Anxiety over Socialization - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2016, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Anxiety over Socialization

My pup has gone above and beyond my expectations in terms of socializing with new people and dogs (on leash). However before every interaction I have a moment of sheer panic and anxiety. I do have a tendency to be high strung and have severe anxiety about EVERY new situation in my life, and I worry especially when Oaks meets a young child or a dog because I feel like I cannot control the situation beyond my own dog.

He seems to be really receptive of this, and at home when I'm having panic attacks he will sit or lay on my feet. I just don't know how to calm that little voice down in my head so it doesn't effect him when he's meeting new people or in a new situation (you should have seen me try to cross the street with him and my 5 year old in tow, I thought I was going to have a coronary). Anyone else deal with anxiety like this? What can I do to make things go smoother for everyone? I know it's all in my head unfortunately.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2016, 09:31 PM
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Have you read this article by Ed Frawley....

Leerburg | Socializing Puppies a Pushy Puppy
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2016, 11:11 PM
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Hmm, I have not seen "that" Leerburg article?? I'm much more familiar with this one and it's pretty much "Treat Free." Interesting change in approach ... but whatever.

But it sounds to "me" like the OP does not have a "Dog" problem she has a "her" problem. I can relate my tales of "Rocky" and his "former" "People Issues" are well know here. And these days he is mostly "off leash" and in the rare instances when I get "trapped" by people asking questions about him "Wobble" dog ... he is still "off leash" and is free to intermingle or not as he sees fit.

Never had a single issue and he has meet tons of strangers ... not my plan but crap happens. My point is ... I can relate to the "OP's" concerns, because of "my" history with "Rocky" (I did the hard work) I will "never" be as "relaxed" with him as was around people with my "Boxer and American Band Dawg" they rolled out the box loving people.

But it sounds like you have done your part well and you have shown your dog, how you "expect him to behave around people." That is what you do ... and it sounds like he gets that?? As long as your not "choking up on the leash" and have the "expectation" that your dog "understands how to behave" you'll be fine.

I usually recommend "The Place Command" and "Sit on the Dog" for "Dogs" but "Sit on the Dog" can work for you also details for those can be found here:

Fearful, Anxious or Flat Crazy "The Place CommanD - Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums

With "Sit on the Dog" you just find an out of the way spot and "Sit" and people watch no interaction required, works for dogs and there owners also.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2016, 11:37 PM
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For you... cognitive behavioral therapy... can also check out this book... When Panic Attacks by David Burns MD. Good luck.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 02:47 AM
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Sounds like you have an awesome dog.

"I feel like I cannot control the situation beyond my own dog." This is true for everyone, but we can control our reaction to the situation.

I used to have panic attacks where I couldn't breathe. I suggest you develop strategies. Have you tried distracting yourself by reciting memorized poetry, multiplication tables or math formulas, favourite recipes or songs, talking to your 5 year old? Jaw relaxation exercises may help towards preventing you tensing up. Develop an attitude of I choose to be in control and I'm improving with my coping skills, rather than letting anxiety overwhelm and define who you are. See anxiety as something you are gaining control over, not anxiety controlling you. Discipline yourself to smile, smiling is your face telling your brain you are happy. Discipline and train yourself, it takes time but you will see progress.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 07:03 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Chip18 View Post
But it sounds to "me" like the OP does not have a "Dog" problem she has a "her" problem. I can relate my tales of "Rocky" and his "former" "People Issues" are well know here. And these days he is mostly "off leash" and in the rare instances when I get "trapped" by people asking questions about him "Wobble" dog ... he is still "off leash" and is free to intermingle or not as he sees fit.

Never had a single issue and he has meet tons of strangers ... not my plan but crap happens. My point is ... I can relate to the "OP's" concerns, because of "my" history with "Rocky" (I did the hard work) I will "never" be as "relaxed" with him as was around people with my "Boxer and American Band Dawg" they rolled out the box loving people.

But it sounds like you have done your part well and you have shown your dog, how you "expect him to behave around people." That is what you do ... and it sounds like he gets that?? As long as your not "choking up on the leash" and have the "expectation" that your dog "understands how to behave" you'll be fine.

I usually recommend "The Place Command" and "Sit on the Dog" for "Dogs" but "Sit on the Dog" can work for you also details for those can be found here:
Yes he is a good boy when he meets people. I correct him in the rare case he goes paws up on someone and usually he just rolls over for a belly rub.

I think this anxiety comes from past experience with (poorly socialized) GSDs I had when I was a kid, both dogs were involved in bite incidents with children in my own yard (both children were bit on the face). There was also an incident with a neighbor's GSD that got out and attacked my dog and I while I was out walking alone. It was very traumatizing because I was stuck on my dogs leash and was dragged along in their fight and I can still recall how there was blood everywhere. It's hard not to choke a bit in these new situations when kids run up to us or an unfamiliar dog walks by.

I've been working on my anxiety for the past few years, I'm on an as needed regimen for meds and do my breathing exercises. It rarely debilitates me now but it still makes things difficult.

Thank you for the info on the sit on the dog, we are going to try that on our next walk to the park.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 07:47 PM
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Hmm, I have not seen "that" Leerburg article?? I'm much more familiar with this one and it's pretty much "Treat Free." Interesting change in approach ... but whatever.

But it sounds to "me" like the OP does not have a "Dog" problem she has a "her" problem.
Yes, I read her post. I thought the Frawley article might help Tia to distinguish between legitimate concerns and those that might be more anxiety based. There's no need to push the dog or herself beyond their comfort zones. Good luck Tia.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 10:12 PM
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Try to think about what went positive with the interactions afterwards. Sounds like your dog is great, so even if you feel like you failed the interaction by being anxious if your dog did well think about that, it might help build confidence over time. If you try to start focusing more on what your dog is doing it might take your mind off how you are feeling or over thinking the situation. Hope this helps!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by LaurelCreek View Post
Yes, I read her post. I thought the Frawley article might help Tia to distinguish between legitimate concerns and those that might be more anxiety based. There's no need to push the dog or herself beyond their comfort zones. Good luck Tia.
Oh I follow your explanation ... it's just not very "often" I see information coming from the exact same source that, I often "quote" and practice that runs run "counter" to what they have advised in the past??

Just "curious" as to what "prompted" the change?? Farwley did not ask "me" to "proof" "WHo Pets My Puppy or Do" but I did and works it fined, Just curious as to why the change??
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2016, 01:08 PM
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Oh I follow your explanation ... it's just not very "often" I see information coming from the exact same source that, I often "quote" and practice that runs run "counter" to what they have advised in the past??

Just "curious" as to what "prompted" the change?? Farwley did not ask "me" to "proof" "WHo Pets My Puppy or Do" but I did and works it fined, Just curious as to why the change??
I am new to GSD's and also to Frawley/ Leerburg but I did notice his admission that he was wrong in the past about how to socialize puppies. Maybe it has something to do with the Dog Park issue...

Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea

By the way Chip, I always read your posts on dog training with great interest
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