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Hi! My name is Calla and My GSD is Heidi. I am a 21 year old Nursing student, and she is an 8 month old cutie! and we need your help and advice! :)

Well from everything I have read Heidi is just a typical GSD. And she is a velcro shepherd and I love it! I got her to feel safer at home and for my little beagle a playmate. Although, my beagle stays outside and Heidi stays inside or wherever I am. Watching them play is priceless because Heidi towers over the little guy. Heidi is 8 months and I have had her for one month. She is wonderful and very protective but her downfall is she is fearful, oh and not to mention our last vet appointment ended in her having to be sedated. My heart aches for Heidi because she is so intelligent and loving toward my family and I. I have got to find a way to get her socialized and trained. I am a college student so I have a lot of free time to work with her but I just do not know what to do, and that is why I came to this forum.

Heidi has been to the vet twice now. The first time went relatively well we had our male doctor and a young female vet technician, like me. Heidi was fearful but liked the young female vet tech. She got all her shots, blood work, and heartworm preventive and away we went. During this visit she never ever acted aggressive just fearful.

The next time we went to the vet it was a different story. I was taking her there to get spayed. This time there was a male vet tech and the same doctor, and she lost it. She became aggressive growled, had to be muzzled, and sedated. And she defecated and urinated all over everyone. I was devastated for Heidi. I have never seen her act this way.

Since then I have been trying to socialize her. I have been taking her to the park to watch the people. But anytime someone wants to pet her, she growls, and they scamper off, ha. When she growls it is not an “I am going to eat you up growl” more like “I am weary of you” kind of growl. If I tell her to stop she will but she still does not want them to come any closer. If I hug someone, she becomes okay with him or her. BUT I cannot go around hugging every stranger we meet. I do not think the breeder I bought her from had socialized her at all in 7 months. I plan to put her in obedience class just for the socialization but I am terrified she will lash out at someone if they get to close, what should I do?

She sits, lies down, and comes whenever I ask. She loves other dogs, and we are working on not pulling when we go for a walk. The only problem I have with her if her being fearful of other people especially men, and men that she can tell are afraid of her. The male vet tech was very afraid of her because he had been bitten by a GSD before. My goal would be to have her become an approachable dog at the vet, park, and so forth. I need advice because I have to come up with a game plan.

Also, you can see pictures of Heidi in my album :)
 

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I'd start slow and make everything a positive experiance.

One thing you should do is recruit some brave male friends and have them come over. before Heidi sees them, sneak off and give your male friends treats. Let them give them to Heidi. if she wont take them from their hand then they can place them on the ground in front of her and slowly work up the the hand. she should slowly start to associate new male people with getting treats.

if she is food motivated you can use treats to make any experiance positive.
 

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she is a beautiful pup by the way :)
 

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I have a girl who is terrified to go to the vet. When I came to pick her up after she had been spayed, nobody could get her out of her crate. Even today, if the vet takes her into the back room she will poop, pee and express her anal glands.

She a little shy around strange people, but will let them pet her, and she will go through their pockets looking for food. That's just how she is, though. Just has bad nerves.

Now, your girl is still a puppy and might just need more positive experiences around people, especially vets. You might try visiting the vet's office just for cookies and to have the vet techs pet her.

Also, take her places where people can give her treats and pet her. Have your friends come over, one at a time, to meet her also. Then she'll get to know the good people from the bad people.

Have fun with your new girl, she sounds very nice.
 

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food food food food food food food

You need to be a Pez dispenser of food when out and about! Those treats should be coming as fast as a machine gun BEFORE they get worried and stressed and react!

Distance is your friend!

Clickers!

Have you tried clicker training?

Clicker Training: Marking Your Dog's Successful Behavior



 

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Sounds like you know the answer. Socialization. Too bad we live so far apart. I'd be happy to have your girl meet my 6 month old Brutus.

Unless you want an scared and aggressive dog socialize often. Daily if possible. Keep us posted

Steve
 

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Lots of good advice. I brought my pups on field trips to the vet's office- we just sat in the waiting room with lots of treats, the vet and staff walked them around the office giving treats and we watched other pets come and go. Maybe that would help get her used to place without anything actually happening to her other than treats and praise. She is beautiful
 

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Such a pretty girl. You have the right idea and some great advice. Let the class instructor know ahead of time the problems your having and they should be able to help also. We can not stress enough the treats, have everyone treat her! She is still young enough to turn this problem around, just keep all encounters positive.
 

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Unfortunately, the main socialization period for your dog is closed. But that does not mean she can't come around. When socializing an older dog its simply a more trying experiance. Its more like re-conditioning. I don't want this to sound like a deterrent, but rather a point to make sure you have extra patiance with her. Everything must be done slow and at her pace. If she is not doing well in a situation, remove her from that situation because it is only making it worse. Everything must be extremely positive and treats do work magic. The key is baby steps. If she is growling at people at the park, don't wait until they come up to treat. When she looks at the person coming in the distance thats when you treat. They get closer treat again, etc. She needs to get to a point where she associates these situations as positive, but it will take time. Good luck!
 

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Your girl sounds just like mine. Outside my girl is pretty much okay now which has been accomplished by taking her everywhere with me, bringing lots of treats, not minding when she won't take them from strangers, and using them myself when she does not bark and hackle up. Inside my girl stinks with strangers and I'm actually looking for a local behaviorist for her to extinguish reactiveness. All I can say is be consistent with her and patient:)
 

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It might not hurt to find a trainer who will work with you one on one. Make sure he or she is using positive reinforcement. Even better to find a trainer who is familiar with the breed. There is a lot you can do to help your dog.

Check out Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt (DVD set and book). There is a game she calls "Look at That!" which helps teach a dog to be less reactive.

Leslie McDevitt: Control Unleashed®: Home Page
 

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Discussion Starter #13
wow I am overwhelmed by the response! thanks for all the wonderful advice, and I will keep everyone posted! thanks so so so much! :)
 

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I'm also a first time GSD owner though my puppy shows aggression out of protectiveness rather than fear. If I've learned anything in these past few months, it's:

1. Give it time. I'm an impatient person and this has been the steepest learning curve for me!

2. Keep sessions short and only slowly and gradually increase the stress trigger - Literally, a couple minutes and control the stress by only exposing your puppy to either one person or one dog at a time.

3. Always end on a good note - don't remove your puppy from the environment after stress kicks in, remove her when all is fine and dandy

4. Observe YOURSELF in a very objective and honest attitude. My puppy's breeder always tells me, before you start worrying about your dog's behavior, ask youself, "How am I feeling?" Dogs are extremely sensitive and it quickly becomes a chain reaction when you think she's scared, then you get nervous that she'll get aggressive, she does get aggressive, now you're really nervous, and it just spirals. The more your dog shows fear, the more confident you must be, "Hey buddy, chill. Nothing scary here." Of course, dogs are fantastic lie detectors so you might want to practice being calm and in control when the environment isn't going to stress you out.

Lastly, it's better to muzzle your puppy and sedate her than to let her stress level get so high she feels she needs to fight her way out. Her urinating and defecating might also mean that the stress drives her to such an extreme point that she loses control of bodily functions. Muzzling her will at least keep her from getting to that point of stress. Muzzling her also stresses you out less and when you're calm, she'll calm down more easily too.

I had to muzzle my puppy and have him sedated last time we went to the vet because I haven't learned to handle him appropriately in that environment. The muzzle will be a temporary solution until I learn to handle him properly (i.e. not freak myself out! the more nervous I get, the more aggressive my puppy gets) and I suspect you might be in the same boat.

Does Heidi show interest in treats under stress? Treats are great but my puppy tends to show zero interest in treats when he's stressed or excited.

Hope that helps!

P.S. Where did you get Heidi?
 

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Pretty girl, looks a lot like mine(referring to the dog ;-) ). You haven't had her long so it will take a while for her to completely trust you, but that will come. Take her to as many places as possible for her to meet all sorts of dogs and people. Don't expect much, just let her progress at her own rate. My dog was similar in that she was very afraid of the vet's, since she had some frightening experiences there in her early months... plus the fact that she is not all that brave. She is still afraid but making good progress with being handled, lifted and poked. I brought her out of her shell by taking MANY MANY trips to the local park where she could meet people and dogs. She started out between my legs and now she is very calm, cool and collected in all circumstances. To be honest, she is still shy but all her experience leads her to try to overcome her shyness on her own.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hey Everyone, just wanted to get on here and make a quick update! Heidi is doing great, She has been enrolled in Classes at Petsmart and we have been taking lots of walks in the park and doing a lot better! wanted to say thanks again for everyones help :)
 
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