Puppy cowering - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-22-2018, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy cowering

Hello, I am just looking for some advice on my 16 week old, working line puppy. He is beautiful in every way and doesn't suffer with nerves, he is solid with loud noises, fireworks ect and is friendly towards other dogs. I am walking him daily and there are a lot of dogs in my area so he is getting a lot of interactions.
However some dogs do bark at him and one shar pei (a dog known for pinning others) dragged its elderly owner towards us clearly aggressive, when this happens he screams and tries to back away. I stopped and got between them, usually I keep walking and ignore his reaction (I don't want it encouraged) providing that the other dog is being restrained. He gets over it really quick and is then friendly towards any other dog he comes across.
On one occasion a poodle mix ran up to him said hello, everything was all friendly on both dogs parts, then it ran away, turned charged and barked. He screamed and backed up, I ignored that but did step towards the poodle and headed it off.
This contradicts two other situations, one were a JRT ran started getting uppity at him and my pup started bouncing and barked/growled back. Tail and ears up.
And another where a big male lab hard stared him, lunged and gave a deep bark hackles up, my pup looked straight at him and was all confident.

I know he is young but I am concerned that this is the start of a bigger fear issue on his part, however I wouldn't say he is fearful in any other way, not of the hoover, not of the iron board that nearly fell on him, no reaction to traffic on his first walk, in all I would say his nerves are solid, and on the occasions he has shown a fear reaction he is quick to step back up to the situation and say hi to other dogs. He does not tuck tail and is happy and forward going on walks.

So I was just wondering if anyone could offer me any wisdom, thoughts or advice on this.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 11:41 AM
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I think my puppy was younger than yours but I'm not positive, a very scary looking and sounding dog charged us on a chain. I didn't realize the dog was there until it charged. Scared the bejeesus out of my puppy. I had to pick him up to keep him from slipping his collar and bolting on me. Which tells you he was pretty young because he grew into a very big boy and I could not pick him up for long.

I never let anything legitimately bad happen to him and he grew up to be a very socially stable dog with other dogs.

So based on that, no reason to think yours wont, but maybe try to walk him places where he isn't being scared all the time so a pattern doesn't form.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:10 PM
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If he is put in a position over and over again where he feels threatened and defensive it could very well create issues.To encourage confidence his interactions with other dogs should be positive.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:35 PM
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For the first couple months of my pup's life, he would run (or try to drag me) back to the house every time he heard another dog barking...or saw another dog. I'm assuming this is the behavior of wolf pups or any wild predators for that matter...that they would run back into their den. So I wasn't too worried that he would grow up to be a fearful dog. As time passed and he got older and more confident, he would stop when dogs barked. You could see the gears turning in his head as to figure out what he should do. Now, he's grown out of it. I didn't have to do anything.


Someone here in these forums once told me (or I read it here from another thread) if you act freaked out, the pup will learn to be freaked out. In other words, how did you react when your dog/pup was scared/surprised/attacked? If you were calm, collected, and confident, then your pup will learn to be that way. And vice versa. I don't know if it's right or wrong, but it's worked out for me.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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Hi thanks for the great replies, I assure you I am not putting him into these positions if I can help it. The Shar pei dragged its owner from across the road. The problem in my area is that I am in a great dog walking area, parks, coast and woodland, however whilst most dogs are sociable some are known problem animals that owners always seem to have off the leash. I was warned about the shar pei from someone else, but thought I was safe cause the dog was over the road, didn't count on the old guy getting towed. And with the labradoodle I had actually boulder scrambled to a completely isolated beach when I swear this woman popped out of nowhere with her dog running loose well away from her.
However for the most part he thinks other dogs are still great, so I do agree that he will grow out of it.

I do stay calm when these interactions happen as I am not really one for flapping anyway and I try and keep him moving past the other animal using my voice (he listens so he can't be that scared), but I was just really worried that my pup was have his nerves wrecked by the incidents, so it is good to hear he is reacting normally. But you can definitely see him thinking about things, he saw a duck for the first time today, he barked at it, than sat down and watched it for a little while. Thanks!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 03:00 PM
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I don't think you are putting him in bad situations, just be aware that if he is repeatedly frightened, regardless of how you act, he may develop a problem.

So you may have to be more proactive and/or walk somewhere else while he is so young and impressionable. It's a tough situation when other people's dogs are out of control. It is what it is.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 04:42 PM
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My puppy, Cassie, is 5 months now. She has made a lot of progress with socialization - less barking and fearful responses. In our case I can say it's been a matter of still having some reactions - good progress, with an occasional step backwards.

My vet wanted me to wait an extra 2 weeks, before taking my dog out in public. My goodness, she did a lot of barking: traffic, her reflection in a window, people in general and other dogs caused her to bark. At 5 weeks, she is doing a lot better, but she is still a work in progress

last week, in obedience class, she started squealing, when a large Newfoundland dog took a step towards her. The other dog wasn't aggressive, just friendly. The dog was still a couple feet away, when Cassie reacted. I think the large size of the other dog scared her.

A few days ago, we took a walk in the park. A small friendly dog (1/3 her size), tried to approach her and give her a sniff. Again, Cassie, started squealing. She has previously gotten close and sniffed and had friendly meetings with dogs in class, as well as the park.

In our example, I'm thinking that Cassie's socialization isn't just following a straight line. She has good days, and then some occasions of showing some fear. A few days ago, she barked because she noticed someone walking behind us, during a neighborhood walk. That was something I'd like her to bark at. Where I live, it's good to know that someone is behind you and to be cautious. Sometimes, I've proactively placed Cassie in a "sit - stay" position to get her out of the way and let another person or person with a dog pass. Generally, when I've done this proactively, she doesn't bark and then I give her a treat when she is quiet.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-24-2018, 10:36 AM
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1 bad dog interaction experience at a young age, can be absorbed by a good socialization process; and, from then on, undertake ample measures for it not to happen again. A pattern of bad interactions, now that!, can lead to a life long fearful and reactive aggressive issues. At least that is what I have learned from the experienced folks in this forum.
We too, had a very similar situation at age 6 months with Red; but it has never happened again; and now at age 1, he is not fearful and a very well socialized GSD.
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