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Hi all, just looking for guidance on giving guidance to my 5 year old (estimate) female GSD.

I rescued her from a county shelter in August. She was a lost and found and when they found the owner he signed her over.

Her teeth are flattened, when asked the vet suggested maybe from chewing rocks or a chain outside but hard to tell.
She may have been abused as she seems a little afraid of me sometimes when I give firm commands. When given a command in a soft gentle way she doesn't quite listen. She does pee submissively at times but not every time.

now for the positive: she will "sit, lay down, go lay down, out, shake", etc. she likes the couch and bed, but does not like when people are close to her. (Me either). I have 2 cats a boy and a girl and the girl about 9 yrs avoids Kimberly almost always but she also avoids everything and everyone. She's an independent cat. Kimberly is still curious of her because she doesn't see her often but will quickly focus elsewhere when I tell her no or to leave her alone. My boy cat about 2 yrs is the exact opposite personality who is nosey and mischievous. That said- Kimberly loves him and they play sometimes, she licks him, and is always very gentle as she knows he is my son and it's an absolute no to hurt him. She will occasionally low growl at him if he struts up in her space but never with her hair up and she never does anything. Maybe just talking to him telling him to leave her be?

so, she gets along well with the cats and listens very well. Honestly, you never know what you're getting with rescues but she is a very well mannered dog. We do have family visitor dogs that come stay with us for a month or two sometimes and it's been fine so far. We think she actually likes friends.

Questions: is it possible to break her of habits at this age? She's estimated to be 5 but who knows. Can I get rid of the submissive pee? Will she always low growl at the cat or visiting dog? Will I ever be able to take her to a dog park? she is a very well mannered sweet girl who seems like she has been through some things and may have low self esteem. I try to be nice and gentle but in the end it is very frustrating and firm is the only thing that works.

thanks!

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If you need to tell her No for whatever reason,try immediately giving her something to do that you can praise her for:DDon't do that,do this instead.
She doesn't like her personal space invaded it seems,and the low growl is how she communicates that.Other dogs are able to do the same with just a look or stiffening up a little and many humans never notice how they ' talk' to each other.Remain aware and make sure her space is respected.She doesn't seem like a good candidate for a dog park at this point.If you focus on building her confidence by emphasising enthusiasm for wanted behavior she'll become more relaxed and understand better how to please you.My guess is she's confused about what is correct and incorrect behavior,so the submissive peeing.This is my best guess anyway,and something for you to consider.I have a soft spot for timid dogs,it's so rewarding to help bring out their true spirits.
 

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Personally I would look for a breed knowledgeable trainer in your area. If you are comfortable sharing your area you are likely to get suggestions on local trainers.
Do I think you can train her? Yup! Some things are going to be management more than training. Genetics and history are playing roles here and of those things genetics can't be fixed but can be managed. It's up to you to lay the foundation of acceptable and not acceptable behaviors. She sounds like a very soft dog and a trainer can help you with the best techniques for correction of undesirable behaviors by observing your dog in person. We can't see her reaction so we can only guess to what is going on in her mind in any given situation. That fact that she listens and takes your guidance with the cats is a good thing. But if she growling, even a low growl, it is a warning. So be mindful on any given day if the cat pushes her she may change course. Best to correct that sooner than later. Tell the dog no and shoo the cat out of the dogs space. Teach both the leave each other along. With soft dogs a simple "eh eh" in the right tone will be enough to get the point across with proper work.

Submissive peeing may go with confidence building. It may not. Genetics is at play here. Again a trainer is key with this. Trainers teach owners more than they do the dog in reality. A good trainer will show you you how to best handle your dog with appropriateness, accuracy and confidence. In return your dog will respond in a way that pleases you both.

Skip any idea of a dog park. Seriously it's not what your girl needs. It's a totally uncontrollable venue that can lead to disaster. Submissive, non confident dogs are usually bullied at dogs parks that will only set any work you've done back. Added, the danger of an attack is real. Kimberly needs to build a bond and trust with you not other dogs. Be her world. If she is getting along with other known well balanced dogs and enjoys a play date that's fine. Go with that. Dogs at dog parks are an unknown...a risk not worth taking. Been there done that...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you guys for the input, I appreciate it! I forgot to add she did have heartworm when I rescued her and has since been treated by my vet and clear of that. Not sure if that has anything to do with anything but I think it's important to note. She has been through a lot so I take that into consideration. As for the cat, he gets time out time in the crate if he slips out of line. He has more of a dog personality anyway. She does love him I think though because like I said she will play with him and be gentle etc. She doesn't growl at him all the time, it's just a once in a while thing but I always watch that when it happens and she usually looks at me. Will avoid dog parks, thanks for that tip. Didn't know if I even had the energy for that but wanted to ask. We will continue to train with each other and get to know each other more, after all, it's only been about 6 months since I got her! Here's a pic of her and her buddies.

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With my 5-month-old pup with a questionable background. I practice Jeykll and hyde. I doubt it is a real training theory.... It is more of a tool to help me remember what @dogma13 is saying.

Even the mildest corrections seemed to shut Ole down (or enrage him). So I use the mildest instructions or corrections as possible (hyde) to stop unwanted behavior. I would then immediately redirect to the desired activity followed by lavish praise and rewards.

He seems to get the idea that there are house rules which are going to be enforced consistently and fairly. Once he figured out the house rules, he rarely needs to be corrected. When he is corrected he realizes that it will be followed redirection and love. The submission went away.

I use 'jeykll and hyde' to remind myself that even if I don't feel like being firm or feel like being loving. It is the pair of behaviors in quick succession that will help Ole in the long run.
 

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That's something to take advantage of "When that happens she looks at me".She's looking to you for guidance.I would shoo kitty away and Kimberly will know you 'get it'.Normally praise would follow,but it might encourage the growl so not this time:)Whenever she looks/checks in with you is an opportunity.
 

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How do you know she is 5? Worn teeth and that much white on her muzzle could mean she is older. You can try training her, but if you want to remove an old habit, you need a professional. It never hurts to take a dog through obedience class if you can find a good one.
 

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That's something to take advantage of "When that happens she looks at me".She's looking to you for guidance.I would shoo kitty away and Kimberly will know you 'get it'.Normally praise would follow,but it might encourage the growl so not this time:)Whenever she looks/checks in with you is an opportunity.
How do you know she is 5? Worn teeth and that much white on her muzzle could mean she is older. You can try training her, buying you want to remove an old habit, you need a professional. It never hurts to take a dog through obedience class if you can find a good one.
How do you know she is 5? Worn teeth and that much white on her muzzle could mean she is older. You can try training her, buying you want to remove an old habit, you need a professional. It never hurts to take a dog through obedience class if you can find a good one.
that is just an estimate the shelter gave. I don't know how old she is for sure. I am going off that estimate. She does have grey coming in on her face and paws.
 

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They told us our dog was five too...
the vet said however that they just label all the adult dogs as five...(!)
but he was definitely trainable and has changed a lot!
He is more calm and laidback (and has stopped flinching at raised arms and swinging objects.)

I think that they can always learn, but some habits may be fixed there forever, depending on what the habit is.

hmm and I am not sure dogs can literally have "low self esteem" but I get what you are trying to say!
 

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Any dog of any age can learn. The difference is the motivation. A pup can usually be motivated by play older dogs are tricky and motivated by weirdly simple things. Like a good butt scratch. Lol.
Don't dwell on the past, it's a done deal and it's over. Look forward. I would take No right off the table. Stop using it. Redirect to a behavior you do want. Practice sit outside for now and EVERY time she does it without peeing celebrate it.
Keep it light and happy. Hotdogs or cooked chicken hearts are cheap treats that most dogs love. Keep whatever treats she likes at your fingertips.
I would take her outside on a long line and run backwards calling her to come. Just a few feet. Stop and say sit! in a happy voice and toss a treat to her immediately if she does it without peeing. If she doesn't sit no treat. Lather rinse repeat. A few minutes at a time multiple times a day. You want to recondition the response so it's a good thing.
For kitty same basic principles. Redirect don't correct. If she growls, call her away from the cat. When she comes praise for that.
 
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