves him dearly and he is a good, good pup.