Big dog with big fears - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2011, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Big dog with big fears

Hello, glad to have my first post....

I have been raised with GSD and now that I have a family of my own I have a great 4yr old beautiful GSD from Covy Tucker Hill. He came into our family when he was 14 weeks old. We had our pick from several GSD of the same litter and we decided on this one due to him being a bit more timid as our daughter was very young at the time and my wife doesn't have a great history with large dogs so she was nervous.

He has been raised very social always being very curious to meet other dogs wanting to greet each other. He is very "verbally aggressive" towards people knocking at the door, and is attentive of where his family "pack" is. I love this in him, however...

There has been several occasions where I want him to STAND HIS GROUND! Today was the icing on the cake. There has been more than a several times where small, uncontrolled/off leash, annoying dogs (even Chihuahuas) have rushed him on the trails and our GS has literally tucked his tail, dropped his rear end and tried to bolt only to be stopped by the leash. His eyes have utter fear in them. He is so well verbally controlled by commands that would completely go out the window if I had him off the leash. He has not been fixed and pee's on everything like he owns the world and is a very impressive looking dog.

My goal is to help him to have SOME confidence and stand up for himself . Its very embarrassing when he shows to be curious in meeting other dogs, is not scared when typically "greeting and socializing" occurs but retreats like sissy when ANY other dog or oversized rat shows any aggressiveness.

Anyone have any tips?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2011, 11:52 PM
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At least he's not reactive and trying to kill every dog that gets near him which would be much worse. That's at least a positive.

Has he always been this way or is this something new? Does he have any dog friends or is he like this with all dogs? Is it dogs of all sizes or just small ones that do this?

I say try to get him in a class with a good trainer with other dogs. Tell the trainer your situation and see if they have anything available to help build confidence
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2011, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, he has some freinds, however none of them have ever shown aggression. One thing I failed to mention is we rescued a small Doxie-Pin a year ago and they have a great realtionship. The Doxie-Pin is a bit more agressive but knows when the GS has had enough "pestering". The GS never runs from him though but is very tollerant, sometimes too tollerant.

It is the oddest behavior on the trails but like I said, is very annoying. Its almost a fear of the unknown dog.

I know its a positive to not have one that reacts agressively to all other dogs, as we have had one like that and it took stern commands to keep him at bay. I just wish our current GS would not run in fear.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2011, 12:28 AM
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Like I said... get the dog in class with a good trainer. You want a controlled situation with stable dogs. Build the confidence that your dog is lacking.

Do you have any good training facilities in your area?
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2011, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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I will look into trainers. I was more curious if anyone else has had this issue and has had success. I hate to invest in a trainer since there is nothing really "bad" about our GS. I would just like to find ways to build his confidence.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2011, 01:49 AM
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You might also look for a behaviorist not just a trainer if you can find a good one with experience with GSD's or at least similar dogs.

Might be more useful than just a trainer maybe. Where are you located - maybe someone on the forum will have experience with some behaviorists if you mention the general area/city?
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2011, 08:15 AM
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Your dog is who he is and a trainer won't help. If he is still like that at 4 then a behaviorist 'might' help but I doubt it. He is weak-nerved and you have to accept that about him and love him as he is. As stated above, it's good that he isn't shy aggressive. Your dog just doesn't have a mean bone in his body and you can love him for that. Be happy that you don't have to deal with an aggressive dog that could cause a lot of problems and expense. The term 'weak-nerved' covers a lot of territory and doesn't have to be considered 'bad'. Some dogs, like some people, just don't like being attacked ... go figure. You have a nice dog and he probably wonders why in he11 other dogs want to attack him. Remember that little dogs have teeth too. All you can do is give him as many socialization and dog interaction experiences as possible to build his confidence and help him realize that all dogs aren't out to get him.

Last edited by PaddyD; 11-26-2011 at 08:17 AM.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2011, 08:24 AM
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Do you have training classes in your area? You might consider some basic or introductory agility or rally obedience classes if they are available in your area. Controlled introductions and a "fun" activity such as agility or rally obedience might help your dog develop his confidence amongst other unknown dogs.

Shannon

Sabra - female GSD - born April 30, 2012
Sargeant - rescued senior GSD male/foster failure - approximately ten years old (August 2013)
Max - rescued GSD - Dec 22, 2010 to March 7, 2012 - at the bridge
Sable - rescued GSD - at the bridge
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-27-2011, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Paddy,
As I stated before, he is, and always will be well loved and I do accept him for that. He is a great family dog and it is great that we never have to worry about him around other dogs, or kids that may poke or prod him while in public. He is very well behaved and follows commands great. That is unless another dog shows dominance or pesters him.

Again, the fear and "flee" need by him is what hurts me. I just wish I knew where it came from and how to help with it.

I live in Sonoma County, CA.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-27-2011, 07:00 AM
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it is what it is..........some dogs are just genetically weak nerved........you didn't do anything to cause it, its just his makeup..........

you can help some with conditioning training, obedience, and a good trainer/behaviorist............a dog like this needs you to control his encounters, show that you will protect him and try to gain his trust........a dog like this is not what we seek out in this breed, but it happens. except him for who he is and don't expect he will completely change............positive conditioning and slow exposure short of the fear reaction will help. alot of work and patience, but possible to progress to a point........

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