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Old 12-31-2012, 07:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 8 month old scared of other dogs

Hey guys,first off glad to finally be a part of this forum. I have gotten a lot of great info from here. I have a 8 month old GSD who is scared of most dogs. If a dog runs up on him to fast he will start crying and run towards me. Today i tried bringing him to the dog park alone (I have another dog that he normally goes with and he will just play with him the whole time) and trying to get him comfortable around other dogs. It was going well for a while. He started sniffing other dogs and socializing. It took a bad turn when he ran after another dog and that dog jumped at him in a playful way it scared my dog to death. He started whimpering and "yelling" so I got him and left the park to prevent him stressing out more. I want to fix this problem before he gets older and to prevent him from becoming aggressive towards other dogs. Any advice?
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would quit going the dog park. You can't control the situation or what other dogs do and if your dog keeps having bad experience after bad experience it will make training harder.

I would seek out a good dog training place and take classes there. The dogs there are more controlled and the trainers can give you good advice. Overall I would work on two things:

1. Desensitization. Which would be exposing your dog to other dogs in a controlled way, far enough away for your dog to stay calm, give you focus, take treats, obey commands.
2. Counter-Conditioning. Exposing your dog to other dogs and having *good* things happen to your dog so he associates other dogs with good things happening.

I hear a lot of people who have used the 'game' "Look at That" (LAT) where you train your dog to look at other dogs (or people or anything) quickly and then to look back to you and get rewarded. I believe this comes from the book "Control Unleashed" which is a great book *all* about training for dog reactive dogs (it focuses on agility training, but the training 'games' can be used for anyone).
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice. Its strange, I took him to a puppy training class and while he was there all he wanted to do was play with another gsd.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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German Shepherds are a really sensitive, intelligent breed. He understands that his sibling is different from the GSD in puppy class who is different from a "stranger" dog at the park. Unless he had exposure to dozens and dozens of different dogs before he hit 12 weeks (puppies, adults, seniors, large, small, hairy, not hairy, vocal, assertive, submissive, etc.), chances are his fear response is due to a lack of socialization and/or genetics. All that is left to do at this point is to desensitize through careful exposure to other dogs with LOTS of food, which will help to create a positive association for him. The process is sometimes slow, but it can be done, especially if you start now while he is still young.

I would get him out at least 2x per week for some sort of dog desensitization - group training class, working on your own at a distance from other dogs, or one-on-one play dates with other well socialized dogs. I would also leave your other dog at home for this training; otherwise, you scared dog will just rely on him for confidence and avoid the other dogs. It's also probably not a bad idea to hire a trainer with a lot of experience building confidence in dogs. And, I agree with spidermilk, no more dog park!
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt0300 View Post
Thanks for the advice. Its strange, I took him to a puppy training class and while he was there all he wanted to do was play with another gsd.
Mine loves other fun loving dogs, but throw in a very serious Border Collie or a dog who is fearful of him and he will give them the death stare.

Dog classes worked wonders for us, although the socialization is nice, above all I worked on encouraging Dax to focus on *me* and having fun with *me* and ignore other dogs [which is hard when they really really want to play with them].
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spidermilk View Post
Mine loves other fun loving dogs, but throw in a very serious Border Collie or a dog who is fearful of him and he will give them the death stare.

Dog classes worked wonders for us, although the socialization is nice, above all I worked on encouraging Dax to focus on *me* and having fun with *me* and ignore other dogs [which is hard when they really really want to play with them].
Hes great at focusing on me. He always looks back when walking(off the lead) to see what I want him to do and never goes more than 15 ft ahead. Hes a great dog, really easy to train. I just want him to be able to go to the dog park so he can run and get exercise. I take him on hikes frequently but some days im just too worn out for that. Im talking with a trainer I know and she said im free to bring him to as many of her training classes at no cost so he can be be introduced to different dogs every time.
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