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New Dog, Very Challenging
Today I drove four hours to Indiana to adopt a 7 month old female German Shepherd from a county humane society. I just got home a few hours ago.
The story with Kali is that she was purchased as a puppy by a family with small children. The mom couldn't handle her, and the father worked all the time. She has obviously had no training at all. She jumps up on people, and I can imagine her knocking kids down. Kali is very happy to meet women, but not so much men. I was putting her outside just now when she didn't want to go, and I think she bared her teeth at me just a little as I pushed her out the door. When I reached to grab her collar, she shrunk back as though I was going to hit her. I suspect that the dad in her family must have hit her for reasons she did not understand, probably discipline delivered hours later after whatever she was supposedly being punished for.
So I am starting not just from scratch, but in the hole quite a bit. She has every bad habit there is. I want Kali to be aggressive, just not against me, so I want to correct her, but just not too much. It is a fine line, and not very easy to accomplish. I am going to start with a pocket full of treats to get her to understand the idea of accepting commands, or at least coming to me when called. No one has done that for her before. She is very smart; she started whining when I picked up a leash and attached it to my male's collar while she was crated. She knew the leash meant leaving; she whined the instant I touched it.
I think I have a great dog here. She is purebred and eligible for AKC registration. I suspect she has a European pedigree. It is a crime against all that is right and holy that a dog this fine could be at a county pound, which is why I drove four hours to get her.
I want to do everything right, and I will be reading a lot on this site in the next few days. But for the love of shepherds, please help me! I feel like I am in over my head. All suggestions are appreciated. Thank you.
You do not want her to be aggressive. You might want her to be protective but that is a natural instinct. You don't ever want to correct growling though. Just remember that this is all super new to her and she is trying to protect herself. She has to learn to trust you.
She is scared right now so you need to minimize stress. If you want her to go outside toss a handful of treats or yummy food (cheese or chicken) out there and let her run out there after them. Do the same to get her into the house.
As onyx'girl said, she needs tons of structure right now. Reward her for everything she does that is what you want, even if it's the tiniest thing. Avoid petting her on the head, or grabbing her collar. You may even need to avoid looking at her initially. Treat like a pup, keep things positive, simple and structured. And make sure she gets lots of leashed walks so she can burn off some of that anxiety. IF she is afraid of you, you should be the one walking her.
I wouldn't even let her out without a leash yet. You don't know if she is a runner or jumper or if she would come back in any of these cases.
Agree with Ruth too, aggression is something you don't need to tap into. Especially when it is fear based.
Reminds me of my girl! Maybe there is a trainer or behaviorist who can help you one on one :-) She is gorgeous.
I'd use a short lead around the house (cheap one from $ store with loop cut so it's just flat & straight) so you will not be "grabbing the collar". I would not "push" the dog anywhere but rather lure/bring/take her out side.
If she's responsive to food, I would call her to me with food to pick up the lead (see cheap short lead note). I'd be using a lot of lures and rewards right now.
So congratulations on your "Challenge" -- Maybe that should be her name?
Petty much just gonna expand on what's been said first this:
No training during this time you want to develop a bond with your dog. A getting to know your dog period his has been proven to develope fewer handler/dog "issues" with K9 teams, I did not do that with my rescue GSD, I had "problems" but it all worked out in the long run. :)
I just got a rescued dog – what do I do? | stickydogblog
I had "people "aggression issues you seem to have "fear" issues. Both take time and patience. Both need the same solution your dog needs to look to you for guidance. Your dog should not pick and chose who's a problem that's your job and you need to show him, he can trust you and what normal interactions look like.
Leerburg | Who Pets Your Puppy or Dog
Very similar to this:
Five Golden Rules for Working with Fearful Dogs by Nicole Wilde | Fearfuldogs' Blog
Finally don't screw up your hard work by having a bad encounter, a dog fight at a Dog Park or bad encounter with "I thought my dog was friendly folks" will show your dog that "you" can't protect him!
Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea
"My" personal belief is that in addition to the obvious possibility of a fight, if your dog runs around out of control with a pack of dogs he learns you don't matter!
I'm sure once you put a lot of time and training into your dog that is most likely not the case but if you put a lot of time in training into your dog why take the risk?
Are Dog Parks a Good Idea for Service Dogs? | Working Like Dogs
Three Dogs Who Shouldn’t Be at the Dog Park or Daycare | Robin Bennett
To start leash work:
My guys were all taught to ignore other dogs and I never put them in a position to be attacked or struck
by another dog. I never had leash reactive dogs but if you do:
Good luck and have fun with your dog. :)
Patience and structure, she's very young and you can help get her over her past life!
I took in a girl from a very similar situation. She was a lot of work getting her through her fears but she grew up to be wonderful. Although she never did get over her distrust of men...
Just want to add one thing to all the great advice you got here. In relation to the collar grab reaction, use lots of treats so she is conditioned to the collar grab as something positive.
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