Complete lack of aggression - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-20-2018, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Complete lack of aggression

Major is 90# male about to turn one. He is full of energy and has never shown aggression toward anyone. He'll play endlessly with any person or dog he is familiar with. In short, he just acts like a very large puppy. He does bark when someone comes to the door. But, so does the chihuahua. My concern is he is quite scared of anything or anyone he isn't familiar with. Every person or animal we meet outside of the house terrifies him. He is also scared of some inanimate objects. So much so that we have to give every storm drain a wide birth on walks. Is this normal for a GSD?
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-20-2018, 03:51 PM
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If you think that's normal you have never read the breed standard!

CKC breed standard:

Quote:
The Shepherd Dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or
handler, nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or
showing nervous reactions to strange sounds or sights, or lackadaisical,
sluggish, or manifestly disinterested in what goes on about him. Lack of
confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character.

Cases of extreme timidity and nervous unbalance sometimes give
the dog an apparent, but totally unreal, courage and it becomes a
“fear biter,” snapping not for any justifiable reason but because it
is apprehensive of the approach of a stranger. This is a serious fault
subject to heavy penalty.
No, it's not normal and unfortunately, it is likely genetic. When did these fears first develop? Please tell us a bit more about his history.

I had a Shiloh shepherd who was fine as a pup, but went into a 'fear period' at about 8 months, and never came out of it. Suddenly she was scared of children, small dogs, men, bicycles...the list goes on. I worked with her for a year and a half and there was very little improvement. It took 3 weeks in an obedience class before she'd even take a treat from me, and nearly the full 8 weeks before she took one from the instructor. Her preferred spot in the class was hiding underneath my chair.

I assisted at her whelping, and took her home with me at 8 weeks, so there were never any things in her life that might have caused these fears. Other Shiloh owners also reported problems with timidity in their dogs. Some even had trouble getting them to leave the house to go on walks!

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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-20-2018, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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He is afraid of things outside the house and backyard. If we have friends or friends dogs over he'll acts like a big puppy and play with / lick everyone. The front yard isn't fenced and he is slowly getting comfortable there. The minute he is off his property he's scared. Trips to the vet, walks down the street, etc are terrifying. That said, after a week of walking down the block he has improved, slowly. He leads on the walk until a strange person, dog, or drains are encountered. Last week he'd flip out. Now, just pulls on the leash to get away.
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-20-2018, 04:26 PM
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How long have you had this dog?

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-20-2018, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by dave2336 View Post
He is afraid of things outside the house and backyard. If we have friends or friends dogs over he'll acts like a big puppy and play with / lick everyone. The front yard isn't fenced and he is slowly getting comfortable there. The minute he is off his property he's scared. Trips to the vet, walks down the street, etc are terrifying. That said, after a week of walking down the block he has improved, slowly. He leads on the walk until a strange person, dog, or drains are encountered. Last week he'd flip out. Now, just pulls on the leash to get away.
He sounds just like my girl, so buckle up because it's likely genetic and won't go away. That said, with work, you can minimize the impact and help him build confidence. I used to joke that Shadow was the only dog I had ever met who was pulling harder on the way home.
I am a huge fan of using agility equipment/obstacles to boost confidence and trust. I worked hard at getting Shadow to stay solidly focused on me when she is scared. We started in the yard with a simple "look at me" heavy rewards and praise for eye contact.
Shadow had an issue with lawn signs, we spent endless hours standing 20 feet away, then 15, then 10. I just moved her away until she settled enough to manage and kept her there until she was calm enough to be looking around, then we moved closer.
We had to work at finding a vet, because she would freak out and snap at them. She's always muzzled but they still didn't want to deal with her.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-20-2018, 11:00 PM
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He's in good company...Rumo (my dog) is uneasy about storm drains too! I thought maybe he never lived in a neighborhood with storm drains before?

Over time, with my total Non-Reaction (I let him avoid it, or I let him approach cautiously, whatever...I leave leash loose) he has gradually stopped his weird behavior of circling far away from them. I even caught him standing there sniffing down into the hole a few times. So I guess he could be said to be cured.

I think part of helping Major is just to be relaxed on your end of the leash, like, "What? Meh. This is nothing."
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Rumo ~ rescue shepherd/husky mix
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-21-2018, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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How long have you had this dog?
We picked him up at 7 weeks. He appeared to be the pick of the litter, the only one of the pups that came over to meet us. The others all hid.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-21-2018, 09:36 AM
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We picked him up at 7 weeks. He appeared to be the pick of the litter, the only one of the pups that came over to meet us. The others all hid.
That right there proves an issue. You should have turned and walked away immediately. I'm guessing the breeder did things very poorly and the pups got no socialization, along with them having weak nerves. It sounds like you will be in for life with his fear issues. A trainer might be able to help you build some confidence in him, but I highly doubt he will ever be a solid dog. Hopefully you love him anyway.
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-21-2018, 10:03 AM
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Back when my husband was still alive, we stopped to see a litter of GSD pups.

Mom hid behind her owner, barking at us.

I couldn't get us out of there fast enough. Even back then, I knew that timid temperament could be genetic.
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 09-21-2018, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Sabis mom View Post
He sounds just like my girl, so buckle up because it's likely genetic and won't go away. That said, with work, you can minimize the impact and help him build confidence. I used to joke that Shadow was the only dog I had ever met who was pulling harder on the way home.
I am a huge fan of using agility equipment/obstacles to boost confidence and trust. I worked hard at getting Shadow to stay solidly focused on me when she is scared. We started in the yard with a simple "look at me" heavy rewards and praise for eye contact.
Shadow had an issue with lawn signs, we spent endless hours standing 20 feet away, then 15, then 10. I just moved her away until she settled enough to manage and kept her there until she was calm enough to be looking around, then we moved closer.
We had to work at finding a vet, because she would freak out and snap at them. She's always muzzled but they still didn't want to deal with her.
Oh my goodness! We all have the same dog. I had no idea. Shelby is high content GSD, so I thought it might be because she is mixed. She is only comfortable in her house, her yard, or her car. Ironically, she loves going to the vet and relaxes there - even had a big GSD boyfriend at her last visit. Generally, she is afraid of dogs too, but not at the vet.

Walking Shelby is like walking a horse. If something freaks her out, she starts backing up. It's a wonder she doesn't rear up. And yes, Sabis, she always wants to get back home.

In addition, my Shelby is the Forrest Gump of the dog world. She's not a smart dog, but she knows what love is. LOL!
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