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Discussion Starter #1
Now it's my turn to ask for expert advice. I do need help. My Yana, 16 months old, is a shy and fearful dog and I'm working on her issues since we brought her home at 8 weeks. I haven't witnessed what happened yesterday since I was out with our puppy for his puppy class. When I returned my husband told me a story and suggested to find a different home for Yana.

What happened was that she sneaked out of our fenced backyard (my husband was working on the garden there and she was hanging out with him) and instead of returning back or staying on the front lawn especially that my husband went to get her right away she ran down the street to the neighborhood park full of kids and their parents barking at everybody there.

She was running to them, coming very close, stopping, starring into their eyes and barking their horrified faces with her hackles up, then she was going to the next person, then barking at a kid in a stroller, then she scared the **** out of a small dog and was almost hit by the dogs owner who carried a stick. All this time she did not respond to my husband trying to call her back or get a hold of her.

After her barking spree she returned home on her own and waited for my husband at the entrance door. Something like this never happened before, she is a pretty obedient dog and it looked like some switch was turned off in her head and her mind went blank.

My husband wanted to find her a different home since she was 3 months old but I wanted to give her a chance with us. Now he's so pissed off that I just don't know what to do. Yana is a very good natured dog, I love her, train her and I became pretty good in recognizing what can trigger her into a fearful state. But in this case it looks like there were no trigger and that scares me. I will appreciate any advice and insight into this. I need your help. Thank you.
 

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This sounds totally understandable to me! Yana needs a chance. Hubby may be a bit ticked off, as she refused to respond to him, but.. wasn't she overstimulated by running, chattering kids? Has she been proofed and trained on and offlead both around exactly these types of high-intensity distractions? If not, that is your answer... as great as it is to gently work along with a fearful dog, they need exposure to kids, parks, even crowds, too-- in time. Maybe this was a new situation for Yana? What I am trying to say is, it sounds like she was never trained/proofed around such activity, never had a solid recall under these conditions, and initially approached because the activity stimulated her sense of curiosity, wonder, and maybe prey drive too.. and then when she got there, felt hyper-stimulated by the crazy activity, the new situation, and hubby's frantic demands were not something she was used to responding to in a busy, active situation like this. (and, has hubby himself work with her on recalls in situations with high activity? If not, he can better understand why she did not come for him)

Has Yana been a bit sheltered with her fears? If not or if so, still, time to work with her in increasingly busy, active situations-- on lead. Then progress to using a longline/draglead, in a safe area. Then-- off-lead would come last, once she is reliable under active situations both on-lead and with the draglead on her.

Try not to panic. She was loose, excited, thrilled, horrified, stimulated. You probably can really do more training with her in such stimulating situations, working on focus and recall. This is do-able! She is young, and you have time-- and you can make a plan for working with her.
Find a supportive trainer who understand fearful dogs, and does not overwhelm her or use harsh methods with her-- but who will gradually help you to work her in increasingly busy situations, demanding more of her with time, proofing until she is solid.
 

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Yana, was just over stimulated by being out on her own. That is what caused her behaviorr. Weak nevered dogs aren't the easiest to live with, the do really well with routines, they are comfortable with routine so it makes it easier for them to live.

I see a problem in your house if your husband isn't on board keeping her. I have found that weak nerved fearful dogs don't do well if someone in their home doesn't like them or is distant with them. Many can be hyper sensitive to the people or dogs in their pack.

One thing your husband needs to try to do is to understand Yana, genetics cause her to be this way she didn't choose to be this way. It would be like you husband saying he doesn't like people with Blue Eyes, they can't help it they were born with Blue Eyes, Yana can't help it she was born with weak nerves. So you really need to try to get your DH on board with keeping Yana or I am afraid it would be best for Yana to try to find her a new home.

I am sure that the new puppy has taken your time away from Yana and I am sure she feels that way also. You have upset the routine of the pack. Normally I would say to get rid of the pup, but if your DH can't be open minded about Yana then poor Yana needs a family that will understand her and appreciate her.

I really get upset with people who only want to kick these poor dogs to the curb. Monther nature wasn't kind to them matching up drives and nerves and then humans don't want to work with the problem.
 

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Questions...

1. What is this dog's background? Did you rescue her? Is she from a breeder? If so, what's her pedigree like?

2. How did she "sneak out" of a fenced in yard? If this yard is secure, and the gate was left open by your husband while gardening then that is an issue. She was set up to fail.

3. Give us a snapshot of what a normal week in her life is right now. How much training/socializing does she get in a given week? How much of that does your husband participate in? If he is not working with her, why does he feel she should come to him amidst distraction?

For the meantime this dog needs to be secured at all times.
 

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Originally Posted By: Wisc.Tiger Monther nature wasn't kind to them matching up drives and nerves and then humans don't want to work with the problem.
Normally it's not Mother Nature's doing either, it's the human breeder (or attempt at a breeder) that is responsible. Once again a "dog problem" that's really a human problem.
 

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Yana is only 16 months old. I don't find it surprising that she would take off without a lead on. Most 16 month old dogs do not have solid recall. Why would your husband want to rehome her because of this?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for your responses! I will try to answer the questions and give more details to the picture. John, you are right, it's not a Mother Nature, it's the breeder that we picked our pup from at 8 weeks.
Originally Posted By: ZeusGSD

1. What is this dog's background? Did you rescue her? Is she from a breeder? If so, what's her pedigree like?

---she was purchased from a breeder at 8 weeks old. She's American showline. I can send you her pedigree and the breeder's name by PM if you like. The pup was shaking when we picked her up and the breeder said that's because she just gave this pup a bath and that she'd adjust to us later. I got a dog for a particular purpose and was promised that the pup was good for everything I wanted (sar, obedience, tracking, and a companion). Now, obviously, I adjusted my expectations.

2. How did she "sneak out" of a fenced in yard? If this yard is secure, and the gate was left open by your husband while gardening then that is an issue. She was set up to fail.

--- The gate probably wasn't latched properly. Yes, that's my husband's fault but Yana was pretty good staying on the front lawn or driveway without escaping and she was coming when called inside. She won't bolt out of open door and always waits for a permission to go out. She is never unsupervised in the yard.

3. Give us a snapshot of what a normal week in her life is right now. How much training/socializing does she get in a given week? How much of that does your husband participate in? If he is not working with her, why does he feel she should come to him amidst distraction?

--- Yana gets two leashed walks and some off-leash running and fetching ball in the park daily, she is always enrolled in some kind of class once a week (we just finished beginning comp Obedience and this week she's starting in agility), 2-3 times a week I get together with my friends with dogs for some socializing and walking with dogs on trails or in city parks. Petsmart weekly. When it gets warmer I'll be taking her swimming. I don't mention her exercising in the backyard because I don't keep track of it.

Also I do obedience sessions with her daily including recalls. I used to take her with me to the busy city park during lunch hours and she would retrieve her stick from the river or heel off-leash with all the distractions. The time when she didn't come back was when she was off-leash (after tracking on hay fields) and two dogs approached her and she turned around and ran to my car without responding to me. It was a while ago.

My husband does not participate in training. He walks her few times a week for which I'm very grateful for that especially now that the pup is also time consuming.
 

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John, you know that you can take two great dogs and get a pup that has a nerve problem. I don't see the breeder inside a female arranging genes for each pup. Yes the breeder is responsible for putting the sire and dam together, but after that they no control over how the genes match up. Good imprinting is important also and that the breeder has a lot to do with.

Weak nerved dogs are so very interesting to live with, they test your skill as a trainer to adapt to what they need. They test your heart and resolve, because it is far easier to get rid of a dog than to work and make that pup/dog the best that it can be.
 

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O.K.,

So you're working your butt off with her, and she is a bit weak nerved. This does not make sense. A fearful dog that was actively seeking out things that illicited a fear resonse from the dog and then hackeling and barking at them? These behaviors contradict themselves.

How well does your husband read dog body language? Have you spoken to anyone else that was a witness to this event?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wisc.Tiger, yes, my husband doesn't love her very much, unfortunately, but he likes her. Now Yana is a nice dog to live with in a house, she starts coming out of her shell and shows more affection to me, and she loves my husband.

If not me he would let her go long time ago. Yes, it's not really easy to live with a dog with weak nerves especially that we were not prepared for it. We adjusted our expectations and that's why I got a second pup for doing what I initially wanted to do with Yana. My husband trusted me and trusted Yana because she started changing but yesterdays episode freaked him out and he's afraid she can bite somebody next time.


Originally Posted By: Wisc.TigerI really get upset with people who only want to kick these poor dogs to the curb. Monther nature wasn't kind to them matching up drives and nerves and then humans don't want to work with the problem.

--- Well, if I didn't want to work with the problem then I don't know who would and maybe in that case I just have to admit I failed and let somebody else with more skills to do it. If it makes Yana happier I would go for it. I do love this dog and I do want her to have a good life she deserves.
 

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GSD07, weak nerved dogs that are worked with learn to rely on their handler. Also I have found that in times of stress my weak nerved gal is more comfortable when I put a leash on her. It is like an umbillical cord, the dog knows that the handler is in control and much more relaxed and able to handle stressful things.
 

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It is hard to say if Yana would bit or not. Dogs have two responses to threat or perceived threat and it is fight or flight. She might have been putting on a BIG show of what she felt was Bravado.... but in reality she was scared. She wanted to explore but at the same time she was scared that someone would approach her, so she put on the barking and running up to people barking.

So unless I or someone really qualified could watch her, just over the internet it is hard to say how much pressure it takes for her to bite. My DeeDee's first response is to run, but I am sure if pressed hard enough or backed into a corner at some point she would bite. I really can see her just shutting down first and curling up in a ball.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Originally Posted By: ZeusGSD
A fearful dog that was actively seeking out things that illicited a fear resonse from the dog and then hackeling and barking at them? These behaviors contradict themselves.

--- This puzzles me too. She never seeks attention from people because she's uncomfortable with them. I need ask around if somebody else saw what happened because I don't think my husband can read dog body language very well. He said it was a scary even and everybody she barked at were very frightened and that she acted very agressively.
 

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GSD07, I would venture to guess that she was over stimulated by the freedom, but it scared her at the same time, so she was acting like a wild child.

Getting over stimulated is one sign of weak nerves, they just don't have enough nerve to be able to process things in a normal fashion.
 

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Originally Posted By: Wisc.TigerJohn, you know that you can take two great dogs and get a pup that has a nerve problem.
Very true, but a good breeder will know that a pup is weak nerved early on and not try to pass that dog off as a SAR candidate!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Patti, thank you for your supportive post! I worked on Yana socializing and training in different locations but I guess I need to take a step back and start over if it's going to help her. Also the situation wasn't new to her because we go to that park a lot to do obedience and retrieving. The only new thing was that she was completely on her own. I think that Wisc. Tiger is right and Yana didn't know what to do with the freedom and the scared people around. I wish she would just respond to my husband calling her.

LandosMom, my husband is afraid that she is like an agressive time bomb that comes off when the least expected. If she would just ran off and wouldn't come back when called then he would be irritated but not so upset. He and I just want to understand what is going on with Yana and if it's possible for us, not professional trainers, to deal with it.

Wisc.Tiger, yes, Yana feels safer on leash with me. I can take her to a fair with tons of people and she'll be fine in a crowd if nobody pays attention to her. I started going to Petsmart where I put her in sit/stay or down/stay (she's on a leash) and she won't break it and if she's unsure she wants my eyes contact and she's fine. Also I always believed her reaction is flight that's why I don't know why she approached the people with barking. Is it possible she felt that the park belongs to her and that's why she had to scare them off even though she was afraid? Can the recent spaying have something to do with her change of attitude?

I am trying to keep the balance of my family and I don't want my husband to live in a fear of a law suit either. I love him more than the dogs (sorry GSD people
) but the dogs are a part of our family and I love them too, and I have to decide how to proceed...
 

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Originally Posted By: Wisc.TigerWell that could be a whole thread all on it's own....... Bet the breeder thought they were producing the best all rounds GSD's....
Isn't that the truth. I don't buy puppies, but I buy a lot of dogs. One thing I've learned about breeders and vendors; treat them like used car salesmen. Doesn't mean they are all crooked, but there are some that don't know what straight dealing means.

DFrost
 

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How recently was she spayed??

I believe that the Spaying and the change in hormones does affect dogs and I also believe the weak nerved more sensitive females have more problems. When I had DeeDee spayed I thought for about 8 weeks that we might have to have her PTS. The first few days I thought it was just a reaction to the anesthesia, but after two days I knew something else was wrong. She just couldn't handle any thing that was normal here at home and she would get so locked in her fear place I couldn't reach her.

Val
 

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Discussion Starter #20
She was spayed less than a months ago. She took it very badly, was very depressed for almost three weeks. Now she's finally returned to normal (or that what I thought).
 
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