Willow at the check station - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Willow at the check station

I have been posting a lot on here lately because my adopted 3-year-old GSD Willow, whom I've had for about 10 weeks now, was showing some fear aggression and then came down with a bad case of diarrhea....between that, her going into heat 4 days after I got her, and then me having to spay her, we've kinda been through the ringer in a short time.

Anyway I was REALLY nervous about what I was gonna do with her this weekend, which is the first of 6 weekends I have to spend operating a busy big game check station as part of my job (10-12 hour days). Given that she barks aggressively, is scared of everyone, and kinda nervous/anxious in general, I just had no idea what she was gonna do...

She did AWESOME!!!

The first day was really cold and snowy so after introducing her to all my volunteers (university and high school students who get credit for helping), during which she did bark at some of them at first but chilled out pretty quickly, I ended up keeping her in her crate in the truck for most of the day. I let her out periodically to run around in the big field behind the trailer and chase sticks and toys and kinda wander around. I had a long line tied to a telephone pole but since the weather was so nasty I didn't want her to get soaking wet.

The second day was cold but sunny and beautiful, so she hung out on her long line most of the day, though I sometimes put her in the front seat of the truck so she could watch the goings on. A few times she got really nervous with everybody milling around, especially if I was out of her sight, but she had plenty of room to back off and hide if she wanted to and that seemed to be her go-to strategy when she was overwhelmed. I think a few times she was probably just tired so I put her back in the crate for a nap, and she'd be better when she came back out.

She seemed to do really well in her crate. She was exhausted yesterday since she didn't sleep much, but both nights when I brought her home she got the full-on zoomies in the backyard. I guess she does it for stress release. Can't blame her. :-)

But yeah, nobody got bit, she barked at only a few people. Just so you know, I was SUPER watchful when she was first meeting people, ready to pull her away/put her in the truck if she was showing any signs that she might bite. Nothing. She did do the snap-at-your-backside to one girl one time, but then, she does that to me too when she's excited....and she was on the leash at the time.

Also, her diarrhea is gone...vet gave us metronidazole on Thursday evening and I never saw diarrhea again. My best guess is she had a giardia infection. She's still on the metro, so hopefully the diarrhea doesn't come back as soon as she goes off the meds. The vet also gave us Drontal as a just-in-case dewormer, and Fortiflora probiotics that I plan on feeding her for a while even after she goes off the meds.

Oh and yeah, totally in the market for a new vet now. Several people thought it was odd that they gave me meds sight unseen without even doing a fecal test. Hopefully the good vet in town will start taking new patients soonish...

Anyway, I'm just really happy it worked out how it did. Also we did start training on Friday, doing basic things like learning markers and "yes" vs. "good". She's doing awesome. I really think the problem was me....I thought she was worse than she was, and had all these expectations based on my friends' dogs (who all happen to be like UBER-social and friendly), but ya know, as long as she doesn't bite anyone, she doesn't have to love everyone.

We still have a long way to go but I'm feeling really optimistic today.

FYI: Willow got to smell 73 elk, 5 white-tailed deer, 2 mule deer, and 1 black bear. :-)
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Last edited by banzai555; 10-28-2019 at 05:13 PM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 05:25 PM
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Way to go Willow!

I KNEW you could do this. And you did a great job as well.
When my current dog was younger I discovered quite by accident that she responded to my stress. It all involved running out of coffee and a half asleep walk to the local coffee shop early one morning. Lol.
I kept her muzzled on walks for a while and it made a huge difference when I was secure in the fact that she could not get into trouble by snapping at people. I also later on introduced a prong which made me much more secure in my ability to stop her.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. Congrats on a successful weekend and please keep us posted.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 05:26 PM
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Great job, Willow!

She's beautiful, by the way.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone...yeah she's on a prong too, which has helped during walks, but I didn't have it on her this weekend....too much unsupervised time where she could get it caught on something.

A few things we need to work on: her being more comfortable when I'm not around, for starters. She'll be fine with people and let them pet her and all, and even be sweet to 'em (offering her butt to be scratched, and licking hands, and taking treats) but as soon as I'm out of sight it's like she doesn't know anyone, doesn't let anyone pet her, runs away when they approach her. I wish she were more confident around strangers (at least "good" strangers--people I trust)...hopefully something else that may come with more time/exposure/training. Or maybe that's not unusual at all and nothing to really be worried about. My plan is still to board her when I go away for long periods of time, but the trainer has also offered to take Willow to her home for me...and at least then I know she's with someone who knows what she's doing.

She also still whines in the truck. She'll sleep in that crate in the truck til kingdom come but as soon as we start moving, she whines. She's better when she's tired (e.g. last night vs Saturday night, when I didn't get to exercise her much) but MAN is it annoying....again, hoping it'll get better the more we do this.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 05:41 PM
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Wonderful update. It so nice to hear the success stories. Looks like you and Willow have good times ahead. Congratulations on all the successes big and small.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 05:52 PM
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I wouldn't expect willow to be overly friendly with strangers when you aren't around in general. It really isn't part of the breed standard. They are meant to be aloof. Granted one wouldn't want their dog to be overtly aggressive in such situations but not letting strangers to get too close when you aren't there to give her the ok doesn't seem to be out of the ordinary.
Ah the truck whining. Mine does that too. We discovered over several trips with a lot of frustration by both dog and human that my girl is bothered by the sound of my truck tires on the highway. We also discovered in the car she does wonderfully once we built a platform that covers the foot well so she can sprawl out comfortably and still have access to visit between the front seats. For some odd reason she prefers to lay with her feet to the seat back so when the foot well was open we don't think she felt safe laying down and settling. Just our experience.

Ziva 03.07.2013
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 06:00 PM
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Time and exposure works wonders! Congratulations on your first, of many, successful weekend outing!
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Springbrz View Post
I wouldn't expect willow to be overly friendly with strangers when you aren't around in general. It really isn't part of the breed standard. They are meant to be aloof. Granted one wouldn't want their dog to be overtly aggressive in such situations but not letting strangers to get too close when you aren't there to give her the ok doesn't seem to be out of the ordinary.
Ah the truck whining. Mine does that too. We discovered over several trips with a lot of frustration by both dog and human that my girl is bothered by the sound of my truck tires on the highway. We also discovered in the car she does wonderfully once we built a platform that covers the foot well so she can sprawl out comfortably and still have access to visit between the front seats. For some odd reason she prefers to lay with her feet to the seat back so when the foot well was open we don't think she felt safe laying down and settling. Just our experience.
Interesting, I didn't think about that...I wondered if maybe it was the crate rattling that bothered her, since it's an old crate (well....technically a FREE crate that was on somebody's curb that I cleaned out real good and put in the truck). But she whines even before we start moving. I figured it was just excitement but...I'll keep trying things.

Technically we're not supposed to have dogs inside our work rigs at all. They're supposed to be in a crate in the BED of the trucks. One of my game wardens built a really sturdy crate out of wood for his golden retriever, that was permanently affixed in the truck bed. I may ask him to help me build something similar. At least then I can't hear her whine....
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 07:25 PM
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Nice job! Good for you and Willow! Remember, only you truly know your dog. You will be fine, keep at it.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Unread 10-28-2019, 08:51 PM
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So happy to hear this! I think that getting to be with you all day, out and about, with people nearby but not "petting" and "touching" and "invading her space', will make her a calm and confident dog! Great that you are beginning obedience training, too.

( I had the same issue at first. My friend's dogs all love humans...will come up to you asking for a pet, will lick your hand or arm. Rumo is much more aloof - but once I mentally accepted that "good" for my dog was calmly ignoring people he doesn't know - well, my dog is "good" pretty much all the time! )

Good that diarrhea is gone, too.

That is an impressive amount of animals to sniff...
I didn't even know people hunted black bears!
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Rumo ~ rescue shepherd/husky mix
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