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This might be long, so please bare with me

I adopted my Vila girl (gsd/belgian malinois her picture is on the left) from a police k-9 training facility about a year and a half ago. As a breed, she's a great candidate for police work. As an individual dog, not at all. She didn't "make the cut" as I was told, because she is too sensitive and submissive. I thought that I could not only provide an excellent home for her, but help rebuild her confidence. I adopted her knowing what I was in for. She is so sensitive, I can't even say "eh-eh" (let alone "no") without her sticking her tail between her legs, eyes going wide, and cowering. For the longest time, I worked on just building her trust in me by teaching "watch". She couldn't look for literally half a second into my eyes without turning away cowering. I honestly feel real bad for her, that as a sensitive dog that she is, she was put into an environment that was not the best fit for her. They used slip chains, and prong collars, which I don't have a problem with if you know how to properly use them, however, she does not respond well at all to corrections. But that's the only way she has learned how to behave. I apprenticed under a very reputable behaviorist and author and she didn't say "this dog can't be fixed", but she did say not to expect too much more out of her as far as teaching her new cues, or new ways of behaving or . She's loving, housebroken, and gets along with other dogs, but as far as teaching her new things, it is so hard to get her to even sit up straight without cowering. Sometimes she cowers just from my body language, (which I already know how your body language speaks to your dog).

So all in all, I have to be extremely careful in how I act around her, and basically, I want other people's inputs. I never say a dog can't be trained, however, this is the ONLY case I've come across in my experience training that, just as my mentor said "don't ask too much more from her". There's nothing wrong with her, she's a bit "unique" in her behaviors, even when she's happy and playing (like her ball is her secuity blanket...she doesn't go anywhere wihtout it). I love her to death, she is a great dog to have in my life...but what does everyone think of the situation? Sorry if i went on and on
 

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She sounds to me to be a great candidate for clicker training and shaping!

May I ask who you are/did apprentice under and where you earned your "Certified Dog Trainer" title?

One of the other things I find helps submissive dogs is jumping and agility. Learning to do the obstacles builds their confidence and the jumping is fun for them. I think instead of the basic commands (sit, down, stay, come, heel) she should be learning spin, speak, shake and other simple and fun tricks. Use shaping and don't put a lot of pressure on her. I bet she'll come around with patience :) Good luck!
 

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Bare with you? You go first. ;-)
 

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She sounds to me to be a great candidate for clicker training and shaping!

May I ask who you are/did apprentice under and where you earned your "Certified Dog Trainer" title?

One of the other things I find helps submissive dogs is jumping and agility. Learning to do the obstacles builds their confidence and the jumping is fun for them. I think instead of the basic commands (sit, down, stay, come, heel) she should be learning spin, speak, shake and other simple and fun tricks. Use shaping and don't put a lot of pressure on her. I bet she'll come around with patience :) Good luck!
I'm 100% with this advice. This sounds like a perfect dog for this type of clear and concise as well as 100% positive training. So you can get her brains working on learning instead of being worried....

There a chance you have a clicker agility class in your area? Be a good mix.

So easy to teach so many fun 'tricks' with the clicker and if you can add the agility class will help with the athletic part of your pup....
 

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All of the information about where I gained my education from, or the Mentor I trained under, it's in my website. I hope that putting "dog training certification in quotations wasn't out of ignorance. :confused:I Apprenticed under Christine Hamer (CPDT, chairperson of the IAABC, Author of Parenting with Pets). She's wonderful, and I have tried agility with Vila. I had her in an introductory course, as well as did teach spin, smile, and other "fun" cues. She learns them, but is so terrified in anticipation of any type of correction whether it be verbal, or leash. No matter how exciting I make the situation, how tasty the treats, she goes through everything extremely nervously. I have tried baby steps

I've had another associate from the IAABC work with her, and they had the same bottom line. I didn't mean to come across as "other trainers said give up". I wish that I could record some of her reactions and her behavior to better explain her situation.
 

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My older beagle came to me 3 years ago, after spending her first 5 years as a hunting dog who had become gunshy & was subsequently abused in an effort to cure her fear of loud noises. She is still not a very confident dog & has serious issues with noises & new surroundings. Nevertheless, she has made a lot of progress over time. I haven't made an effort to do much formal training with her, but she has learned basic commands by being with me while I work with my younger beagle. At first she just watched, then she began emulating his behavior & when she did I'd give her quiet praise & a little treat, just as if I were working specifically with her. She now looks forward to training time just like every other dog I've had.Having a mentor has clearly been good for her.

Noise is still a major issue, so much so that I got rid of all the clickers - she's terrified of them, & other markers work nearly as well if you're paying attention. One thing I've done which has worked was to do the opposite of what we've been told about not babying a scared dog. When she came to me she had no idea that she could ask for affection or reassurance - she'd spent her whole life to that point with no one to rely on but herself. Holding her & reassuring her when she was frightened has taught hert that she can come to me when she's scared or just wants to be patted. Now when there's a noisy storm she's content to lie at my feet instead of having to be in my lap - definitely progress.

She's gone from a very closed-off scared little girl to putting her paw on my leg to ask for attention. I doubt that she'll ever completely recover from her earlier traumas, but she continually makes small gains, which accumulate over time. Sometimes you just have to go with what works, even if it's not what we've done or been told to do before.
 

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My older beagle came to me 3 years ago, after spending her first 5 years as a hunting dog who had become gunshy & was subsequently abused in an effort to cure her fear of loud noises. She is still not a very confident dog & has serious issues with noises & new surroundings. Nevertheless, she has made a lot of progress over time. I haven't made an effort to do much formal training with her, but she has learned basic commands by being with me while I work with my younger beagle. At first she just watched, then she began emulating his behavior & when she did I'd give her quiet praise & a little treat, just as if I were working specifically with her. She now looks forward to training time just like every other dog I've had.Having a mentor has clearly been good for her.

Noise is still a major issue, so much so that I got rid of all the clickers - she's terrified of them, & other markers work nearly as well if you're paying attention. One thing I've done which has worked was to do the opposite of what we've been told about not babying a scared dog. When she came to me she had no idea that she could ask for affection or reassurance - she'd spent her whole life to that point with no one to rely on but herself. Holding her & reassuring her when she was frightened has taught hert that she can come to me when she's scared or just wants to be patted. Now when there's a noisy storm she's content to lie at my feet instead of having to be in my lap - definitely progress.

She's gone from a very closed-off scared little girl to putting her paw on my leg to ask for attention. I doubt that she'll ever completely recover from her earlier traumas, but she continually makes small gains, which accumulate over time. Sometimes you just have to go with what works, even if it's not what we've done or been told to do before.
You hit the nail on the head. I don't think she wil fully recover from what she perceives as trauma, and she has made great progress, and she too puts her paw on my leg (or hand) asking "can you pet me?" She is the sweetest dog and I wouldn't trade her in for the world, and I actually said that im glad i had the honor of providing her a home that understands her situation and her needs. Thank you for sharing your story, it makes me feel not so alone :) :hugs:
 

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i am sorry for this situation ...i just hate hearing about these types of gsd's........its a shame, and not suppposed to be like this..

Big hugs to you for giving this dog a chance.......

ok, my first thought when you said her ball is her security blanket,,,,,,,,,,,i think you might be able to use this to your training/focus advantage.......extend your arm to the side holding the ball, she will probably look at the ball, but just wait, she will make eye contact at some point, and the minute she does, use a marker word like "yes" i would practice this alot.............make a real happy deal out of this..............i think you'll see some progress with eye contact doing this.............favorite toys can play a huge part in training........
 

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i am sorry for this situation ...i just hate hearing about these types of gsd's........its a shame, and not suppposed to be like this..

Big hugs to you for giving this dog a chance.......

ok, my first thought when you said her ball is her security blanket,,,,,,,,,,,i think you might be able to use this to your training/focus advantage.......extend your arm to the side holding the ball, she will probably look at the ball, but just wait, she will make eye contact at some point, and the minute she does, use a marker word like "yes" i would practice this alot.............make a real happy deal out of this..............i think you'll see some progress with eye contact doing this.............favorite toys can play a huge part in training........
her ball is HOW i get her to do anything, but she's soooo addicted to it, that without it, she's her skiddish, shy self. I try weaning her off her ball, and its as if nothing has happened. Believe me, Im not saying I've been training for 15+ years or anything, but I have tried and exhausted just about EVERYTHING. She's still a good girl though
 
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