Almost 8 months old, fear issues? - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 03-20-2012, 04:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Almost 8 months old, fear issues?

I saw someone else post about a non-Shepherd, so since this is the only animal board I can access from work(home computer is dead and can't replace at this time), I'm going to ask here.

I have 3 dogs, my GSD mix that I posted about in the health section, a 9 year old Australian Shepherd and an almost 8 month old Aussie/Border Collie mix, Myka, that I am having some difficulties with. I adopted her at 3 months old and we had house breaking issues from the get go. I know all puppies differ, but it's just a little frustrating when you know they can hold it longer than they do becuase they hold it all night, but then want out every 10-20 minutes when not crated and there's nothing medically wrong with them.

I took her to puppy class and she did great in the class. I signed up for obedience from there and the first 2 classes she did great, the 3rd she ignored me for half the class, the 4th she ignored me completely. The only thing she did during the 4th class was a down stay, which was supposed to be a sit stay but she would not sit for me no matter what and the instructor said if we didn't mind they could do a down stay, so I figured something was better than nothing. The 5th we skipped because I was sick and the last class she again ignored me for half of it, but at least it wasn't the whole class. She also started doing what I've termed "slaying". I'd ask her for a sit, which she knew and did with no problem up till then, and she'd sit but them immediately go into a down/lay down. I tried what the instructor said which was stepping into her when she went to lay down, but she'd still go into a down regardless. Because of her ignoring me I decided to take a break from actual class and just work with her at home because it really doesn't pay to go to a class and stand there for an hour doing nothing because your dog won't do anything you're asking her to do. Now that she's a little older and her attention span is hopefully better, I will be signing her up for the next obedience class, but until then I hope someone can give me some advice.

I live in a suburb so she's heard all sorts of sounds since I got her, granted when I first got her I still lived with my mom as the house I bought had to have a few things done before I could move in(like a new deck with stairs going down into the yard put on so I didn't have to walk my dogs out the front door and around to the back when they needed to go out) and she had an entirely wood fence around her property so the dogs couldn't see out of the yard. I have wood on my neighbors side as they have dogs and the rest is chain link. But I digress from the topic, Myka's heard all sorts of noises since I got her and yet she reacts fearfully to noises, really just started in the last couple months, and barks at people she sees outside the fence and wants to run away, but she's not scared if she meets people outside of the house, a little timid, but not run away scared. For example of noise fear, Sunday night I was laying in bed watching tv and had the windows open. Someone pulls up on the street, gets out of their car, shuts the door and arms it. Myka gave a little bark, then jumped off the bed and ran out into the hall. She came when I called her and I praised her for coming. But I'd really like her to not be scared of every single noise she hears nor bark at and run away from people outside our fence for the rest of her life.

I've also been having some problems with teaching her to walk. She doesn't fight the leash, but she's scared to go on a walk. I unfortunately hurt my knee not long after I got her so I wasn't able to walk her as much as I would have liked. The first time I took her on a real walk instead of just a short one I took my Aussie too since I'd noticed some fear and my Aussie doesn't react fearfully to anything(except the vets office). Myka was scared, but not super bad. We did encounter a dog and my Aussie gets SUPER excited when she sees other dogs and will vocalize at times. Since I don't want Myka to start doing that I took her by herself the second time and she was scared of everything, even reacting fearfully to a parked car, that wasn't running, just parked on the street! She also won't do anything when on the walks and won't even react to a treat right in front of her nose. I would like to be able to take her places on her own and not have to bring my Aussie with everywhere just so she's not super scared, but I don't know how to stop the fear.

I've never dealt with this kind of thing before and really don't know where to start. The training place I take Myka doesn't just do obedience, but also deals with behavior problems and does private sessions so yes, I could do that. But if there is something I can do by myself, I'd rather start there and go to the trainers if I can't make any headway on my own.

I guess the place I start is with her fear, but where do I start? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-20-2012, 04:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I believe your pup to be fearful due to genetics and it won't just go away.

You will have to do everything in baby steps. In other words don't force things on her. Let her observe things from a distance. Increase her exposure very slowly. She is overwhelmed easily so you have quite a task ahead of you.
If genetics are the cause as I suspect then she will probably need some management for life.
Since I'm not an expert and can't see your dog I reccommmend you find a pro in your area to evaluate her.

You may not be getting a lot of responses right now because there have been so many of these threads lately.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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While it could very well be genetics, but maybe in a different capacity? She was a little timid when I went to the shelter to see her, but a lot of dogs, puppies or adults, can be scared in that situation. Once the guy that worked there got her out of the dog house in her kennel and handed her to me she warmed up quickly and was jumping all over me when I set her down.

She was also all over my nephew at Thanksgiving and I thought she'd be a little scared of him because she was scared of a little girl that came to our puppy class with her parents and their puppy.

She wasn't scared of noises from the get go though. The shelter got the puppies from the people that owned the mother, she was a working Border Collie and I know those genetics can be different than say a show bred Border Collie.

I guess I'm just confused because her behavior has been mixed, one time she's perfectly fine, another she's fearful. Like I had a guy from the city come to inspect my deck and she was in the yard, she didn't make a peep when she saw him and was squirming in my arms trying to get down to go see him, but the next time she saw someone she barked at them and wanted to run away.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have a working line puppy who is seven months old and she has never exhibited the fears you are describing.

Same for my 5 year old working line GSD

Dogs ususlly exhibit confidence or fear or something in between.

You mentioned a number of issues of fear.

Honestly if it's genetics or not you still have to manage your fearful dog.
My original advice still stands but maybe someone else will give you the tips you need or want.
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Old 03-20-2012, 07:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I didn't mean to sound rude, sorry if that is how it came across. The only working line dogs I really know anything about behaviorwise are German Shepherds so I didn't know if behavior between them and working Border Collies differed. I just don't understand how if it is due to genetics it wasn't this bad when she was younger. Would it not have been bad then and just got worse as she got older? The only instance of fear when she was younger was at the shelter, and that wasn't the outright fear she's showing now, just a little timidness which can be explained by the shelter environment as there are plenty of adult dogs who are super friendly and not fearful, but put in the shelter environment they become fearful until removed from it. Luckily the trainers I use, as I said in my original post, do do private sessions and deal with behavior problems as well as teaching obedience. I will contact them and see what they say.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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keep in mind this a border/aussie cross.

I have aussies, and I know alot of borders. I think some of them can be quite sensitive to especially noises and I'm sure alot has to do with genetics as well ..

I have one aussie who's bombproof, my female, she has noise phobias, like guns, thunderstorms, fireworks. She's also a very 'soft' dog.

What I would suggest is to take her out with your other aussie if even he barks at people/dogs she is going to pick up on that confidence (maybe the bad habit of barking to but I'd rather have a barking confident dog than a marshmellow

Continue with your classes, I've found wtih my sensitive aussie, and my bombproof one, if they dont want to do 'something', there is no amount of "making" them do it, they will shut down faster than I don't know what. They don't take corrections well.

I had to deprogram everything when it came to training my aussie, (which was hard for me to do having had pretty easy trainer gsd's)..It had to be purely positive, with my aussies, or they'd just shut down and give you that 'forgettabout' attitude.

Just a couple of ideas and some of my experience with my own dogs
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice. I will take her out with my Aussie then and hope Myka gets better being with her. I just hope she doesn't always need to use Dizzy(Aussie) as a crutch because Dizzy is older and I'm sure you know the typical life span of an Aussie is up to 15 years, but could be more, could be less so Dizzy won't be here all of Myka's life to be a crutch.

The funny thing is the every day noises scare her, but yet the thunder during our first storm of the season didn't faze her. She did "what the heck was that" when the first boom of thunder happened, but then she fell asleep on the bed after that. I'd think if every day noises cause her fear, that thunder definitely would have.

Seeing as I don't know how to get her to stop the barking and running away, I'll probably still get a trainer to do a private session so I can get that under control.
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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You'll be happy to know one of my trainers thinks this will just get worse too if I don't get her on the right type of training plan. I've got a call in to her, hoping she can call me tonight after work, but if not she should be able to call me this weekend since I'm free all day both days. Depending on what she says, I'll probably be making an appointment with her for a private session.

I'll still take Myka out with Dizzy so Dizzy hopefully transfers some calmness(except when other dogs are around) to her.
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