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Ok guys (and girls..lol) I could use your help:

Mya, my 3 y.o. female is a great girl. She is obedient, has a great recall, and we practice NILIF training at home. She is extremely smart and understands a lot of what i ask of her.

My issue is, that per breed standard, she is extremely shy/nervous. This only happens in public places, anywhere besides home. At home, she will bark at the door when someone knocks (which i allow, because i rarely can hear it from the other end of the house) and then she happily welcomes guests into the house. But if we go anywhere she tends to shake, act paranoid, and refuses to allow anyone to pet her. For example: We stopped at petco for a few short minutes to pick up a few items, and standing in line, things got a little hectic for her. There was a woman in front of us, and a few poeple behind us in line. I asked her to sit, and focus on me, which she did (not happily, but she obeyed) but then refused a treat from me, and quickly stood back up. She kept looking around, and moving if someone in line stepped to close to her. She was shaking the whole time. I could tell she was very very uncomfortable. Then of all things, one of the employees walked up and tried to pet her. She is NOT a biter, even out of fear, she would rather duck and cover behind me. The woman laughed and told me "what kind of sheperd cowers back?" I was insulted by her and said, well if you didnt just rush her and try to reach over her head to pet her, she probobly wouldnt have hidden. So anyway, i kept a close eye on her, paid for our supplies and left as quickly as i could just to get her out of there and back in the truck where she is comfortable.

Mya was socialized as a pup, not as much as i should have probobly, but only since i've been on this site did i realize the amount of socialization needed for a GSD more than other breeds. We've had GSD's before, but growing up i just got to play with them and was never involved with training or socialization.

So what i need help with is ways that i can boost her confidence, and help her not to be such a nervous wreck....

Another example i think i should mention.. Ever since Mya was a pup she has been going to family picnics with us at my grandpas. (we're italian so the entire extended family gathers outside, approx 20 people or so) all of whom Mya has met and been known to. Still to this day when i take her, I tie to 20ft lead to the tree in the corner of the yard where she can lay in the shade and just hang out. She barks at family as they arrive (to which a firm quiet she stops) but she will not allow anyone to pet her, and she wont take treats from them either. If i have her leashed sitting with me, and a family member calls her to them, she will try and hide under my feet or chair and just look away from (avioding eyecontact) until they give up. A few of my cousins have dogs (blck lab pup 4months, and a chihiahah, and bishons) and Bear will play with them til he falls over from exhaustion, but she wants nothing to do with this and would rather hide under her mom.

I'm really at a loss with her, and i have no idea what i can do to help her. Otherwise i would say she is a "perfect" companion to me. I would even like to attempt a CGC, and maybe even therapy work, but she needs to get over this fear of new strange things...

Sorry for the length, but im desperate! lol
 

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You're lucky she's not aggressive AT ALL, because this is the exact foundation for fear biters. This dog needs to get out all of the time, and on leash with you showing her the world is not such a scary place. Tied to a tree watching life is no way to live. Get her out and make her deal with all of this. Take her everywhere, and ignore her when she cowers. If something spooks her walk her back and forth by it 20 times with a relaxed matter of fact demeanor. When she stops trying to avoid, praise the crap out of her and move on to the next thing. Enlist your big family to help you at these events, and tell them to completely ignore her at first. Walk her through all the people on leash over and over and over and over and over... well you get the idea. She is scared and she needs you to show her how to act. The tree is not teaching her anything but let her fester in her own fear. Everntually, then you can move on to your family feeding her treats.
 

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Hi Ailyn,
I'm new on this forum, but not new to GSD's - have had them for over 20 years. At this point in your girl's life, I'd say she's probably never going to be a confident, outgoing girl. But there are some things you can do to help with her nervousness.

1) Find her a doggie pal that IS confident and outgoing. Sometimes, if they spend enough time together, the shy dog learns and takes cues from the more outgoing dog.

2) Do lots of independence training, like learning "stay", or a "go out". This helps with teaching them that, even if you are a ways away, they are safe.

3) Agility exercises really do wonders to build confidence.

4) Make sure that EVERY interaction she has with a stranger is a wonderful one. And start slowly, at a level she IS confortable with.

5) Be patient with her. It's hard not to get frustrated when working with nervous dogs, but, believe me, they sense it. The calmer you are, the better your result will be. Practice things like deep breathing. The dogs DO notice that.

Hope you see some improvement with these suggestions. Hang inthere, and keep us updated on how she does.

Sincerely,
Mary Anne
 

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tibvixie101
Quote:My issue is, that per breed standard, she is extremely shy/nervous
This is not part of the breed standard Aloof is part of the standard but shy/nervous is not.

The information posted by the previous posters is good info.

Dogs that are insecure really benefit from lots of firm and fair leadership. You can't baby this dog, but you have to keep her from reaching her fear zone where she can't react properly. Dogs that are in fear mode can't mentally process thing correctly, so you need for her to understand you are in charge and you will protect her.

My DeeDee is weak nerved and when I know we have to do things that she is going to have trouble handling I will put a leash on her even at home. Example, thunderstorms are a big problem for her, but she needs to go out and go potty. Big problem if I don't put a leash on her and take her out in the fenced yard, but put her leash on and she will do what I ask (go potty) and she is better because the leash is like an umbilical cord so to speak.
 

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lol i guess i worded it wrong... i meant to say she is no where near breed standard when it comes to behavior. lol typing to fast is my fault!

When we go out i try to bring them both with me, because Bear (for a year old) is such a great influence for her. He willingly accepts anyone petting him, and will always drop and roll for a belly rub. Mya on the other hand would rather stick by me and watch him take in all the attention. The only problem is, Bear is somewhat hyper (as your usual 1 year old male is) lol and its hard for me (tiny tim over here) to handle the both of them together when im trying to help mya over her fears. Bear will see something that needs investigation and head that way, while what he sees mya sees and she runs in the other direction, so my arms are spread out trying to get this one back here, and this one over here to show her theres nothing to be worried about. So taking them both usually requires assistance from the DF.

I will from now on when i bring her, make sure no one does the usual "Hi Mya, what happening pretty girl, aww your so pretty" crap they give her after i've told them a million times just to ignor her and let her get situated. Other than my dad, my family is more of a foo-foo type of dog, so when they see her i want her to be a good example, and i wish they could see her at our home, where shes in her finest figure, being the model GSD everyone wants to have. Instead they get a bag of nerves that trembles in their presence.. lol.. I know its a serious situation and i'll continue to try all of your advice to make her happier and more at ease during rough situations.

I do have one more thing though that i thought i would add... When we go to the park for a hike, she is usually off leash (she has a 99% recall, with the 1% being she was in the midst of a potty before running back to me) But if she is offleash and we go to pass someone on the trail, she will take off and run in the opposite direction to aviod the stranger. The trails are tight, only wide enough for one or 2 people to pass at a time. Usually, when she does this, i walk back a few paces, and call her to me. She almost does a combat crawl towards me, then i leash her, and she is fine walking past the person. Its almost as if she has to be leashed to me to walk by someone, even if they are completley ignoring her and just enjoying their walk.

We've been working on people watching, where we pick a bench and just watch them walking along. I can see her focus in on a person, and she lets out the tiniest growl, I'm talking barely heard, more of a grumble under her breath making her lips push out the air, but i calmly tell her Shh and then i talk to her in a calm voice silly things to make it appear to her that i am not bothered or concerned for our safety as they pass.... things like "look at that silly man wearing that hat? what was he thinking, it doesnt match his outfit" LOL things like that, so she hears the tone in my voice is calm, but asserting to her that their is no need to worry. Its helping alot she'll actualy give up and lay down (ears back.. yay!) and just look around and as people pass us, i give her a jackpot of cheese cubes (her fav!) lol.... I think we're ready to take the next step there and ask some passer byers to give her a treat. The only problem there is finding someone who is willing to walk up to this "scary GSD" they've never met and give her a cookie. But i honestly dont think she'd take it anyway.
 

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Originally Posted By: tibvixie101
I do have one more thing though that i thought i would add... When we go to the park for a hike, she is usually off leash (she has a 99% recall, with the 1% being she was in the midst of a potty before running back to me) But if she is offleash and we go to pass someone on the trail, she will take off and run in the opposite direction to aviod the stranger. The trails are tight, only wide enough for one or 2 people to pass at a time. Usually, when she does this, i walk back a few paces, and call her to me. She almost does a combat crawl towards me, then i leash her, and she is fine walking past the person. Its almost as if she has to be leashed to me to walk by someone, even if they are completley ignoring her and just enjoying their walk.

We've been working on people watching, where we pick a bench and just watch them walking along. I can see her focus in on a person, and she lets out the tiniest growl, I'm talking barely heard, more of a grumble under her breath making her lips push out the air, but i calmly tell her Shh and then i talk to her in a calm voice silly things to make it appear to her that i am not bothered or concerned for our safety as they pass.... things like "look at that silly man wearing that hat? what was he thinking, it doesnt match his outfit" LOL things like that, so she hears the tone in my voice is calm, but asserting to her that their is no need to worry. Its helping alot she'll actualy give up and lay down (ears back.. yay!) and just look around and as people pass us, i give her a jackpot of cheese cubes (her fav!) lol.... I think we're ready to take the next step there and ask some passer byers to give her a treat. The only problem there is finding someone who is willing to walk up to this "scary GSD" they've never met and give her a cookie. But i honestly dont think she'd take it anyway.
My take on the first paragraph above is that she is not far enough along in her development to be able to be off leash on the trail. A field, sure. Not the trail. She needs to learn to deal with strangers, and she needs to learn that from you. You cannot control her reaction if you are not attached to her. The second paragraph could be an issue. If you are speaking to her in a friendly voice when she behaves fearfully then regardless of the words and your intent the message to her will be "it's O.K. to be fearful, and you get praised for this". You need to ignore her and make her deal with it, which is why I don't like being stationary for any of this or tying a dog to anything. If I am moving with her leash in my hand she cannot fixate on fear, she has to worry about me and I am MOVING OUT. Then, I make an abrupt about face and go by it again. Over and over conditioning her that this is all normal and there's nothing to be afraid of.
 

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I don't want my dogs to be social butterflys that wag tails, beg for scratches and treats from strangers. I don't want my gsds to take anything from anybody but their immediate family. Yes, I've had some poisoning issues in the past. I want my dogs to tolerate a scratch on the chin or head, if I say its okay. No one gets to come up to my dogs without me giving them permission to do so. Then I tell the person and my dog that it is okay. Everybody is on the same page. No surprises. Why put a fearful dog into a public stressful situation? If you know she's stressed, its up to you to keep that situation from happening. At the family picnics, she would probably feel very secure laying under the shaded table, on top of your feet - leashed. If you want to be the social butterfly, leave her home
 

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Quote: So what i need help with is ways that i can boost her confidence, and help her not to be such a nervous wreck....
Have you taken any 'fun' based classes training? Purely positive like a clicker training class? Or one that teaches tricks? All positive based with food and rewards to help with her confidence in pleasant way.
 

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Originally Posted By: elginhaus Why put a fearful dog into a public stressful situation? If you know she's stressed, its up to you to keep that situation from happening. At the family picnics, she would probably feel very secure laying under the shaded table, on top of your feet - leashed. If you want to be the social butterfly, leave her home
Ummm, so it becomes not stressful anymore? Young dogs especially get stressed very easily in a lot of cases, and socialization can work through these issues.

I DO want my dogs to be social butterflies, including my 4 year old working line male SchH dog that I do "real" protection work with as well. I bring him or my female every time I go to the car wash to get some good stranger interaction away from a training field in a normal everyday setting. Balance is a good thing, and there's no reason a dog cannot be social as well as "civil" provided he is clear headed which is exactly why I LOVE this breed. As far as poisoning goes, nobody can poison my dogs while I am watching them. If I am not watching them, then they are secure away from anyone that would try.
 
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