Teaching to Accept Strangers
I joined this forum a few weeks ago, just been reading up as much as I can. I have a question that I don't seem to find much info on. Can our GSD be "taught" to allow a stranger to pet them? This is actually one of the parts of the Canine Good Citizen test. Not that this test is my goal, but it illustrates our problem. Let me give some background....
We adopted a 9 mo old GSD from the local German Shepherd rescue. We had no recent experience with training a GSD. Recognizing our lack of experience, we solicited the help of a trainer. After a few sessions/interviews with different trainers, we settled on one who was billed as "100% positive reinforcement". We worked with her for 2 1/2 months, implementing what she called Counter Conditioning, for the reactiveness. We didn't accomplish much, after this we strongly considered sending her back to the rescue. We just didn't know what to do!
Consulting with some GSD specific trainers, we came to the conclusion that "positive only reinforcement", while it may work for some breeds, probably isn't the best approach for a GSD. We then found someone local who has a Rehabilitation program. He is a colleague of Sean O'Shea, based on the methodology in his book, The Good Dog Way.
We sent her away for 3 weeks. The difference now with her is amazing. She is a changed dog, although she isn't given 100% freedom yet. Its been 3 months since, and she is mostly forced to down/place in the house, which keeps her calm. We still have her in an E collar. She also does great with heel and recall. In most ways, she is a great pet and now a pleasure to have, except one thing.
She is still a nervous dog. She is not aggressive, in fact I would say she is overly submissive. We entertain a lot and travel in our RV. We want her to be a better "people" dog. When anyone else, even friends she knows, gets near her, she gets WAY too excited, sometimes even losing her bladder. Its like her personal space is 2 ft., as soon as someone gets closer, she just gets wound up; licking, mouthing, jumping, etc.
Our trainer (and everything I have read) says this behavior really can't be changed, unless she outgrows it. His solution is to put her in her crate or a place/down when we have visitors. We can do this, and she will be fine, BUT feel like that is doing nothing to "teach" her to be more accomodating. She is such a pretty dog, everyone wants to pet her! We're fine telling strangers no, but would like friends/family to be able to interact with her.
Since this is part of the CGC program, we thought there might be some techniques to train or overcome this?