She is terrified of other dogs!! :-( - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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She is terrified of other dogs!! :-(

Really could do with some advice.

I took Meka to her first puppy pet class, only 3 other pups there. She was terrified the whole time, hiding behind me or inbetween my legs.
I posted earlier this week that she had been barking at a big old lab she saw at the vet. Well know I can see that she is just afraid.
I have a black lab so she has been around another dog.

So today I took her to the local dog park with my lab armed with treats. I know everyone that goes there in the mornings. Nice dogs and always just a couple before people start berating me for taking a 12 week old pup to a dog park :-). I had hoped with my sweet confident lab there that Meka would come out of het shell. Nope. She's so afraid, tail between legs, hiding behind me.

What can I do here??? She has no reason to be afraid. I'm not reinforcing her by doing baby voices or petting her but I kept the dog park short and sweet but I don't want to continue to traumatize her. She's great with people, very sweet and outgoing. She's pretty confident and will go up and sniff new things with a little bark.

At the end of the day if she isn't a dogs dog I don't care but I'd like her to not be terrified of other dogs. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Louise.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 02:03 PM
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Nice dogs and always just a couple before people start berating me for taking a 12 week old pup to a dog park :-).
I'm sorry, but I agree with them. It's really not a good idea to have such a young puppy at a dog park, especially one who lacks confidence and is showing fear of other dogs, not to mention the fact that she hasn't had enough of her puppy shots to be safe in an environment where lots of strange dogs have been. Being comfortable around another dog who is a member of her pack isn't socialization with other dogs, so it doesn't surprise me that she's fine with him, but not with strange dogs.

I would continue going to puppy class, but not to the dog park, even if you know most of the other dogs and people there. At this age you want her exposure to new things to be positive and even one negative incident with another dog can set you back. Make sure that the other puppies in class don't overwhelm her (redirect them gently away from her until she feels confident enough to emerge from behind you and explore on her own). You may find that with each week she gains confident and feels more comfortable in her environment. Limit socialization with other dogs to maybe one at a time that you know is good with puppies, healthy, and current on vaccinations.

Remember that everything is new to her and she has no idea what is and is not a threat. Encourage her in a happy voice with an upbeat demeanor, but don't force her if she's hesitant. When my puppies bark at something new (Dena once backed away and barked at a fire hydrant on a walk), I act like it's the most interesting thing in the world, and do a "oh look, let's go see what that is!" jolly routine, dropping a trail of treats up to it.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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How do I get her around other dogs though if not at the dog park? My neighbor has yippy greyhounds that she wouldn't do well with at this point and the only friend I have here has a 2 year old lab that is super hyper and dominant.

The puppy class has a lab in who is very sweet, a miniature snauzzer ( I'm sure I spelt that wrong!) who is very yippy and a 4 month old husky who scared the life out of her.

I just don't want to keep leaving this until she is older, I want to address it straight away. Is that wrong? I thought the best time was until 16 weeks of age. I'll emphasis again that she hadn't had any nehative experiences with dogs, she's just afraid.
Again, she is pretty confident. When I walk get she'll bark at things she doesn't know but will always go up to it and sniff it.

Louise.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 03:10 PM
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I'll emphasis again that she hadn't had any nehative experiences with dogs, she's just afraid.
I'm not saying that she has, I'm saying that if she DOES, it will only increase her fear. Having positive experiences should help to decrease her fear. Being "around" other dogs does not require that she has to actually interact with them. I take my dogs to off leash parks and have for over 10 years. But many "dog parks" are not as great as the ones near me, and people are always starting threads about some disaster or other at their local park, where they either witnessed a fight or some dog randomly attacked theirs. Better not to risk something like that, especially with her at such a young age. Training classes will expose her to other dogs, but in a much more controlled environment, where she is less likely to have a bad experience.

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Again, she is pretty confident. When I walk get she'll bark at things she doesn't know but will always go up to it and sniff it.
If she's fearful, she's not that confident. But the fact that she will approach and sniff things that she's barked at is a very good sign.

-Debbie-
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Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 03:14 PM
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Barking at things she doesn't know is not a sign of confidence. Quiet curiosity is. Your pup is shy and could possibly remain that way. Mine is almost 3 and she is still shy in spite of daily trip to the (not a dog) park where she has exposure to many people and dogs. She is fine with people but shies away from dogs. She will eventually warm up if she sees they are non-threatening but that usually takes longer than other dog owners are willing to wait. Not saying your dog is the same but she 'sounds like' she is starting out that way.
Some of us are not lucky enough to get every desirable temperament trait we hoped for from our GSDs.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks...you are right, I would hate for something negative to happen at the dog park and reinforce this fear. I will keep her in the puppy class, in the mean time do you suggest that I just walk her around other dogs but not let her go near them? When she sees other dogs she tends to bark (she's a super vocal dog) so I've been making her sit and focus on me which has been going well.

Louise
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 03:11 AM
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Thanks...you are right, I would hate for something negative to happen at the dog park and reinforce this fear. I will keep her in the puppy class, in the mean time do you suggest that I just walk her around other dogs but not let her go near them? When she sees other dogs she tends to bark (she's a super vocal dog) so I've been making her sit and focus on me which has been going well.

Louise
Yes Louise - just keep your distance from other dogs and give Meka a treat everytime you see another dog. Keep her leash loose and allow her to get closer in her own time. You can also play with her favourite toy or play tug with her, when other dogs are at a safe distance - so that Meka starts to associate other dogs with good things.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Sue. If she barks at the other dogs she sees am I right by calling her name and treating her when she looks at me quietly, or having her sit and again treating her when she ignores the other dog?

Louise.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 06:13 PM
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Yes, that's fine Louise - if she barks at them, just divert her attention to you.

But I'd start off so far away from other dogs that she doesn't bark at them - if she's far enough away, she'll have no reason to be afraid - just curious.

Just let her get used to seeing dogs and give her a treat, while saying in a happy voice ' look - a dog' - and hopefully she'll get more confident and want to get closer - little by little at her own pace. She's only a baby - hopefully she'll get there

Is there a park nearby where you could go and just sit on a bench and watch other dogs at a distance for 5/10 minutes. Take a toy and treats along to keep her occupied and to give her a good association with dogs.

Try that for a week and see if there is any improvement at all at her next puppy class.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-06-2012, 09:08 PM
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I would like to offer my experience with what you describe.

I would suggest that you search ALL my prior threads, and look at some of the issues I had with a timid puppy around other dogs. I received some sound advice, and learned quite a bit.

However, I will say that you should 100% AVOID the dog park with your dog. The other dogs WILL get a read on your dogs fear, and could possibly attract unwanted negative attention.
Your dog needs a PUPPY of equal temperament to play with. Find someone to give you some one on one play time, and gradually build his confidence.
My dog has been a six month project for me. she was attacked by an off leash German shepherd at 3 months, and has since become very leery of larger dogs. Only in the past month, have I begun to see a dog that's come out of her shell and doesn't seems too concerned about larger dogs. But it took months of careful planning, and socializing to get her comfortable around dogs.
I know her limits, and I respect them. I keep her away from situations that could result in something negative.
Dog parks are very inviting. We all want to be part of them, because we think they're where it at, but every visit to the dog park, is like playing a game of Russian Roulette. It could explode in your face in the blink of an eye.

Last edited by Anthony8858; 05-06-2012 at 09:11 PM.
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