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Old 12-02-2013, 12:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question What age do they "toughen" up?

Sorry for making a post so similar to the others already on this board, just figured it would be better than high jacking someone elses thread.

Anyway, I have a young Male Shep(just under 7 months). Hes a great dog, very friendly, strong drive, loves to play and has been very trainable. But hes a bit skittish. As a puppy he was VERY shy and it took a while for him to warm up to us and his surroundings. He does bark at sounds in the house or strange dogs passing by, ect. But at times he just seems like such a wimp! My parents cat(is a bit aggressive) who has no claws, completely beat up my male shepherd without him doing anything but run and yelp. Mind you this is a 6lb Siamese cat vs a 75lb shepherd. Don't get me wrong I DO NOT want him to attack and kill animals, but I figured at the age he would have more of a defensive response and try to protect himself. It makes me a little worried if a strange dog or person was to attack him or try and enter the home, he would do nothing but run and hide. Does this pass with time?

I'm going to assume that something like Shutzhund training is out of the question for my male? My little female, who is only 9 weeks, is the complete opposite of my male. EXTREMELY out going and brave, very strong drive, but that is expected since she came from a shutzhund bloodline. Is there anything I should be trying to do to help my Male or is it just a puppy phase that will pass? Sorry for the long post, thanks for any help guys!
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Unfortunately this is probably his core temperament. A confident adult is usually a bold and confident puppy, as you can see with your female. There is a lot of good advice her for raising a pup who is a bit skittish.
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Old 12-02-2013, 01:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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a wussy dog will always be a wuss. you can help him be more confident but he'll never be brave. he doesnt sound like a schutzhund dog but he sounds like a great pet.
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Old 12-02-2013, 01:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Could always work the dog in prey only, and then practice obedience, experiment with engagement related stuff. Wouldn't want to put the dog into competition or anything like that where he could be put into defense accidentally or otherwise, but you can still work him for his enrichment and your own practice. From a training and practice perspective these dogs are more challenging. You would potentially learn more from working with a dog like that.
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Old 12-02-2013, 01:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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This may be a good start with some good resources for you. Learning how to work with a dog with these issues will, indeed, make you a better handler all around. It will also make you much more aware of dog body language etc. A big goal is to prevent fear related aggression and it sounds like you may have made it thus far without this issue.

Shy dogs/fearful dogs links and resources
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Old 12-02-2013, 02:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies, I figured as much. Looks like my girl will be the shutzhund prospect/better guard dog around here.

jocoyn, thanks for the links and resources! Looking into that now.
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Never hurts to have a nervy one to wake up the heavy hitter when the baddies go bump in the night.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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7 months is young. train and socialize a lot. some GSD's are protective
and some aren't.
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I would also work on strengthening your bond with your skittish boy so that he trusts you implicitly and looks to you for all directions and cues for his behavior. Once an inseperable bond has formed between you and a dog they tend to do more of the things that you would consider "toughening up" Generally a meek dog remains meek for their entire life, but that is no reason that the cannot be a great pet and life long companion. My first long term foster/homing attempt is a female who is skittish and refuses to come into the house. So we give her lots of love and attention while we are outside and she is blossoming into quite the little powerhouse with great drive, loves fetch and is always seeking a good rub or some attention. This is in contrast to her sister who prefers inside and plays keep away but is a sucker for a belly rub too. So be patient while you build your relationship, show lots of love, maintain your alpha position, and above all be consistent. This experience will make you a better trainer and help you to understand the psychological as well as the physical needs of this breed of dog. Just remember....Nothing is impossible or insurmountable until you do not make the attempt.

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Old 12-03-2013, 09:28 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Yeah, definitely don't give up on the dog. Continue to socialize and work on those issues because the best progress is made at these ages while the dog is still pliable.
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