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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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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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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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