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Old 11-27-2013, 12:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Scared Puppy

My german shepherd is almost 6 months old and we have been taking her to puppy class for about 6 weeks or so. Lately at puppy class, they've been having us do new activities with our dogs, such as weaving through the poles on a lead, walking across a little platform (a skinny rectangle about a 1/4 of a foot off the ground) on a lead, and sitting on a little taller platform (a square about 1/2 a foot off the ground). My puppy absolutely refuses to do any of these things. She shakes and whines and refuses to move if we get close to any of things things. She's the only puppy in class that won't do them and it's been a couple weeks and the instructor just says to give her time, and she'll get used to them. But she isn't showing any progress. What should I do? She does great with the other training and commands, but as soon as we start the other activities, she's terrified. And she never acts like this at home, she's usually only scared when we go to the vet because she isn't used to the vet yet.

Last edited by matilda62301; 11-27-2013 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Step 1. Get puppy hungry

Step 2. Lure puppy with food

Step 3. ?????

Step 4. Profit!
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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We put treats down on the platforms and she refuses to eat them. And we know she's hungry because she doesn't usually eat her second meal until after puppy class because there's no time. I even tried to put one of the treats up to her nose and she didn't want it. But she eats the treats when we do the other activities so I know she likes them.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You've got homework to do then. Think more a long the lines of don't feed the puppy for a day or two. If it's a healthy weight it can take it. Most people I know feed their dogs too much anyway. That will up the drive for the food.

If shes scared she won't want to eat, if shes nervous her food drive will drop significantly, but if you start with really high food drive (a hungry dog) you have a little more wiggle room to move things a long fairly quickly. You don't have to go this route you can always just move things a long more slowly with the dog and from the sound of things are going to need to take a step back anyway. It is easier to get a really young puppy to adapt to obstacles and gain confidence with them than to wait as long as you did, but she is still young and she can still be taught she can do it.

When you are with her alone encourage her either through food or prey drive to navigate obstacles, unsure footing, that kind of thing. Start SMALL then work your way up to the bigger stuff. Make sure you feed early and often as she accomplishes those baby steps too. High rate of reinforcement. Make it exciting (not too exciting) and keep it fun.

Also maybe consider finding a better trainer.

Last edited by Baillif; 11-27-2013 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 11-27-2013, 03:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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All of what Baillif said.

Plus, she might feel safe enough in familiar surroundings to check out the unfamiliar surfaces. would she do these things at home? Perhaps you can get her up on a platform at home or on a bench. Put a plank flat on the ground and have her walk across. Once she is comfortable you would make them a little wobbly.
I did this with some material I found in the garage.

Also, I would like to suggest clicker training. I found it very effective for cases like this. We got ours to walk on a treadmill using clicker training.

You would start very slow, just click and treat for looking. then click, treat for just one paw on, etc. A couple of minutes at a time and several sessions.

Last edited by Sri; 11-27-2013 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 11-27-2013, 04:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry to say this, but this is not a good trait in a GSD. I agree with what everyone is advising - reward training. By using a really yummy treat, lure her to the first pole (start with weaving poles) and just keep luring her until she has gone around one, then really praise her and just keep persevering.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you. I will try this. She actually did one of the obstacles tonight after I kept pushing her to get her to do it, and persuading her with treats. She got lots of praise and attention after that. By the end of class, she was doing that obstacle with no fear at all. Hopefully not feeding her will help. I was just afraid if I was pushing her too much that she would be more frightened than if she just did it by herself after a while. Do you think this would happen? Also, do you think I should have her do one obstacle she is afraid of and let her conquer that fear before trying another?
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Depends on what you mean by pushing the dog. If your dog is deadly fearful of slides pushing him down one is probably not a good idea (read definitely not a good idea). If you are trying to lure and the pup just isn't going for the food because of the obstacle but you try to lure over and over but aren't physically forcing the pup onto the obstacle you're probably ok.

Sri really brings up a good point though. Is your pup afraid to jump onto the bed or the couch? I'm wondering if something else is going on. You might consider using a video cam of some sort to record the session. It would be interesting and informative to watch.

A platform as short as what you described is pretty much just a step for a gsd that age. She might feel exposed or is shutting down due to some sort of pressure, as she sounds like a really sensitive pup.

Last edited by Baillif; 11-27-2013 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baillif View Post
Depends on what you mean by pushing the dog. If your dog is deadly fearful of slides pushing him down one is probably not a good idea (read definitely not a good idea). If you are trying to lure and the pup just isn't going for the food because of the obstacle but you try to lure over and over but aren't physically forcing the pup onto the obstacle you're probably ok.

Sri really brings up a good point though. Is your pup afraid to jump onto the bed or the couch? I'm wondering if something else is going on. You might consider using a video cam of some sort to record the session. It would be interesting and informative to watch.

A platform as short as what you described is pretty much just a step for a gsd that age. She might feel exposed or is shutting down due to some sort of pressure, as she sounds like a really sensitive pup.
I would bet the pup is more fearful/scared than anything. There's a reason that one of the ways the can really see the nerve in a dog is putting them on a table. It's un-nerving.

OP, I would keep doing what you're doing. Take it one step at a time, and def don't push her too much. I would do one obstacle at a time. Your pup does sound a little on the sensitive side. My old dog was like this, we focused on stellar obedience and giving him a "safe" place...which was down. He learned that nothing could happen to him and he was safe as long as he stayed in a "down" when told. Dog's like this need to be feel safe, and obedience can be a great way to give them that safety. Good luck :-)

Edit: Forgot to add, if you for any reason think the dog may be injured and that's why this is happening, def get to a vet.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baillif View Post
Depends on what you mean by pushing the dog. If your dog is deadly fearful of slides pushing him down one is probably not a good idea (read definitely not a good idea). If you are trying to lure and the pup just isn't going for the food because of the obstacle but you try to lure over and over but aren't physically forcing the pup onto the obstacle you're probably ok.

Sri really brings up a good point though. Is your pup afraid to jump onto the bed or the couch? I'm wondering if something else is going on. You might consider using a video cam of some sort to record the session. It would be interesting and informative to watch.

A platform as short as what you described is pretty much just a step for a gsd that age. She might feel exposed or is shutting down due to some sort of pressure, as she sounds like a really sensitive pup.
She never acts like this at home. She isn't scared of jumping on the bed, going up or down the stairs (which are taller than the platform at class), and sometimes she even jumps the baby gate we put up to keep her out of the kitchen. So she's not injured, she only acts this way when we do the obstacles at class. Maybe it's just because she's unfamiliar with them? We only started the obstacles two weeks ago. Could that cause the fearfulness she is displaying? And by pushing her I mean persuading her with treats and keep trying to get her to do the obstacle, not physically pushing her.
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