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Hi All! So I recently had to put my beloved GSD to sleep, swore I would not get another because my heart was broken ... and then saw an ad for a six month old GSD pup who needed rehoming because his elderly owner was hospitalized.

I live in an urban area and purebred pups on the cheap can end up with BAD owners. So I went and got this guy. His name is Saber. I think he was very loved but of course his owner was really ill. The man’s daughters ended up with the dog in an apartment. Often caged.

The pup is super thin. He is sort of ...floppy. His muscle tone is bad. They said he throws up a lot. The front leg tendons are bendy. And he is frantic for food all the time!

Our vet says he is basically healthy. We immediately put him on high quality puppy food and he hasn’t thrown up once. We are giving him plenty of exercise, but mostly in our big backyard so he can run and rest and walk at his own pace with our other dogs.

Is there anything else we should do to help Saber? He is sweet tempered and a tad timid, as if he has been harshly corrected (they used a prong collar, which we have removed). I just want to help him get over his somewhat iffy start in life. I can tell he wants to please. We plan to sign him up for a training class to help his confidence. Any advice about pups who had a rough start would be appreciated! And say hi to Saber!
 

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My first GSD came from a similar situation. She had been malnourished her whole life. I remember driving by her place when she was a pup, and being tempted to call the Humane Society because she was just a bag of bones. Your pup looks good by comparison!

When her owner finally went into a nursing home, and my aunt and uncle took her in, she was 5 years old, 26" tall and weighed 35 lbs.

All I did was love her. And train her. She had been a farm dog, and had never learned how to walk on a leash, or any of the other stuff a city dog needs to know.

It was my first intro to how smart this breed is. After 6 weeks on obedience class, went in a Fun Match novice level obedience class. She scored 175/200 points!

Good luck with your guy! I just hope he doesn't develop any long-term health problems as a result of the malnutrition.
 

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Good looking pup!I would keep doing what you already are.Give him a lot of time to regain his muscle tone and acclimate to your home.As he relaxes and begins to trust you I would begin to expose him to the world a little at a time as he can handle it.It's such a good feeling to watch as they come out of their shell and their real personality shines through.
 
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When I foster dogs that have been trained abusively in the past, I try to go the opposite direction and used positive training methods to rebuild their trust and confidence. Clicker training is often a great choice because they have no negative association and have likely never encountered a clicker. It's like a blank slate. I also recommend working with a trainer committed to confidence building -- every bit of training you do for a while ought to be about building self-esteem, setting the dog up to succeed.

If they have a name that has been screamed at them (evidenced by cringing or cowering at the sound of it), then I change their name. The old one gets banished, never to be heard again. They deserve a fresh start.

Regarding food, I would add a fish oil capsule (it can be a human-grade one from WM, Sam's, Costco, etc., or a high-end dog supplement -- your choice). It will help bring some condition back to the coat, gradually.

I would also make sure not to try to put weight on too quickly or feed too rich a food. They need slow, steady weight gain. Malnourished pups are at serious risk for developing painful (but temporary) panosteitis if they get a quick, sudden growth spurt, which often happens when they get better nutrition. Talk to your vet about that risk, and review your food choice with the vet, if you haven't already -- they should be able to do it by phone. Our rescue's vet often wants us using a large-breed puppy food (not regular puppy food) in these circumstances.
 

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The relatives may have abused the dog, not the original owner. I wonder if you could visit the sick elderly person in the hospital? You could tell them she is with you now, and she is happy and doing well.
 

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Excellent idea, Nurse Bishop! I took my dog to visit her owner in the nursing home, and he was very glad to see her, and vica versa (she nearly knocked him over!)

When it came time to go home, however, she never hesitated for a moment, as I headed for the door...
 

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@Magwart - I LOVE this!


"If they have a name that has been screamed at them (evidenced by cringing or cowering at the sound of it), then I change their name. The old one gets banished, never to be heard again. They deserve a fresh start."
 

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It sounds like you really have a handle on things. Be consistent - firm, but fair. He had a rough start and that stinks. Don't go overboard by feeling sorry for him. Treat him with the same expectations you have of your other dogs. Love him and train him. He will be great. I am so happy that he found you and you were able to open your heart to a new wet nose.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The relatives may have abused the dog, not the original owner. I wonder if you could visit the sick elderly person in the hospital? You could tell them she is with you now, and she is happy and doing well.
I send the family videos and pictures. I don’t think the family abused Saber, they just had — old fashioned? — ideas about dogs. The daughters are thoroughly Americanized but I think Dad was an immigrant and dogs are not trained or treated all the same in different countries. It seems to me that this was just a gruff man with a sensitive pup and then everything got upended by illness and his daughters were trying to care for the pup in a lousy situation until it was clear that the Dad wasn’t going to be able to take the dog back.

Sometimes well-meaning folks make mistakes. Lord knows I have made mistakes with various dogs in my lifetime. The amazing thing is that the dogs love you so much that they think you are great even when you fail them.
 

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Dogs have unconditional love.
 
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It's entirely possible the dog is just genetically timid and has never been treated harshly at all. Just because he came with a prong collar does not mean he was treated harshly. If the person was elderly, it was probably used to control him because the elderly person lacked strength. The person obviously lacked the ability to properly care for him if his body condition is as bad as you say.



My advice is to stop trying to make up reasons for the puppy's behavior, which only does the dog an injustice, and just train the dog in front of you. That starts with positive training and teaching him what behavior you want. AT this age, you should be motivating and rewarding.
 

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It's entirely possible the dog is just genetically timid and has never been treated harshly at all. Just because he came with a prong collar does not mean he was treated harshly. If the person was elderly, it was probably used to control him because the elderly person lacked strength. The person obviously lacked the ability to properly care for him if his body condition is as bad as you say.



My advice is to stop trying to make up reasons for the puppy's behavior, which only does the dog an injustice, and just train the dog in front of you. That starts with positive training and teaching him what behavior you want. AT this age, you should be motivating and rewarding.
Yes he might be just a timid guy or perhaps all the changes have unsettled him. I’m not trying to make up reasons, just thinking it through. The prong collar isn’t something I am crazy about but I don’t associate it with abuse, it was just super tight. My vet had trouble getting it off. Again, though, he probably just got bigger and his situation allowed the collar to get too tight.

He is doing a bit better every day. We are going to enroll him in a class that starts in two weeks. All positive training and vet recommended. I think he will really thrive with more training.
 

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I ask about time because while of course he could be genetically fearful, he may just be presenting that way because he’s new in your home. He may never change, or he may prove much less timid once he settles in and trusts his new home.
 

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I fostered and kept a dog that had been neglected for years. He always had issues, but he became an excellent family pet and we loved him. You are doing everything right. He is a pretty dog. Hopefully he can grow into his potential with you.
 

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My vet had trouble getting it off. Again, though, he probably just got bigger and his situation allowed the collar to get too tight.

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Did they leave it on him???? All the time???
 
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