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This is going to be a long post, so I apologize in advance.

We got Shadow about 6 weeks ago. She's a 5 year old reg GSD. My father in law bought her from a breeder when she failed to produce show quality litters, and failed to win in show's herself (she's german bred, and they apparently favor the american type - I have no idea about breeding).

Anyway, when Fred, my father in law, got her, she exhibited symptoms of separation anxiety right from the get go. He couldn't go to the bathroom without her following, and she's do the poop and pee thing if left on her own even for a short period of time. She adored Fred, and after 4 or 5 months, she stopped the poop and pee thing. She was an excellent dog when it came to kids and tolerating them. Anyone she knew could hug her, play with her, etc. Very friendly girl. Yet she was still very nervous of different situations, such as getting her nails cut. Or if she got into something that was a no no, she over reacted.

Anyway, she prooved to be a very active girl, and too active for my in laws. Out of love for her, and knowing that she needed more exercise than they could provide for her, they asked if we'd take her (I always told them if they ever needed a home for her, I'd take her).

So we got her. Right from the first day we got her, she was on us like glue. Especially my husband. Now she's the same with me since he's been back to work. But she's soooo scared of the strangest things. If she takes a cookie from the coffee table that the kids left behind, she hides in the corner in shame. We've never done anything to her for anything like that, nor has my father in law.

This afternoon, I noticed that she had torn off one of her nails to the quick, and I tired to have a look at it. She layed down and rolled on her back, tail between her legs. So I just left her alone.

This evening, we were sitting on my bed (me, my husband, and Shadow) and I tried to show him her nail. I barely touched her paw. She again tucked her tail between her legs, but suddenly jerked her head up, and ran off. I now have a bloody fat lip.

I did not get mad at her at all for this. I tried to comfort her, but she actually urged until she threw up.

I know that her breeders boyfriend/partner is an ass when it comes to dogs. Does this seem like an abuse case? I can't quite figure it out because she's an excellent dog with us and my kids, but she's just so scared of the strangest things.
 

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It does seem like she was abused, might take some time.

Mine has never been abused though and he has alot of phobias, he doesnt show fear with ME though. He is afraid of thunder, etc i mean to the point he gets weird: paces and pants, etc which I think could be something that hurts his ears?
Im not sure....since the mop fell over him, he walked by, hes afraid of the mop now LOL He also seems afraid of the garage which is strange because as a puppy I would leave the door open and he would lay out there on a rug!
 

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It's hard to tell and unfortunately they can't tell us. Pretty much everyone who meets Rocky thinks he's been abused in his life but we've had him since he was 10 weeks old and never laid a hand on him-- he's just weak-nerved. Lots of dogs don't like having their paws and nails handled. I'm not saying she hasn't been abused, just that it's hard to know one way or the other.
 

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hmm im not sure i got a female GSD about a month ago now and she was real shy almost like she was abused when we fisrt got her. But i have noticed she is scared of thunder also she has finally come around thax to some advice i got through the nice people here. She is still a little timmied when we have to tell her no about getting into things that she is not suppose to but she seems to be getting out of that also. In ur case i would say it sounds like to me which im only a person not a trained pro. that she might have been abbused as a little puppy and that she has a complex about athority. it is possible she will come around with time.
 

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i kind of agree that you may never know for sure, i expect you'll get alot of good and different opinions from people here who have lots of experience in behaviors of the gsd.

however, i do really want to thank you for taking her in, and for caring enough to try and find out what is causing her to behave this way. maybe it is a combination of a very sensitive dog who in the past was treated with a heavy hand.

in any case, not getting mad and having patience are two good things, that i know for sure...

good luck and many blessings to you, your family, and shadow. thank you again for giving her a home (ps...hope that lip heals up really quick!).
 

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I think it's hard to tell - sometimes a dog shows pretty strong signs - like if they are extremely hand shy and cowering. But in many cases the signs of abuse, neglect, poor socialization, and just plain nervousness all look similar.

Zora is a rescue and quite nervous girl. There are odd things that evoke terror - she sneaks water at night and is terrified if we see her. We pretend to not see her creeping silently to the water bowl, but she's never been corrected for it, and never even started this until we'd had her a year. I cannot ever use the "B" (Bad) word around her, even if I say it to the other dogs she gets very upset. She vomited almost every time we took her in the car, out of fear, for her first 6 months with us.

We have no idea why she is fearful of these things; but her foster Mom did believe she was abused. She could also just be a very poorly socialized, neglected, and fearful dog - we just don't know. We are very gentle with her though and she's come a very long way since we first got her 3 years ago.
 

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It sounds like she was trained with aversive methods and she now lacks confidence in herself and trust in people. You are doing the right thing by ignoring her behavior. I would start doing basic obedience (actually some shaping exercises with clicker training would be really good) and set her up to succeed with everything. My Basu was just like her when we got him. I had to actually change the names of commands because everything caused him to fall and his back and show his belly. It took patience, work and time but he came around and was very laid back and confident in his later years.
 
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