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Old 05-08-2014, 12:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Advice On 4 Y/O GSD Settling In

Background: The lady that had him before me, older woman. She kept him as an outside dog, specifically for guarding. When I took him into my care(he's 4YO), I noticed he hasn't been groomed in forever. Took 3 hours of brushing to get most of the dead hair off, then we took at nice shower, and it was crazy how black the water was that came off. His teeth weren't in the best shape, with his back teeth having tartar build up. A few days later and they are looking better with brushing, and Denta-Stix.

Also, he had some anxiety with going into stores like Petco, Petsmart, and Home Depot whilst trying to socialize. He's gotten much better though. I've also taken him to the dog park. He doesn't play so much. He sniffs around, marks his territory, and just wants every one to pet him. He does seem to be the dominant male, some dogs will rush in barking like crazy but when they get to him, stop immediately.

Ontop of all that, he is untrained. Yes he is house broken, thank goodness, but with other commands like sit, stay, lay down, come, he was a novice. With 3 days work, he understands them all.

Another thing I wanted to mention is he has low ball & prey drive. Only way to motivate right now is doggie treats.


So here is where my question comes in, he is a working line GSD, of DDR Bloodline(looking for his pedigree). I understand that they have low ball and prey drive, is there anything I can do to increase it? Am I expecting to much from this guy at the moment considering all? He hadn't barked yet, just small whimpers. Any advice would be helpful.

If you know of any places to train, I live in Kennesaw, GA. I'm more looking for an experienced GSD trainer, as for basic commands and heels I can teach him myself.
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Old 05-08-2014, 01:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Also, just to mention he's been in my care for about 4 1/2 days.
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Old 05-08-2014, 09:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Congrats - you have really accomplished a lot in just a few days. He is one lucky dog. For your concern about increasing his drive, it could be that he has a good drive but is still adjusting to you. I would wait at least 2 weeks and continue to work on what he has learned. Then try playing tug and be sure to let him win at the end. For playing ball, 2 balls may interest him. Throw one, hopefully he will go for it, but then take the second ball and toss it - catch it - and if he looks interested - throw it - he goes after it and you grab the first ball and so on.
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Old 05-09-2014, 03:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Agreeing with Mary Beth here. Our guy was guessed to be a little over 5 years old (rescued from being used as a stud at a puppy mill) about 6.5 months ago from the shelter. Super sweet & wasn't super active. Probably partially from his background & getting used to us. He loved his toys, but didn't understand them much right away (first toy he had was at the shelter at his roughly 5 years old age), just knew they were safe to chew on. Once he understood the fun of the toys & chasing the balls (he's getting better at bringing them back & dropping them), he loves it. He also hung out with the humans more than the dogs the first few times at the dog park, now it's about 50/50. He too wasn't trained more than potty training at the shelter, but with us, he's learned those same things as yours & a few others. Takes time, effort, love & patience, but eventually some of that energy will most likely start to build up as you work with the dog. One day at a time. Hopefully others may have more for tips, but so far sounds like you're doing about what we did, & we've seen definite improvement. Good luck!

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Old 05-09-2014, 10:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Yes, I think you are expecting too much from this dog, too soon. Four and a half days is still the very, very, very beginning. He has had a huge change in his living arrangements.

It can take a dog a while to relax enough to start to show their true personalities in a new home. I have fostered a lot of German Shepherd Dogs, and in my experience it takes about two-three weeks to start seeing the real dog. Some dogs take longer, but I can't think of any who have taken less than a week.

It does sound like perhaps his former owner did not "do" a whole lot with him? If that is the case, you might be causing more harm than good in taking him to so many places so soon. He could be so overwhelmed that he is shutting down even more than he would simply because of his move. I need to caution you that what you see now, behaviorally, might not be who he really is. And his true self can emerge in what appears to be a sudden manner. While shut down like this he might appear to be a very tolerant dog at the dog park, but one day he might decide that he has had enough of other dogs running up on him and he might decide to handle it in a way that gets you and him in trouble.

I think that training with him would be a great way to get some focus to your "work" and it will help establish a strong bond between the two of you. I think having an experienced, qualified set of eyes watching and giving feedback is very valuable, regardless of how much experience you may have. Good luck finding a great trainer to help guide you forward.

If I were the owner of this newly adopted dog, I would dial it back a good deal as far as the socializing goes. I would spend more time on training, just the two of us, and exercising and playing. Try different toys. Try different food rewards. Dogs have preferences. Find out the things that really rock his world and then use those things as high value rewards and motivators. You have had him such a short period of time! You're still in the first date haze! You are going to see him emerge from his shell, get a clearer picture of who he is as time goes on.

He sounds like a lovely boy and I look forward to hearing more about him.
Sheilah

Last edited by sit,stay; 05-09-2014 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 05-09-2014, 11:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I think you are overdoing it and pressuring the dog into too many situations in a short amount of time. It may backfire, it often does. Some dogs initially do not obey commands given by strangers. So he may have known the 5 commands but did not obey them or he learned the 5 commands in 4 days.
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Old 05-09-2014, 12:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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this dog needs to get to know you and build a bond with you
that wont happen in 3 days
stay home with him and let him learn you are the leader in the house
perhaps in a week or two when you see his true colors he will surprise you with what he knows
it takes a minimum of 2 weeks for an adult dog to settle in
often up to a month

i would add also you are taking huge risks taking him out and about this way
what if he had dog aggression that you were not aware of until he went to the dog park?
you could have put your new dog at risk as well as the others at the dog park
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Old 05-09-2014, 03:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I understand dog parks are risky. Epically on hot days. The only reason why we went there, is that we were jogging on the track for about an hour, and walked for 30 minutes, so we stopped in the dog park for fresh water. He seemed very interested in it, so I let him wonder in the park for 30 minutes. At the time there was only about 6-7 dogs.

So I guess for the time being, I dial down on the human socialization, and stick to bonding and training.

I do appreciate all the advice. I've taken all of it into consideration and will act accordingly.
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Old 05-09-2014, 05:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
he has low ball & prey drive
East European line have a very high prey drive, if he's not used to play ball, you may find it difficult teaching him to play ball, but, don't worry, he will get better.
On one hand you are doing right thing keeping him off stress by walking a lot with him. But, don't wait him to be reactive, he is living in stress of losing his home, and will remain like that for next 2-3 months. Being a prisoner for so long, he's absolutely overwhelmed by so many new things in a short period of time, he is drained emotionally, don't continue walking into populated areas with lots of distractions, let his doggy soul rest and get over what happened to him. Take him to woods, fields, some nature reserves, where are no people and no dogs - it would help you to build a bridge between you and your dog. Just you and him. Start writing diary on him, try to observe his behaviour instead of testing him.
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