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Last November I found a male GSD in one of our cow pastures. Long story short, could not find the owners, no microchip, etc. and he is still here.

He was estimated by my vet to be 10 months to a year old when he was found, so I am guessing he's around a year and a half at this point. I have no idea if he was abused when he was younger or if it's just his personality, but he is very shy and fearful. He is in no way aggressive (of course, we do not push this or put him in situations to test this!), but he is wary of most people/situations.

He was very attached to me from the very beginning and is more confident when I'm around, but will hardly even go to my mom (who we live with) when I am not home. He seems to know who I am closest to, as he immediately attached onto my boyfriend as well (the only other person he will "cat rub"-as I call it- against). I would also like to add that even though he is very attached to me, he does not guard me against people/other dogs. He was even mildly attacked by an off leash Staffordshire on one of our walks and did nothing. No, he was not hurt, most was for show and I scared the bejeezus out of that dog and he did not come back. From then on out, I carry pepper spray. Would hate to use it, but you have to protect your own.

We go on regular (almost daily) 3-5 mile walks around my semirural neighborhood and he LOVES it. He does meet people occasionally and as long as I reassure him, he will allow pettings and has gotten MUCH better, but how can I make him even more confident? I am thinking I need places where he can see more people, but is far enough away to not have to interact with a bunch of people. I figured when he gets more confident in this type of situation, I can get him to meet more people.

Thoughts on this? Any good readings I should look into? I'll admit I have not done much training with him. He never wanders far from me, his recall is almost 100%, and he can do silly things like BANG BANG! (play dead), but that's all we've done. He even heels most of the time as if it's just his nature.

I would love to take him on some trips with me and my boyfriend when we go hiking/camping. I am sure he will be fine, as we will be going to places where there will be little human interaction, but I am not trying to do a "trial by fire" type thing.

Hope this makes sense and I hope I provided enough information. If not, please don't hesitate to ask anything and everything!

Markie
& Capone
 

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i think you should start socializing. enroll in a class or find a trainer.
 

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Sounds like you're doing pretty well so far. For socialisation, we took ours to places like petco, lowes, and Home Depot with a bag of treats and had willing people meet and treat with them. Screen the people well though. Make it a positive experience with lots of praise and know your dogs limits.
 

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Thanks for the replies!

Doggiedad - I would consider a class, but there are only Petco/Petsmart classes around here, and I do not trust them with any of my dogs! I have consulted a trainer that I know from school and the general consensus was just get out more, was just covering my bases to make sure I wasn't missing anything ;)

I will start taking him with me as often as possible to dog appropriate places and parks. I think I will have a better idea of his limits once I get him out there. Will take some high value treats to keep him interested. Our Petco/Petsmarts are pretty low traffic, but that is probably better for him at this point. I will make it a point to go there with him once a week (it's in the town over from mine) and also walk him through more residential neighborhoods.

Sorry if this all sounds silly since it's pretty obvious I should get him out more. I guess I just needed some reassurance on what I'm doing is right! Thanks again!
 

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Hi,

I'm at a loss as to why you are afraid to have him around people. What does he do? Retreat? Bark? Snarl and bare his teeth? Always remember we send our insecurities down the leash to the dog, and GSDs can practically read our minds. Start training him daily, get mom involved. Have mom feed him, too. Neuter him. Get him out with people everyday. But do not, I repeat, do NOT go up to strangers with him while you are fearful. He will interpret the situation as a threat.

I recommend professional training sessions so that you learn how to train, interpret his body language and work on your confidence. The dog's confidence will follow.

Btw, petco can be a plus or minus. Myah had anxiety in petco when she was little. Too much dig traffic and stimulating smells. She hackled up big time! She's fine, now. But I take her everywhere with me, tethered to my side, for training and socialization.

Good luck.
 

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the more you can teach him the better he will feel about himself. Think about it like this. What if you went to a foreign country, where you didn't speak the language, had no education, and didn't know the laws and you were sorrounded by people who might kill you. You wouldn't feel very confident in your ability to make it through the day withou getting hurt or killed or arrested right?

If you learned to speak to somebody, anybody that was nice to you, and they explained the rules of conduct to make everyone like you, you would feel more secure. The more training and socializing in a positive way you can do, the better he will feel. Quiet praise and not making a huge deal about it when they do something right goes a long way with a scared dog. A lot of the working breeds truly bond to one person only, they will either tolerate or make welcome whomever their chosen person says is ok. The other poster said to let mom feed the dog. She is right, also, let mom give the dog a treat or two every day in the morning, and he will remember that she was really nice to him all day. If he does something wrong, you be the alpha and correct gently. Mom should not correct until after he bonds to her and wants to please her.(sees her as another alpha) she should be play and treats, everything good. When you take him out, make sure you have a way out if he gets over stimulated, and stay in mostly adult situations with him until he gains self confidence and control before introducing him to kids. When it is time to introduce kids, use kids you know are nice and self controlled, and tell them you would like their help training him. Tell the kids to stand in front of him a little ways away and beg him to come to them. He will look to you as to your reaction, and you can tell him go on, and pat him, and walk him to the kids. Thank you for taking in tthe stranger in the field, when you take a dog out of a failed life, and give it warmth and security, you have a friend for life.
 

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It sounds like you're doing a really good job and hitting all the big points. :)

A lot of it is just patience and practice. There's no magic shortcut. Just patience and practice and doing more of what you're already doing: building your relationship and gently pushing the boundaries of his 'safe world' to help them expand. Be lavish with praise when he does things right, and supportive when he makes mistakes.

Going out to meet more/new people, and starting from a distance, is a good idea. It sounds like your dog is on the milder side of the fear/shyness continuum, based on what you've described here, and that he has a lot of trust in you, so those are two big pluses.

I guess all I'd add is to be aware of stress levels and thresholds, and stop whenever you can see that your dog is getting tired and beginning to reach his limit. True behavioral rehab is always a very gradual process, so take it slow and be patient.

Karen Overall's relaxation protocol might be useful to you as an addition to whatever other training you decide to do; I've found it useful for all sorts of things. But I don't have anything huge to add beyond what's been said. :)
 

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Hi,

I'm at a loss as to why you are afraid to have him around people. What does he do? Retreat? Bark? Snarl and bare his teeth? Always remember we send our insecurities down the leash to the dog, and GSDs can practically read our minds. Start training him daily, get mom involved. Have mom feed him, too. Neuter him. Get him out with people everyday. But do not, I repeat, do NOT go up to strangers with him while you are fearful. He will interpret the situation as a threat.

I recommend professional training sessions so that you learn how to train, interpret his body language and work on your confidence. The dog's confidence will follow.

Btw, petco can be a plus or minus. Myah had anxiety in petco when she was little. Too much dig traffic and stimulating smells. She hackled up big time! She's fine, now. But I take her everywhere with me, tethered to my side, for training and socialization.

Good luck.
? I am not afraid to have him around people. I apologize if you interpreted that out of what information I have given. He was neutered within a month of me having him. The object of this post was to simply get reassurance as to how I should approach this. I have gotten great information and I appreciate that.

Mom feeds him if I go out of town, but besides that, I will not have her feed him. The dogs are my "thing" and I just feel it's unnecessary.

I used to work for a trainer (basic obedience classes and agility) and have worked at kennels/doggy daycares. I guess I came off as knowing less than I actually do (better than coming off as knowing more than you do, IMO!), but I do know dog body language pretty well. I have not, however, had a dog fearful like him, so I wanted people's opinions. I do not have confidence issues when it comes to this kind of thing.. only the dog.

As to taking him out to see people daily, I will try for several days per week, but may have to work up to incorporating him in daily. We live out of town and I do not go into town every day. Believe me though, I am starting to get him out as much as I can :)

I appreciate your feedback.
 

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the more you can teach him the better he will feel about himself. Think about it like this. What if you went to a foreign country, where you didn't speak the language, had no education, and didn't know the laws and you were sorrounded by people who might kill you. You wouldn't feel very confident in your ability to make it through the day withou getting hurt or killed or arrested right?

If you learned to speak to somebody, anybody that was nice to you, and they explained the rules of conduct to make everyone like you, you would feel more secure. The more training and socializing in a positive way you can do, the better he will feel. Quiet praise and not making a huge deal about it when they do something right goes a long way with a scared dog. A lot of the working breeds truly bond to one person only, they will either tolerate or make welcome whomever their chosen person says is ok. The other poster said to let mom feed the dog. She is right, also, let mom give the dog a treat or two every day in the morning, and he will remember that she was really nice to him all day. If he does something wrong, you be the alpha and correct gently. Mom should not correct until after he bonds to her and wants to please her.(sees her as another alpha) she should be play and treats, everything good. When you take him out, make sure you have a way out if he gets over stimulated, and stay in mostly adult situations with him until he gains self confidence and control before introducing him to kids. When it is time to introduce kids, use kids you know are nice and self controlled, and tell them you would like their help training him. Tell the kids to stand in front of him a little ways away and beg him to come to them. He will look to you as to your reaction, and you can tell him go on, and pat him, and walk him to the kids. Thank you for taking in tthe stranger in the field, when you take a dog out of a failed life, and give it warmth and security, you have a friend for life.
This was a great analogy! Makes a lot of sense :)

While mom won't be feeding him, I will make it a point for her to give him some treats on her way out to work. I am definitely "his person" like you talked about. He seems to know when I tell him it's ok. Once he does something (even jumping on a new object, going to a new place, etc.) he is ok with doing it again, so that's good.

I will have no problem having kids to "train him with" --we have 7 in the family! He actually really likes the only girl we have in the family, probably since she is an animal lover like me and knows to be quiet and gentle with him. The boys are too loud for him at this point. And, of course, these meetings are always supervised ;) Thanks for the advice!

I am so glad I took him in. He's such a good dog. If he did in fact get dumped and not lost, I can't imagine why.
 

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It sounds like you're doing a really good job and hitting all the big points. :)

A lot of it is just patience and practice. There's no magic shortcut. Just patience and practice and doing more of what you're already doing: building your relationship and gently pushing the boundaries of his 'safe world' to help them expand. Be lavish with praise when he does things right, and supportive when he makes mistakes.

Going out to meet more/new people, and starting from a distance, is a good idea. It sounds like your dog is on the milder side of the fear/shyness continuum, based on what you've described here, and that he has a lot of trust in you, so those are two big pluses.

I guess all I'd add is to be aware of stress levels and thresholds, and stop whenever you can see that your dog is getting tired and beginning to reach his limit. True behavioral rehab is always a very gradual process, so take it slow and be patient.

Karen Overall's relaxation protocol might be useful to you as an addition to whatever other training you decide to do; I've found it useful for all sorts of things. But I don't have anything huge to add beyond what's been said. :)
Thanks for the advice! I will look into Karen Overall's relaxation protocol and see what that is. Have not heard of it before now.

Yes, I believe he is on the milder side as he does not show any aggression. The most "aggression" he has shown was when a nephew of mine was chasing him around the yard and he did a high pitched, scared growl. Don't worry, the parents called him out and this did not go on long. He has since let this nephew pet him and things have been fine.

I will keep everyone updated on our progress :)

Also, I apologize for the three posts in a row. This is the first time I have used the "quote" button lol.
 
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