Encouraging the timid puppy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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Encouraging the timid puppy

My pup is between 8-9 weeks old and on the timid side. He's very comfortable with my family, but will run from strangers in the house. It takes him several hours to get comfortable enough to cautiously come up to them, and then if there are sudden movements he will take off again. He's not what I would consider fearful though; once he goes up to them, they can pick him up and pet him and hold him and he is okay with it, just clearly prefers to sit on a family member's lap.

Outside, if he's startled by sudden noises or unexpected movement, he will shoot to the end of the leash and then do that fish-at-the-end-of-the-line dance to get away. I usually respond by crouching down and giving him encouraging words, and petting him when he comes to me.

I don't think he got exposure to many different things before coming home, and he was the more timid of his littermates, so I think it's a matter of simply being nervous about anything new.

How can I build up his confidence? We're doing clicker training and he's great with it, and I have been taking him for short forays around the block with lots of encouragement (on walks he trails along behind me and stops here and there to investigate things). When guests come over, I keep it very low key and tell them to just sit on the floor and talk nicely until he comes over. What else can I do?
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 09:33 AM
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It is his nerves and yes, he is doing this out of fear. How is his food drive? If he has good food drive I would use this to my advantange and give every visiter handfulls of treats to give to the puppy while they are visiting. He will start associating people with good/positive things (treat/food!!).

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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 09:37 AM
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how long have you had him?

only 8 - 9 weeks of age . slow down . take the tension away . getting a crash course on being brave and social will not do anything , except maybe underline the unpleasant experience. don't have your friends pick the dog up . have them go down to the dogs level .

from your description he may just be a nervous dog and this is something that you will have to deal with his entire life.

it can be done . expectations have to be realistic.

Carmen
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 09:38 AM Thread Starter
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It is his nerves and yes, he is doing this out of fear. How is his food drive? If he has good food drive I would use this to my advantange and give every visiter handfulls of treats to give to the puppy while they are visiting. He will start associating people with good/positive things (treat/food!!).
Good idea. He's not super into food, but it motivates him in training sessions, so it's worth a shot.

Do you think 'bad nerves' are made, and not born? I'm inclined to think he's not a naturally fearful dog, just one that didn't get much in the way of socialization, and that in a few months he will normalize into a solid, if soft, dog.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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how long have you had him?

only 8 - 9 weeks of age . slow down . take the tension away . getting a crash course on being brave and social will not do anything , except maybe underline the unpleasant experience. don't have your friends pick the dog up . have them go down to the dogs level .

from your description he may just be a nervous dog and this is something that you will have to deal with his entire life.

it can be done . expectations have to be realistic.

Carmen
I've had him about a week. I didn't mean to imply he's bombarded. He's not. The majority of the time it's us at home, and he goes out for regular potty walks and back in. I take him in the car with me to run errands, but he doesn't get out most of the time and the only people he has met have been family, in our home. They don't 'pick him up', they sit on the floor and encourage him to come over, pet him and praise him, then will set him on their laps or encourage him to lie next to them.

I'm kind of surprised that people think that shyness in a 9 week old puppy implies poor nerves as an adult.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 10:13 AM
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My first GSD was from a BYB, she was scared, or I should say terrified, of even her breeder. I know, I was stupid to walk out of this guy's house with her seeing that she would coward even when he tried to pick her up, but I fell in love and wanted to rescue her from that horrible place.

Anyhow, for 2 weeks she hid under my kitchen table and would not come out, she was terrified of people. I started taking her everywhere with me, let her have positive experiences with people and I'm happy to say it worked. She started liking people and even though she was scared/terrified of other things like loud noises and such, she always loved people.

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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 10:22 AM
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Just my opinion from observation and experience.
A shy/timid pup can respond to socialization and exposure to a broad spectrum of positive experiences. However, shyness will always be his/her basic nature. As stated above, all you can do is take it slow, don't push the pup but give him as many opportunities for positive experiences as you can. Go at the pup's pace and don't expect a fast growth in confidence.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GSDBESTK9 View Post
My first GSD was from a BYB, she was scared, or I should say terrified, of even her breeder.
This is definitely not my pup. I don't think he's fearful by nature, I just think he hasn't been exposed to much and so lacks confidence in new situations. Example: I just took him out for a potty walk and to check the mail. As we got down the outdoor stairs, the rain gutter was making an awful racket. He jumped backwards and shied away, then continued walking. On the way back, we stopped by the gutter and I let him investigate the sound, which he did with caution and then curiosity. My question is more about confidence-building than trying to work with a nervy dog.

That said, would tug games help to build confidence?
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 01:41 PM
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I'm kind of surprised that people think that shyness in a 9 week old puppy implies poor nerves as an adult.
Kaos came to me at exactly 9 weeks old from PA.

When she came out of the crate at the airport she almost flew into my arms, tail wagging a million miles an hour and she promptly gave my face a thorough washing. I had never met this pup before, obviously, since I'm in Oregon.

Since she's been here we've been out and about (to puppy without all vaccines safe places) and without exception when she sees people her tail starts to wag and she almost seems put out when someone doesn't want to say hello.

3 days a week she goes to the office with me, she can't go in but is crated in my Explorer) and when I go out for her potty breaks and there are other people around she always wants to meet them, there is no shyness here what so ever!!

I don't have any words of wisdom for you, there are many people here that have worked with more puppies than I have - but this might give you some insight into some of what you are hearing about a shy puppy, Kaos it seems is very different than your pup.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Kaos came to me at exactly 9 weeks old from PA.

When she came out of the crate at the airport she almost flew into my arms, tail wagging a million miles an hour and she promptly gave my face a thorough washing. I had never met this pup before, obviously, since I'm in Oregon.

Since she's been here we've been out and about (to puppy without all vaccines safe places) and without exception when she sees people her tail starts to wag and she almost seems put out when someone doesn't want to say hello.

3 days a week she goes to the office with me, she can't go in but is crated in my Explorer) and when I go out for her potty breaks and there are other people around she always wants to meet them, there is no shyness here what so ever!!

I don't have any words of wisdom for you, there are many people here that have worked with more puppies than I have - but this might give you some insight into some of what you are hearing about a shy puppy, Kaos it seems is very different than your pup.
Of course. But I'm sure your breeder spent a lot of time with the litter and made efforts to socialize them. I'm very happy with my pup, but he was a farm puppy born to farm dogs, and the pups didn't have any effort put into them and they certainly weren't exposed to other people or have constant attention/handling. That's why I'm inclined to consider it a socialization issue (though of course I could be off-base here). If my pup had come from your litter, I also would think there was something seriously wrong there.
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