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Posting for a friend. Also posted this in the find a trainer section. My friend has a gsd who is a very fearful dog/anxious dog. He rescued the dog when he was 5, the dog is now 7. The dog has become a fear biter especially at the vet. Even wearing a muzzle he will muzzle punch and freak out. My friend has taken the dog to a trainer who came recommended by vet, one who is positive only and he got some good results as far as obedience went, but nothing that helped the fear aggression. His fear aggression is at its worst when the dog is in a new place.

He lives in Rhode Island as well and hasn't found many dog trainers outside of positive only. What training methods would you suggest to look for in a trainer for the fear biting? And if anyone has trainer recommendations. He's going to take the dog to jones animal behavior who is a animal behaviorist but only works with positive only. Any recommendations would be great. Dog is an amazing dog all around, just fear issues.
 

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Posting for a friend. Also posted this in the find a trainer section. My friend has a gsd who is a very fearful dog/anxious dog. He rescued the dog when he was 5, the dog is now 7. The dog has become a fear biter especially at the vet. Even wearing a muzzle he will muzzle punch and freak out. My friend has taken the dog to a trainer who came recommended by vet, one who is positive only and he got some good results as far as obedience went, but nothing that helped the fear aggression. His fear aggression is at its worst when the dog is in a new place.

He lives in Rhode Island as well and hasn't found many dog trainers outside of positive only. What training methods would you suggest to look for in a trainer for the fear biting? And if anyone has trainer recommendations. He's going to take the dog to jones animal behavior who is a animal behaviorist but only works with positive only. Any recommendations would be great. Dog is an amazing dog all around, just fear issues.
Fear biters are dangerous. They require management as well as training. I have one, she's a treasure.
Poor genetics, and improper handling when young can contribute to the problem. I'm no expert, but IMO, your friends dog did not become a fear biter, it probably always was. You may find biting was the reason for it being rehomed in the first place.
Forget the 'positive only', it will very likely make things worse. Find a trainer who can evaluate the dog and give your friend a training plan, but understand that dogs who are fear biters are not to trusted. They need to learn that you are in control not them and that you will make the decisions not them.
Beyond that, crate training, locked gates, secure fences and signs, diligent supervision and handling.
 

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Aww ... Fear Bitter + Positive Only = Waste of time and Money!

If your friend wants to find a trainer that can actually help them take a look at the first link here:
http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/7378442-post9.html

First link "Jeff Gellman" Solid K9 Training - Rehabilitation and Family Dog Training deals with dogs like these day in and day out ...no big deal, he can help people find a trainer local to them.

Hm ... actually Solidk9training is in RI! So there is that .. gonna be expensive though. Still ... he gives his work for free for those that can do it themselves. I am not a "Pro" but "People Friendly" "H/A" or "Fearful" I have worked with them all (rescue stuff) and "I" do the pretty much the "exact" same thing with all of them.

Ultimately they all turn out to be who they will be, it's my job to see that no one or there pets, gets harmed while that process is on going ... "I" find it fairly simple myself?? Others of course are free to disagree. :)

It starts here:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/5296377-post8.html

I would recommend the very first link, I just got a rescue what do I do?? Just flat start over from day one, undo "everything." I don't know if the dog is "Crate Trained??" If he is not ... it would be a good idea to do so, couple of links.:


It's not about keeping the dog out of trouble it's also about setting rules and boundaries.

Moving on the first link has two other links to "Articles" in it, the first is "Who Pets my Puppy or Dog" and the other is "The five Golden Rules ..." I combined the last paragraph of the Five Golden Rules ... a flat "No" touch with a body block if need be with "Who Pet's."

And with that my H/A dog and I went on "structured walks" finding people for him to "ignore." If I stopped to talk he stayed behind me or to my side, and his job was to quitely "observe." I did use a muzzle on him for awhile, then once I see that he was getting with the program ie calm and not really concerned about people ... I dropped the use of the muzzle.

It was still a while before I allowed anyone to pet him (another story) but when I did it was "No big deal to him Dad talks to people all the time ... whatever. So that's the out and about bit, if this dog is still not good with people being 6 to 8 feet away ... no problem we'll get there. :) And least I forget company in the home?? Dog should be in Crate or in Place, and company kept out of his face so the tricking people into the dogs face with the use of treats thing?? Yeah "No" leave him be and if the "other party can't do that" put the dog in a Crate and call it good. I kept Rocky in Place and did use a muzzle for awhile but he was Rock Solid in Place and I was pretty hard core with "No Pet" for company with him ... worked out fine.

Next step ... rules of the house, for this dog more rules, more structure and more limits. No bed or furniture privileges no free roaming in the house. In doors it will need to be "Place or "Crate" period. So ... "Place and Sit on the Dog" great for all dogs is "Place" and especially useful for dogs with issues is "Sit on the Dog" details are here:

Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums - View Single Post - Fearful, Anxious or Flat Crazy "The Place CommanD

That is how you train "calming behaviours" into a dog, the dog learns to chill. Those would be trained indoors or backyard first and then moved to areas with "distractions." Again use a muzzle if need be if the dog is uneasy or unstable but "Sit on the Dog" is done once he understand in areas out of the way, no contact. Where the dog and owner just "Sit and observe no contact required and eventually the same deal with "Place" once trained and use a long line if needed and yet again "no contact" the goal is to "show" him ... "people are no big deal" and he never needs to actually like people but he does need to be safe in public.

And if the owner in question, wants to contact Jeff he can of course. But I feel safe in saying ... that the more of "this" that owners starts ... then the less time his dog would spend at Solidk9training. :)

And in case I missed something, I most likely said it here:
http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/7837361-post12.html

I would say ..."good luck and ask questions" ... but the party involved is not really here??
 

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You got all of that out of this?

"The dog has become a fear biter especially at the vet. Even wearing a muzzle he will muzzle punch and freak out. My friend has taken the dog to a trainer who came recommended by vet, one who is positive only and he got some good results as far as obedience went, but nothing that helped the fear aggression. His fear aggression is at its worst when the dog is in a new place."
 

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Frankly, if you try to correct a fear biting episode, likely it will make things worse.

Of course you want to use positive techniques with a dog that is fearful. The idea is to build the confidence of the dog, stay under the dog's threshold, build the trust the dog has in the owner, and slowly reducing the dog's threshold.

Management is key. The owner has to be aware of the environment and act before the dog reacts.

It is genetic, and there is no cure. But the dog can reach its potential which is usually an improvement from where you are.

Positive only doesn't really exist. But by building the relationship through consistent training techniques, the dog can become more relaxed understanding his boundaries and expectations.

Dog is seven years old. I have worked with dogs that were reactive at 1-2 years old and stable and easy at 5 years. So a dog that is already 7 may be the best thing to do is to accept that he is what he is, how do we manage him to keep everyone safe. Sometimes when we stop trying so hard, the relaxing of all the attempts to change actually improves the situation.

The vet is trying. I mean if you are terrified of the dentist, you can down a valium before you go and it can help. But if the vet needs to assess your dog's condition, drugging the dog before you take him there might be counter productive. I guess muzzle and prong collar for added control, and hopefully the dog doesn't NEED to go to the vet more than once every 2-3 years.
 

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You got all of that out of this?

"The dog has become a fear biter especially at the vet. Even wearing a muzzle he will muzzle punch and freak out. My friend has taken the dog to a trainer who came recommended by vet, one who is positive only and he got some good results as far as obedience went, but nothing that helped the fear aggression. His fear aggression is at its worst when the dog is in a new place."
I did ...yes. A dog that is calm and balanced ... does not suddenly freak out at the vet and become a fear bitter over night??

The "approach" I out lined "flanks the dog as it were" it addresses the issues as a whole, indirectly. I suppose one could address each instance of "instability" one by one?? I would hope however that the dog does not bite the crap out of someone if something gets missed using that approach???

Pretty sure "PO" only trainers would luv the one by one approach ... a steady stream of income, I would imagine?? :)

I'd cut them out of the loop ... "yank and crank" free I might add. :)

My oft mentioned "Bubble Dog" zero issues with him at the vet ... nothing I ever thought about and yes the first couple of times he was in a muzzle .. not needed however, now if the vet did home visits ... that might be different??

But as you know ... the people thing is what I do with my dogs in anycase. :)
 

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Frankly, if you try to correct a fear biting episode, likely it will make things worse.

Of course you want to use positive techniques with a dog that is fearful. The idea is to build the confidence of the dog, stay under the dog's threshold, build the trust the dog has in the owner, and slowly reducing the dog's threshold.

Management is key. The owner has to be aware of the environment and act before the dog reacts.

It is genetic, and there is no cure. But the dog can reach its potential which is usually an improvement from where you are.

Positive only doesn't really exist. But by building the relationship through consistent training techniques, the dog can become more relaxed understanding his boundaries and expectations.

Dog is seven years old. I have worked with dogs that were reactive at 1-2 years old and stable and easy at 5 years. So a dog that is already 7 may be the best thing to do is to accept that he is what he is, how do we manage him to keep everyone safe. Sometimes when we stop trying so hard, the relaxing of all the attempts to change actually improves the situation.

The vet is trying. I mean if you are terrified of the dentist, you can down a valium before you go and it can help. But if the vet needs to assess your dog's condition, drugging the dog before you take him there might be counter productive. I guess muzzle and prong collar for added control, and hopefully the dog doesn't NEED to go to the vet more than once every 2-3 years.
To be clear "here" I made zero mention of "corrections" or collars.

Although ... let's just say "not correcting" a dog with "fear" issues is not a "universal concept." But ... "off topic" conversation that would be. :p
 

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I guess I read it differently. I read it to mean that this is something that has happened over time and is getting progressively worse.
'
I think OP's friend would be best served by getting his dog a complete physical to see if their is an underlying cause to this increasing fear and aggression.
 

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I guess I read it differently. I read it to mean that this is something that has happened over time and is getting progressively worse.
Well no disagreement there, most likely they did something wrong two years ago ... and they continue to do so??

I guess I'm saying in a roundabout manner, if this dog went to some one perhaps more skilled?? Would they be having these same issues with this dog?? Who can say??

'
I think OP's friend would be best served by getting his dog a complete physical to see if their is an underlying cause to this increasing fear and aggression.
Third party here most likely if the owner in the topic was here someone would have said just that.

But as it is ... you just did. :)
 

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Well no disagreement there, most likely they did something wrong two years ago ... and they continue to do so??

I guess I'm saying in a roundabout manner, if this dog went to some one perhaps more skilled?? Would they be having these same issues with this dog?? Who can say??

Third party here most likely if the owner in the topic was here someone would have said just that.

But as it is ... you just did. :)
This behavior is most likely genetic, not created. I doubt anybody did anything to this dog two years ago.
 

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Positive training does work. It does. Unfortunately, poorly done training is rampant in all methods.

The more dogs you have, the more dogs you work with, the more experience you have the less need for corrections -- across the board. The more confidence you have, the more the dogs tend to simply accept and trust you. It doesn't mean they do not have their own personality and quirks, but life is so much easier.

Dogs like this one, give us a real boost in handling skills and experience, when we have learned to manage them effectively and safely. There is nothing wrong with avoiding situations that we know will be hard for an older dog. What's tougher is knowing that we might never go on vacation again because we own this dog. I mean, we can't bring a dog that is a fear biter with us -- too far out of comfort zone and too difficult on both dog and owner. Can't leave the dog behind, because who do we trust to take care of our biting dog? Ok, fine, we will go to Hawaii in 2023, and just save every year's budget for vacation and travel until then.
 

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I guess I read it differently. I read it to mean that this is something that has happened over time and is getting progressively worse.
'
I think OP's friend would be best served by getting his dog a complete physical to see if their is an underlying cause to this increasing fear and aggression.
Agree with exam, I thought from the post this had been done though. I may have misunderstood. I can tell you that a good many owners report an increase or onset of fearful behavior around 7-8 years old. It seems to be the age were owners start reporting things like fear of storms, loud noises, wind or shadows.
Fear aggression does not develop, dogs are or are not. You can condition and work within thresholds but you cannot remove it, because a good many fearful dogs will NEVER resort to aggression. If you have one that does you need to manage that. And coddling makes it worse. The last thing a fear aggressive dog needs is a cooing handler, or one who won't control them. These are the dogs who need confident, firm handlers.
 

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Dog has been through multiple physical exams and blood work. Nothing medically wrong with the dog. The dog has to be sedated each vet appointment for safety of the vet, he's tried multiple vet and locations but same reaction each time. He hasn't bitten anyone and is very friendly to strangers. In the 2 years he has had him, the dog has only growled at one stranger while being petted as they approached the hips. He does have a confinement fear, the dog will put up a fight rather than go into a crate. Dog is fine free roam of the house, not destructive, enjoys laying on the couch and his dog bed, no accidents in the 2 years.

I'll show him the solid k9 training, I think that seems promising.
 

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I have so much i could say, i just dont even know where to begin. Everyone has been given good advice so far really.. Being the dogs advocate, obedience, and getting them from defense drive to prey or pack drive is key.

You can look at my old threads if you want, most of them involve failed attempts of things, but can give good insight, also some good things that works for me and my FA dog to strangers.

Like Selzer said, you cant fix it, you can help improve it and manage it. Zelda just has bad nerves and high defense drive (like most FA dogs), which is what that dog sounds like too. Its a bad combo to have, but common in bad breeding of GSD's. I groomed a FA GSD the other day, it was a GSD that actually sent my boss to the hospital half a year ago. I kept her on a leash, i walked her out in the yard for 5-10 minutes to build a connection with her. Eventually i gained her trust to get a muzzle on her. And i picked her up, which she did great with and i did the whole groom in the tub (my poor back lol!) But she felt more secure. For her its fight or flight. She knew she couldn't fight back, with the muzzle on, so she felt the need to flight which she learned quickly she couldn't do because of the set up. So eventually she found a position she felt comfortable in and i just did what i could with her. (The dog parents cant brush her at home, so this is why they bring her in..) Anyways, im saying this because security is what they need. My dog likes it when i pick her 75 pound ass up! She gives me full control that way, and she relaxes and i can introduce the fact that there are people in the room and she doesnt have to worry about it. i also know that if i have her facing the option direction of the people she can smell the air (im assuming trying to smell them) and listen to them before she has to see them, and that helps her a lot too. Than i tend to do obedience with her, to put her in another drive other than defense drive, which is what she would go to, if i wasn't on my game.

Boost confidence. By giving the dog a job.. Nosework is a great one. Any dog can learn this. Obedience and treat games. Agility, etc.

A combination of training methods is typically what is needed for any dog. Counter conditioner, e-collar work at low level stim, positive reinforcement, etc.

Management is the biggest thing to take away from all of this though. Doesn't make them a bad dog, just makes them a dog with bad thresholds, nerves and too much of one drive a not of another. Its not the correct balance for a balanced level headed GSD. But i sort of feel like the best thing is if the owner/handler can have a solid trustworthy relationship.

Also a suggestion for the vet visit. Try a basket muzzle than put an Elizabethan collar on. I find this super helpful for dogs that still try to go after you even with a muzzle on, that way they cant, and hit the side of the cone instead.
 

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This behavior is most likely genetic, not created. I doubt anybody did anything to this dog two years ago.
Ah ha ...my opening!!!!

Yes it may very well be "genetic" so yes perhaps the dog will not be all he could have been with better genes??

Still the dog is "paws on the ground with this owner" thus far to late for the "should have got a better dog bit." Proper "training and management" and this dog can still live up to his potential (Everybody's a winner if you will) and if that is a dog that "never likes people" so be it. He can still be made better and safe (within the parameters) I outlined, in "my" view.

I'll note for the record "this" is how these things go "off topic" just saying. :)
 

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Ah ha ...my opening!!!!

Yes it may very well be "genetic" so yes perhaps the dog will not be all he could have been with better genes??

Still the dog is "paws on the ground with this owner" thus far to late for the "should have got a better dog bit." Proper "training and management" and this dog can still live up to his potential (Everybody's a winner if you will) and if that is a dog that "never likes people" so be it. He can still be made better and safe (within the parameters) I outlined, in "my" view.

I'll note for the record "this" is how these things go "off topic" just saying. :)
My comment is not off topic. This dog has had training and according to OP seems to be doing quite well with it. OP never said the dog did not like people, just fearful at the vet's and of new places. I would never call a fear aggressive dog safe and yes, he can most likely be made better as long as OP's friend does not lose focus.
 

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Dog has been through multiple physical exams and blood work. Nothing medically wrong with the dog. The dog has to be sedated each vet appointment for safety of the vet, he's tried multiple vet and locations but same reaction each time. He hasn't bitten anyone and is very friendly to strangers. In the 2 years he has had him, the dog has only growled at one stranger while being petted as they approached the hips. He does have a confinement fear, the dog will put up a fight rather than go into a crate. Dog is fine free roam of the house, not destructive, enjoys laying on the couch and his dog bed, no accidents in the 2 years.

I'll show him the solid k9 training, I think that seems promising.
If the dog goes to SK9T ... I guarantee you he will be Crate Trained!

Any competent, qualified trainer, that can actually help this dog with his "issues" ... will Crate Train this dog!

Free Roaming and the Crate is not about what the dog enjoys, it's about Rules, Structure and Limits. Pet People and I am a member by and large don't understand that, until it gets "hammered" into them hard way!!

For me the "Free Roaming" thing ... "Pack Fights" five of them between my first OS Wl GSD and my AMerican Band Dawg and every time Rocky started them! And every time, he was allowed the "opportunity" to do so because he was "allowed" to Free Roam in the home. Had a done Crate and Place that would not have happened!

Any dog that has "serious" behavioural issues should be on lockdown in the home ... "Crate and Place" and "No Free" roaming.

Most likely if the owner did try and Crate Train the dog?? The Dog threw a fit, the owner said ... well he's not tearing up crap anyway, ... "screw it not worth the hassle." Round one goes to the dog! And it's downhill from there. As I see it. :)
 

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I agree that problems can be exacerbated by too much freedom, freedom without supervision.
 
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