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Dog Timid / Anxious

2134 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  wolfstraum
Have had our new/1st GSD 3 weeks now- HE is 14 months old from very reputible breeder-bonded within 3 days- with me and wife he is a very social FUN dog but when strangers approach can be very fearful/timid backing away - breeder SAYS he was socialized???- one on one so playful but so timid in strange environment!- Any ideas to cause/cure....
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Welcome to the forum....I run a rescue in Indiana. This is a very common problem here at the rescue for many new arrivals.
Things you have to consider: age, new enviroment, and new stimuli...
The first thing he needs to know is that he can trust you and look to you for support and this comes with time. It is most important not to encourage his fearfulness by stroking him to calm him when he acts out. This will re-enforce the behavior. Talk to him gently and reassuring but letting him know that he will have to face the demon...Give new people he greets a treat to encourge him forward. Tell the new person not to make eye contact and let him come to them. Act as if he is not even there. Do all this on a loose lead. A tight lead witll tell him that this is a situation to fear and be on alert. I would also not encourage the use of a pinch collar. This will heighten fears in some dogs. A flat collar is all you need. Do not permit him to stand there and bark at people. Nip it in the butt immediately. It sounds like in his case it would be fear based and we do not want to encourage that.
I would suggest a puppy class for him. Look for someone who uses positive re-enforcement vs. harsh methods. This guy sounds like a softy and needs kid gloves.
I would ask the breeder just exactly what he was exposed to and how often he was taken out in public. Lineage can also play a part in his fearfulness. I would certainly seek advice from the breeder. If they are as reputable as you state they should be helping you with the new puppy. I am curious why he was 14 months old when the breeder sold him to you? Were there any more in his litter that you can compare temperaments to, as well as his mom and dad?

The most important thing to remember is to take him everywhere. The more he sees the less he will be fearful of...

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The breeder kept him and his sister from a litter to check out the progeny so she says- his father is Sch3 and so is mother- she has a lot of her older dogs all females including his sister for sale now- he just seems very immature at 14 months ie doesnt lift leg to pee, but a GREAT house dog- not a SINGLE problem in 3 weeks.... he just loves to play ball.
Have you found a good trainer to work with? Dog classes?

You need to be very careful to take him out and about in public (don't overwhelm) and have people over to your house. He's at the age that if you unintentionally isolate him because he's having problems, he may become a HUGE problem with being overly protective (from a fearful place) and you'll have to keep in the house/yard for most of the time.

Act happy yourself (high happy voice!) when you see people coming (they can be across the street, don't overwhelm him). Or find a park bench that's a bit isolated so he can calmly watch the world go past.

I personally would start bringing a ziplock bag of treats and clicker training. So everytime we see someone I'd click/treat so my dog would think new people are fabulous and mean chicken/liver/roast beef.....

AND how you react all the time with the dog is important. Being a calm LEADER is key so the dog will learn you are in control so they don't have to be afraid of whatever. Remember your dog is still a puppy in many ways (just a big puppy!). Great articles for this are on:

DOG CLASSES!!!! But calll around for experience trainers that BOTH you and the dog go to.
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armauro, it's a HUGE help to us sometimes with the information we recommend if you can add your GENERAL location to you profile. No specific addresses needed, town/state?

If you go up to 'My Stuff' the 'My Profile' you can scroll down and add a bunch of info (though I only care about location

See where my avatar and number of post has I live in Bushkill, PA? It will show up there.
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Ben came from Pa., Kirchenwald in Gibsonia outside Pittsburgh. He does have a private trainer recommended by the breeder for his GSD experience esp. Schutzhund. Ben was one of the breeders better show dogs- ie he gets along fine with other dogs and walks fine thru crowds aloof to all around- it is when someone approaches him- that is when many he times pulls back- if one lets Ben approach he is better but no wagging tail as such. He seems to lack confidence.Trainer has no answers- he has 4 GSDs.
Quote:He seems to lack confidence.
Are YOU training the dog with a trainer? Or are you dropping the dog off and coming back later to pick him up?

Once again, I'd just use food for this. It's an easy fix if you 'cave' and make it easy. Pack up a ziplock of real treats (cheese, chicken, liver, beef), have a hungry dog. YOU bring a happy and confident attitude, and go out into the world.

When you see someone look at your dog with the 'I love dogs' look, ask that person 'would you like to feed my dog a treat?' and hand over some of that chicken/cheese/liver.

There are many great reasons this works. First of all, your dog should love treats so associate new people with a GOOD thing to replace the fear. Second, when someone has a palm of treats (make them feed your dog like they would a horse, food on open palm) they HAVE to come in to your dog with their hand LOW and under the dogs chin. This is a very unthreatening posture so will calm the dog. The more nomal over the head to pet our dogs can be intimidating and add more stress to a dog that is already uncomfortable.

The reason we have to go to dog classes with our dog is because (frankly
) WE are the problem is alot of the training situations. Just cause we don't know. A professional trainer already HAS the necessary skills and abilities that WE need to learn for our dog. So we need to take the time to get them. Only about 25% of dog classes are about the specific behaviors and skills the dog needs, the other 75% is how WE NEED TO LEARN to teach that skill. So if we don't go, and we don't learn, well.................neither does the dog.
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Lacking confidence is very much understandable if the dog wasn't socialized. The big key IMHO is to get the dog out but don't over do. Many small short duration exposures to new things is much better than longer and less trips.

Three weeks for a 14 month old to really establish a bond with you isn't enough time. A bond where the dog understands what you want, what is expected and that you won't let the dog down or get harmed. That is the bond you want, you just aren't there yet. It takes time. Once you and the dog have worked more together and the dog really begins to trust you some of what is showing as lack of confidence will probably go away also.
I know this dog and KNOW he WAS socialized quite a bit. Puppies are out in ex-pens during training regularly and played with by lots of people. Kids who come with parents and grandparents take older pups out to walk on leads and play. He had show ring training with lots of strangers handling him as a pup along with others in his fact, I know I had him in the training ring a time or two. Even older pups are often taken out in pairs on the paths through the woods with friends/teens who are connected in some way to the kennel. Workmen have been in and out and dogs are around people alot there. I have taken my own pups there to be socialized it is such a good opportunity to get them to meet alot of people when there is training.

It is NOT uncommon for breeders at that level to keep back pups and show them a bit and then sell them. When they are sold, it can be for many reasons, including that another owner will continue the show career or the dog is not going to replace its sire as a stud dog due to being too closely related to other dogs in the kennel. Often pups can be kept back so that they can participate in particular shows to represent the kennel and parents ... super pups are sold as well to owners who say they want to show, and then do not have the level of interest they thought they had.

Ben is a nice boy, be paitient and work with someone - maybe the way people are approaching him is confrontational or their voices are too loud.....who knows....I know the dog had a decent stable temperament !!!

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Lee thanks for the information. I think it sometimes takes nice dogs a while to see someone as a new leader. So at that age they are a bit all over the place until the bond and leadership gets established.

Lee thanks for that interesting info- Ben is a REALLY great/fun dog- very ball driven- he always wants to go play fetch in a big open field- he has been the PERFECT dog at home- not a single behavior issue- his trainer Bogdan says we hit the lottery in this regard.
I think you just need to give it some time - yes, he is social, but he was in a kennel the majority of his time....and socialization was on site and at shows - now he is in a new home, new people and new experiences - alot for a youngster all at once!!! So I would suggest that you need to add to his experiences by taking him to a few select places only, then a few more, and he will be fine....Aloof is different than timid!!! Aloof dogs do not care if people pet them, and there is nothing wrong with that! And remember, pups also go through funky stages and that could be going on as well...he is a nice pup - Congratulations on having WILL have fun with him!

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