Fear and Lack of Confidence - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 15Likes
  • 1 Post By Jax08
  • 5 Post By tim_s_adams
  • 2 Post By Jax08
  • 4 Post By Jax08
  • 2 Post By Chip Blasiole
  • 1 Post By kimbale
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-20-2019, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
New Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 12
Fear and Lack of Confidence

I have a seven month old working line puppy that seems to lack confidence with certain things. For example, stairs, reflective floors, hopping into the car, and small spaces make him reluctant and sometimes he down right refuses to go there. I worked with him on the stairs and reflective floors issues by feeding him treats on them every day until he would go up and down the stairs. Now he's happy to go up and down stairs that he knows, but stairs in a strange location are still scary to him. I'm using a similar method of coaxing him into the car and am seeing progress.

He's always been very friendly and outgoing to new people and dogs. I've started taking him to obedience classes with a trainer who is familiar with working line GSDs. The first two classes she did used him to demonstrate with, but it was pretty normal stuff like heeling/sit/down. She did handle his paws, ears, tail, and flip him on his side to demonstrate how we should get the dogs used to being handled to make veterinary care easier. I had been practicing the paws, ears, and tail, but not the flipping which I think might have freaked him out because now he is scared of her. He tries to pull away when she gets close, hides behind me, and barks at her. If she takes his leash he gets very afraid and looks at me and shakes. He doesn't act like this with anyone else, but I'm also the only one who ever does anything with him.

The trainer says he's doing this because he lacks confidence and that I should correct him with a leash pop when he barks and reward him when he quiets. Unfortunately, it's difficult to practice this since she's the only one he acts like that around.

My questions are, is this the right way to handle this fearful response? I don't want to make his fear worse, but I also don't want him to think acting up is appropriate. (So far I've only really corrected him for chasing the cat and those corrections seem to roll right off him.)

Next, does anyone have any suggestions for confidence building exercises? My older dog (a mix) is very afraid of strangers and my biggest fear is that this puppy might end up like her.

Thank you in advance for any advice!
brittanyS is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-20-2019, 05:01 PM
Crowned Member
 
Jax08's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: NNE PA
Posts: 29,529
How exactly did she flip him on his side? With force? Did she hold him down? Did he struggle?

Environmental sensitivities like floors seem to be genetic. Your puppy is definitely showing signs of fear. I think instead of correcting him for barking at her, I would want her to stand quietly and let him come to her to be treated to show him that she's not to be feared. What is correcting him going to do while he's shaking and hiding behind you?
misfits likes this.




Jax08 is offline  
post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-20-2019, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
New Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 12
She just kind of held him and put him on his side. He struggled for a second or two and she held him and then let him up as soon as he stopped struggling.

That was kind of my thought, too. She only said to correct him when he's barking, but I'm worried it might cause him to be more fearful.

I think I may have gotten complacent because he does so great in places he's familiar with that we just kind of go to the same four or five places all the time. I've decided I should probably bring him to new places more often and hope that helps with his confidence levels.
brittanyS is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-21-2019, 12:32 AM
Knighted Member
 
tim_s_adams's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,308
Just my 2 cents, but yeah, if it were my dog I'd find a new trainer, (a) because I would not allow a vet to forcibly roll my dog on its side, and I sure as **** wouldn't allow a trainer to either! And (b) because you cannot correct a dog into being confident!

My dog is and always has been pretty rock solid environmentally, fireworks, gunfire, cars and semi trucks, pans dropping on the floor, elevators, trains, steel grates, none of it bothered her a bit. But she had no reason to go into the basement at home ever, and consequently developed a kind of phobia of all things subterranean. I first noticed it when she started giving subterranean store entrances a wide birth, and verified it at home by trying to get her to follow me into the basement. Totally irrational fear, and really my own fault for not ever taking her down there as a puppy - it just didn't cross my mind!

I got her over it by leashing her up and taking her down there, but such a direct approach may not work well for all dogs. Once in the basement I just let her explore, then did some light obedience work. After a few trips down like that, she was fine going down on her own. But it depends on the dog as far as how fast you can go. Watch the response, if your dog is cringing and shaking I'd definitely take it a bit slower! It's really about trust. If your dog trusts you, and you honor that trust by not overwhelming him, you can incrementally help him get over these fears. If he's pushed beyond his threshold frequently, he won't trust you enough to make progress.

I personally don't like using treats for things like this, because IME 95% of the time people don't do it long enough to really accomplish classical conditioning which takes a long time and many many many repititions. I prefer to reward them for obedience around the distraction of the scary thing, and then incrementally move closer.

Just saw your latest post, so I'm updating to add: absolutely change things up as you're working with him. Dogs are incredibly good at patterns. Breaking it up and changing his routine is a key element in teaching him to focus on you and pay attention! Good luck, but I think you got this! You care enough to notice and to ask and question things!

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

Tim

Last edited by tim_s_adams; 04-21-2019 at 12:38 AM.
tim_s_adams is offline  
post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-21-2019, 01:04 PM
Crowned Member
 
Jax08's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: NNE PA
Posts: 29,529
Quote:
Originally Posted by brittanyS View Post
She just kind of held him and put him on his side. He struggled for a second or two and she held him and then let him up as soon as he stopped struggling.

That was kind of my thought, too. She only said to correct him when he's barking, but I'm worried it might cause him to be more fearful.

I think I may have gotten complacent because he does so great in places he's familiar with that we just kind of go to the same four or five places all the time. I've decided I should probably bring him to new places more often and hope that helps with his confidence levels.
Yes. I think you should but you need to work within his threshold. He's a young dog and what you describe is straight up fear. I have no problem correcting for barking but it depends on the circumstances. If the dog is hiding behind you and barking, that's fear. I would back the dog up and try to find the threshhold point then reward for not reacting while working them closer to the target. If the dog is in a forward motion and just being a butthead, then I use a nylon choke collar and give them a correction. I gave my male his first correction for butthead barking at about 5 months old. Two corrections and it was over. He's almost 6 years now and does not do that nutty stuff.

BUT...that is not what you are describing. You need to teach your dog that there is nothing to be afraid of and I don't think a correction has a place in that equation right now.

What I want to see in my puppies when something worries them is recovery. I go up, touch it, talk to them, reward them for coming forward. If they are backing up then they are way over their threshhold.

The fact that she took a fearful dog that she is a stranger too, manhandled him and then wants you to correct him for being scared of her speaks volumes to me. I think you need a better trainer and some one on one classes.
Sabis mom and CometDog like this.




Jax08 is offline  
post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-21-2019, 01:11 PM
Crowned Member
 
Jax08's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: NNE PA
Posts: 29,529
Have you ever heard of LAT? Look at That? It's where you teach the dog to look at things and then look back at you. You then reward the dog. So the dog can be taught to calmly look at the things that worry him and get rewarded for it. It worked WONDERS for my girl that was dog aggressive because she was attacked. Her behavior had gone on long enough that I did have to correct her for the reaction but combined with LAT, it made such a difference. YOU are NOT at the point of correcting!!




Jax08 is offline  
post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 10:29 AM
Elite Member
 
Heartandsoul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,549
"(So far I've only really corrected him for chasing the cat and those corrections seem to roll right off him.)"

can you clarify what your correction was and if he got the message of no chasing cats through your correction and the correction itself had no ill effect on him. Or did he acknowledge your command, he ignored it, you gave the correction but he still chased the cat.

Reason I ask is that ultimately I wanted my boy to obey and only need a mild verbal correction if needed but it took a few collar pops to get the point across. But, my guy took the collar corrections with stride, and they were effective and I would describe his reaction to that correction (collar pops) as: they seem to roll right off him meaning no ill effects by it.

Since he's not afraid of the cats, you and the correction, your answer to these questions may give you a beginning point to work with what kind of correction works for him especially when he is in drive and not afraid.

Don't try to figure this out or remedy it by yourself if you are unsure. Find another trainer. that "shaking in fear" isn't good and that body language is a red flag imho.

Fwiw, I have compulsed my boy as an older pup to go up a small A frame when he first tried but I was the one compulsing and it only took two times before he was enthusiastically going up on his own and during the same class, I encouraged him to go through a large tunnel when he hesitated by crawling though it myself, he was willing to follow, no compulsion, no treats. That also took two times. Point being, two different situations, two different methods for the same pup. What's right for one scenario may be wrong for another while you are building the bond and working through his fears. That bond/trust is your gold, your ace. Build a strong one.

"If you can't see his soul when you look in his eyes, then you need a seeing-eye dog"
Heartandsoul is offline  
post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 11:40 AM
Master Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Botetourt, VA
Posts: 675
As someone said, it sounds like a genetic nerve issue and the trainer is telling you punish the dog's anxious behavior which is caused by his genetics. I would stop going to that trainer. About all you do is either ignore the behavior or use food like you did to pair environmental stressors with a positive stimulus (food.) I don't know what your plans were for your dog, but unfortunately, this response is pretty much baked into the cake. I don't know if you want to post your dog's pedigree, but it might help others as a warning to avoid this breeding if it reoccurs. Have you mentioned your dog's nerve issues to the breeder? It could be a good breeding and you just got the wrong pup since there are no guarantees that a pup will be confident.
Jax08 and kimbale like this.
Chip Blasiole is offline  
post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 12:23 PM
Master Member
 
kimbale's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Ft. Worth, TX
Posts: 514
Great advice from Chip, Tim and Jax. I would definitely find a new trainer. Using force on a pup that is already anxious about stressors is just going to compound the issue. At such a young age, struggling to break free from a forceful hold in an environment that is already stressing the pup out can leave a lifelong impact that stays with the dog. Puppies are extremely sensitive to bad experiences.

I like taking my dog out and working obedience and focus around new environmental stressors. One of my favorite things to do is sit on a park bench in a crowded area (as crowded as the pup is comfortable with) and reward the pup for sitting and watching me as people and things pass by. I don't let people pet the pup, as I want their attention on me and not on the people walking by. If the pup looks away at a person or object, acts calm and then looks back at me, I reward that. I do this over and over at different locations to mix up the environment. Once the pup has some good OB skills on him, I will start proofing those in public, as well. Same scenario, work OB in a public place and reward focus and completed skills.

Something very important to keep in mind, if he starts to show fear signs just walk him away from whatever the stressor is like it's the most normal thing in the world. Do not coddle him or reassure him, because this will either teach the puppy that they are rewarded for fear behavior or that it's okay to act fearful. Just remove the pup from the situation and start working on OB/focus again. If you have identified something he is fearful of, get as close as he is comfortable with and start working OB and focus step by step closer (as long as he is comfortable) until he is able to be near it. This may take a few days/weeks. Do this for about 5 minutes, getting slightly closer and closer, and end the session. Short sessions work the best so you're not putting too much pressure on him and overworking him. You do not need to get right up next to the stressor within the first session, just take however long he needs. Also, if he starts to show nervousness, as soon as he shows signs of nervousness just walk away from the stressor and end the session.

Good luck!
Jax08 likes this.

MacKenzie - Workling Line Female (In Loving Memory)
Wolfram - West German Showline Male [SG1, CGC, DDN, CN, EN, IN, VN]
Bash - Working Line Puppy
kimbale is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-27-2019, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
New Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 12
Thanks for the responses everyone. What you've said makes sense and I appreciate you all taking the time to respond with advice.

I think I definitely need to work on socializing him more and getting him out in new areas around people, so he knows there's nothing to be afraid of. On the bright side, he seems to have gotten over his issue with reflective floors, so I feel better about that. I will also being looking into new one on one classes and teaching him LAT since that sounds useful.

As for corrections for chasing the cat, I started out with just a verbal correction, but he didn't seem to get it. So recently I tried grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and pulling him away with a verbal correction and he didn't seem very affected by that either. He just wanted to go right back to bothering the cat. The only time he leaves the cat alone is if I get in between them and herd him away. I've started practicing "Leave it" with the flirt pole (away from the cat) - he's obsessed with the flirt pole and I figured if I could get him to leave it with the flirt pole, I might be able to get a better response when I tell him leave it with the cat. I think it's helping since the last few times I told him to Leave It around the cat he darted away from the cat, but then darted right back to her. I could almost see him thinking "Must leave cat alone - But I want cat - But I can't - But I want." It's a work in progress, I guess.

Anyway, thanks again everyone for the responses - now I'll get to work practicing with the puppy!
brittanyS is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the German Shepherd Dog Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lack of confidence or just normal behaviour? Femfa Puppy Behavior 7 09-12-2017 04:31 AM
Zelda fear aggression to strangers progress EPIC update!!! VTGirlT Braggs!!! 11 11-23-2015 12:43 PM
Fear Periods Blitzkrieg1 Schutzhund/IPO Training 79 05-20-2015 12:07 PM
Victim in tree.. scared. wyoung2153 Search & Rescue 15 12-13-2013 02:01 PM
Did your puppy go through a fear stage? hudak004 Puppy Behavior 3 03-02-2010 01:51 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome