Puppy (19 weeks) fear issues - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-23-2013, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy (19 weeks) fear issues

Part of our training is to have him walk on a loose leash and sit when I stop. The trainer said it was good to walk him through our neighborhood. He is scared of other dogs, but in some situations he is getting better.

On our first walk these two gorgeous German Shepherds started barking as we approached their house. They are behind a solid gate so I didn't think much of it, but Riley freaked out. He was circling on the leash and I could not get him to focus for a bit. (normally when dogs are far from him he's ok, but the trainer thinks it's because he didn't know where they were. He never saw the dogs.) I just kept him moving. Then we got to some kids playing in the street and the scooter noise was freaking Riley out. I again kept him moving, but the child seeing the dog was scared started following us with his loud scooter. I finally stopped, put Riley in the grass and turned to confront the child. Thankfully the child didn't want a confrontation so he rode away. I didn't think anything more of it and we continued walking home. This was our first walk around the neighborhood.

Today we are walking and a little girl is on a scooter. Riley started to back away and growl. I really don't want him showing aggression like that to kids or people out on a walk. Is the damage done? He was ok with the kids just playing, it was the scooter that got to him. How do I undo his scooter fear?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 10:36 PM
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That might be too much too soon for Riley. I would say continue taking him out and getting him used to noises and kids and dogs and people, but it has to be a gradual process. All of that all in one walk is pretty overwhelming for him! To build his confidence, he will need positive/non-scary exposure to these different situations. See if you can find quieter neighborhood to walk him, or go at times when there are not so many kids around. Stay calm and centered when he freaks out, and make him move on in a no-nonsense way. Work with him before he reaches his threashold of fear - for example, with the barking dogs, stay at a distance where he is not reacting, and praise and play and reward for ignoring the dogs, then gradually move in closer.

With the kids on scooters, if there is a park or someplace with lots of kids, spend some time at enough distance that he does not react, engaging him, getting his attention, rewarding his attention on you, then gradually work your way closer.

When I talk about working gradually closer, I mean do it over a period of several days - some people try to get their dog over a their fears like in, 15 minutes, and get frustrated when it doesn't work. Each dog is different, so use your judgement to see when Riley is ready to move in closer and not get past his threshhold.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 11:41 PM
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I spent a lot of time at the park on a park bench just me and my dog watching the world go by....kids, dogs, bikes, skates, etc. It paid off, because none of these things phase her and she is not reactive to anything. She continues on her way and ignores everything...the kids are the hardest part, she is eye level with them and she loves to sneak in kisses

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-25-2013, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the advice. I will definitely do follow it. I really don't want his fears to turn to aggression.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 12:39 PM
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After initial leash training, the first thing I train is "stop sit", and "ok let's go". When my puppies encounter frightening new things (yard dogs, garbage trucks, etc) I put them in
"stop sit" mode, and after they settle I do a "ok let's go". If they have serious issues with
this, I bring some meat pieces in a plastic container and lure them past the threat. If
I am in a "no easy way out situation", I resort to picking them up and carrying them past
the threat, and then make them "sit" as soon as we are slightly past the threat.

They never get totally taken away from the threat, only far enough to snap them out
of the panic mode. Sit is my dogs "you're safe and secure" state when they are with me
so I always do "stop sit" when they are distracted, and then I get good eye contact
from them and then we do an "ok let's go". I make a point to go back to where we encountered previous threats and do "stop sit".

Rinse, lather, repeat - It works.

I clicker train eye contact as one of the first training things. I believe it helps a lot.

This basic system has worked very well for me for three dogs now.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 03:12 PM
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Kids and Chihuahua are so mean Your first walk experience is pretty similar to ours. There is a tiny chihuahua who live on the second floor of the house barking at us. There is a little girl on a scooter who like to see the puppy get scared. I started walking him that route since he was 10 weeks. He was scared back then. But now that he is 15 weeks old and he "think" he is a big boy. He willing to explore more. He likes to investigate that scooter and ignore that chihuahua completely.

Meanwhile I did what llombardo do. I have him ride in the car with me pretty much everywhere. We park it at the park so he can see what is going on around him. Works pretty good

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 04:38 PM
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I redirect Jack's attention away from the scary thing. "Jack, Look at me." Once I get eye contact, a cheerful, upbeat "Let's go!" and we continue on our merry way.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 06:01 PM
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Only one thing to add...

We had similar issues with Zeus when he was much smaller (he'll be 6 mos. on the 19th).

Essentially, we didn't allow him to run away and he is massive and very strong when he wants to pull. We would make him sit stay and we'd stroke his back while reassuring him with a low tone of "Good Boy".

Good news, he's all but cured. Cars, motorcycles, men with large hats, people with yard implements (rakes, shovels, etc.) don't bother him any longer. Neither do barking dogs on leash or behind fences, visible or invisible.

The only time I've even seen him flinch of late was when some kids were playing hide and seek and a little girl come onto the trail we were on quickly and ran past him. He backed up and gave a warning bark or two but recovered his stoicism and curiosity quickly.

We're grateful. Like you, we were worried about fear-based aggression. No need to worry now. He's a sweetheart.

Lastly, I agree with the use of treats in situations like those you're experiencing. They are more effective than anything we've tried in taking his mind off of something that he finds threatening.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-24-2013, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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We are doing better with our walks. I'm taking it pretty slow. He hasn't had a serious freak out lately.

He is also enrolled in another training class. This one has more dogs in it. The first training class was just us. Next week we have to walk between other dogs. I'm kind of nervous. He is scared of other dogs, but getting better. This week he didn't bark or growl at any of them.....but a times he really didn't want to walk past them.
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