And so can bad advice from well meaning people on the internet.
I know you've dealt with a GSD with people issues Chip... But have you dealt with legit fear aggression?
Fear aggression is a whole 'nother ball game. I would take a dominant aggressive dog over a fear aggressive dog any day of the week.
Sorry about "Place" and "Treat training"... I found the dreaded "treat training" to be VERY helpful in the desensitizing process with my fearful dog. Less for the training aspect and more for gauging how the dog was handling the situation. He wasn't going to eat a treat when he was fearful or anxious. Using physical correction for him were often a no-go. As for place... Yeah, putting my fearful dog into a long down stay would have been a sure fire way for his anxiety to build. He did MUCH better when given the freedom to extract himself from an uncomfortable situation. No need to train place, just put the dog up in their nice, quiet, secure, crate in a unused part of the house while guests are over...
There is no "cure" for fear aggression. You'll never be able to fully trust a fear aggressive dog. They need a great deal of LIFE STYLE MANAGEMENT and acceptance of their quirks to succeed.
It doesn't sound like the OP has the type of lifestyle that would suit a fearful dog. I agree with the suggestions of others to return the dog to the rescue so they can place it with a more suitable family. Lots of quiet child free homes out there capable of managing a dog like this.
OP - if you are still on the fence about what to do, there are two books I found very helpful "Help for your shy dog" by Deborah Wood and "The Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell PhD. The first is inspirational the second more how-to.
Oh well, feel free to "assume" away.
Training "Place" is part of a "Process" no one said one starts there??? And you say LIFE STYLE MANAGEMENT and I say MAKE GOOD CHOICES FOR YOUR DOG, potato-potato??
If people chose to use "Treats" with dogs with people issues?? They are free to do so. Use of treats is not a part of my "Zero Bite Policy." No less than Micheal Ellis ... pointed out to me something I already knew ... instinctively.
And yes "Rocky " was my test bed for my "Zero Bite Policy" but he was not my "Proof of Concept" that would be Tic Tac Toe, a fear of people Boxer. And I worked with him in absolutely the worst environment possible! Rescue day event lots of dogs lots of people and he did great! So well in fact that save for one incident when someone "broke my 5 foot bubble" to pet him by stepping in while I was pondering, "My I Pet???" I would have sworn ... this dog has no people issues?? And I'd have been wrong!
As soon as JQP broke my "Bubble" TTT pressed against me and I looked down and his eyes were big as saucers! That was it my hand went out stop "we are in training" and we were outta there! He showed me how he felt at being approached by a stranger and I took him at his word. I was not willing to use "treats" to convince him, he was wrong??? Others are of course free to do as they see fit. And if I'd have had him longer ... then he would have been trained in "Place" in order to help him cope with doing "Nothing." But no one said training "Place" is where one "Starts???"
And I'll match Patricia McConnell PhD, with "Nicole Wilde" pretty much the same advise as in Leerburghs "Who Pets my Puppy or Dog" note the lack of treats, in either approach, link number three.
Every trainer I link to, also deals with dogs with serious issues ... trains "Place!" Good enough for me, if others feel they don't need to train "Place" also?? Good enough ... they aren't "That Guy or Girl" as I am want to say. Those that are my audience get me, and those that aren't ,can "Find a Trainer."
And for the record ... I've never said anything about "cured??" But with "Good Choices" by an owner with a dog with issues, the level of "stress" for the dog and owner will go down, if an owner "Shows The Dog What They Want" and how they expect them to behave. Which for me is "Do nothing dog" when faced with stress, but that has to be taught first, nuff said.