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Hi,
I have a 1 year old black GSD that we adopted St. Patty's day. He is a lover, but very leery of strangers. when my husband first met him at the shelter, he started barking like crazy. the tech that was working with "Wolf" said he appears to have problems with men, but very quickly accepts. and he did. Wolf has come a long way with his adjustment to our home. He is very attached to me. when I come home, he starts crying and is nutty. he is excited when my husband comes home, but not like with me. He is training well and adjusting. There is one issue I am not sure how to fix and am looking for suggestions. My parents stopped by yesterday and he started barking and scared them. It took a long time before he settled down and accepted them. the one thing I know about his past is the man was not very nice. I would like him to accept my friends and family without incident. I have no problem with him protecting, but I think he is barking out of fear. I could be wrong. He has not bit anyone. Even when we go for walks, he barks at anyone that comes in our path.
thanks for listening,
Linda
 

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Linda,

Check out the aggression section right below this one. There are multiple recent threads discusing in depth how to manage this issue. Bottom line is you need him to look to you when meeting new people.
 

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Hi Linda,

We also have a shy adopted Wolf. I am a real dog novice and I found the Yahoo group shyK9s to be very informative. They have wonderful and very specific files about counter-conditioning to strangers that really works.

John's reference to the aggression section will also help you.

I'd love to hear how Wolf settles in.

Mary Jane
 

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The other thing I have to add is that having adopted one of my own (last November) is that you are pretty early in your relationship.
A month isn't a lot of time for him to settle in and feel more
secure. You absolutely can go ahead and investigate ways to
handle this, but time will also help, loving and routine does also.

Sierra is very comfortable now, but it was a bit of a rocky
start for us, I'd say for about 2 months. And taking her to
obedience classes helped, too.

Wishing you the best.
 

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This is not a fix all but it might help, tell your company when they come in to ignor the dog and dont make any lasting eye contact with him. let him decide if he wants to close the gap and maybe get petted. When we first got sarge he was a mess. My wife picked him up and when I came home and walked in he just layed over and peed himself. (I knew right then it was going to be a long road ahead). I ignored him even though I heard a little growl. I keep my didsance and walked around him and didnt even look at him.

He got used to me being there after a few days. Then I started watching tv at night sitting on the floor in front of the couch. A few nights of that and he finally came over to me. I put my hand out slowly with the palm up. He smelled my hand a bit then I scrathed him lightly under his chin. He then went back to his hiding place in the corner.

The next night while im sitting on the floor he comes back, this time i got to pet and talk to him. He layed down next to me and I sat there the rest of the night petting and talking to him.

The point is, you cant press the dog, the more people pay attention to him by making eye contact and trying to pet him the more scared he becomes. Dont let any company try to pet him on the head. Have them if its going well to just hold the hand lower then his nose with the plam up and let him sniff the hand.

When a dog is not sure of someone they dont like a hand being someplace they cant see. Ever notice when you pet a dog he watches your hand as it goes over his head. If a dog is afraid thats a great way to get bit.

Your just going to have to have patience with him. Bye the way, sarge is now the velcro dog. I cant go anyplace without him!!! lol
 

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Originally Posted By: butch33611 let him decide if he wants to close the gap and maybe get petted.
I do not like this idea. The dog should be on leash if there is any fear aggression when others come to visit. YOU make the decision on the level of interaction he has with others.
 

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Originally Posted By: ZeusGSD
Originally Posted By: butch33611 let him decide if he wants to close the gap and maybe get petted.
I do not like this idea. The dog should be on leash if there is any fear aggression when others come to visit. YOU make the decision on the level of interaction he has with others.
I agree with Butch, once it has been determined that a new dog will not be physically agressive and this has been demonstrated within the family unit. I still would not be having lots of people over before I knew what behaviours would make a new dog uncomfortable. This is what I got from Butch's post about Sarge.

I had some friends (now deceased) who had a very undersocialised shy dog and one that may even have bitten out of fear. When I visited, I ignored the dog (very much as per Butch's advice) and let her approach me. She always came around and ended up sitting at my feet for petting. The owners actually caused their dog anxiety and if she had been attached to a leash that dog probably would have bitten as their insecurity would have caused that dog more fear.

I do not advocate Butch's advice for a severely aggressive dog but neither did Butch. The dog in question appears to exhibit the same traits as the dog I mention and also Sarge.
 

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I also think this dog needs direction from you to make it clear to him that it is not ok to bark at new people coming into the house. I agree with leashing him. I would also have him sit or platz far enough away from the stranger so he is not feeling so threatened. Also give him the quiet command so that you are also making it an obedience exercise and he has something to concentrate on other than the scary person. I would correct him for barking/breaking the command. Of course lots of reward, praise and treats for any acceptable behavior.

Sorry but if the dog is fear aggressive it is not worth the liability to have him unleashed. JHMO.
 

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Originally Posted By: QynI had some friends (now deceased) who had a very undersocialised shy dog and one that may even have bitten out of fear. When I visited, I ignored the dog (very much as per Butch's advice) and let her approach me. She always came around and ended up sitting at my feet for petting. The owners actually caused their dog anxiety and if she had been attached to a leash that dog probably would have bitten as their insecurity would have caused that dog more fear.
In the case you mention above there was no hope for this dog overcoming her fear, which was the owners fault not the dogs. Letting the dog control the interaction and "working it out on her own" is never the answer. Being a calm assertive leader around her and showing her how to interact with visitors while you are in control (on leash) while rewarding calm behavior from the dog with calm praise and treats as well as ignoring any fear response is how this is overcome. Leaving the dog off leash normally increases the stress because they have to be the one to make decisions. For a fearful dog decisions = stress.
 

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I had a shep x who had been badly abused. He never did warn up to strangers. It took him a long time to even trust us. Whenever someone came to the door, he went nuts barking. We adopted him at about 6months old, and he just recently passed over. Until the day he died, if he barked at the door, his leash went on and he was kept firmly at me side. Some people, he just didn't like, and I wasn't going to take the risk of his biting someone. As long as he was on the leash, he kept calm. If I had let him off, who knows what may have happened. Loved the dog enough not to risk him biting.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I want to thank everyone for the advise given. I am going to get some training professionaly to get him more socialized and also work on the commnad of sit and stay (with leash at first) when someone comes over and praise him for sitting a staying while someone comes in ignoring him. I have someone who will come over and work with me on that.
thanks again. I will post the results of his training.
 

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All the above advice is great. The only thing I wanted to say is that everyone who adopts a fearful dog from a shelter assumes that the pup was badly abused and that's why he/she is afraid of strangers and barks at the door. It's not always the case and the dog can just have weak nerves.

We have a dog since 8 weeks. We've been socializing her with people and dogs from day one, we love her, take to obedience classes, she gets plenty of excercise but she still is fearful of strangers and new situations and sometimes her fear just paralizes her. I'm sure if she were in the shelter everyone would say that the owners abused her and kept in the cage in the darkest corner of the garage.

In this case the only thing you can do is to keep the dog in control and be very proactive with the situations your dog is going to face.
 

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Quote:The dog should be on leash if there is any fear aggression when others come to visit. YOU make the decision on the level of interaction he has with others.
This is an important point that requires additional clarification, IMO.

Fearful dogs need to build confidence, establish trust, reduce internal stress & possibly develop coping strategies. Owners must take this into account when deciding on the level of interaction their anxious dog has with others. Pushing too hard & too fast will increase the dogs fears & further undermine trust.

GD07, you make an excellent point that not all temperament problems originate in past abuse. A friend who's active in rescue sees many problems that are actually due to poor breeding (bad nerves). Fearful dogs will often be more reactive with men than women. Men are generally taller, heavier & have deeper voices. To most frightened, nervous animals they're just scarier.

Men might also be less inclined to heavy nurturing, soothing, extensive petting. IMO, that's not necessarily bad with fearful dogs. Most cases of separation anxiety I've seen, the owners made it worse by cooing, pleading, apologizing & snuggling. Validating, even exacerbating, the dog's fears does it no favors.
 

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Quote: Leaving the dog off leash normally increases the stress because they have to be the one to make decisions.
I have mixed feelings about this. I totally agree from the perspective of control and liability a fear aggressive dog needs to be leashed for their own protection. However, I've known quite a few dogs who were considerably less anxious off leash than on. Dogs that are very freaked out by being trapped, dogs that have been punished by excessive leash corrections, both pretty common. I see the same thing when introducing dogs. I'd say more often than not, leashes increase anxiety not decrease it. They may still be a good idea for other reasons however.

When I got Grace she was very very similar to the OP's pup - she was 11 months old, she had a history of being abused by a man. She attached immediately to my son, attached quickly to me, then finally to my husband. She greeted us with borderline hysteria when we got home, showed separation anxiety, was scared of strangers and very upset and barky when people came to the house. She was much much better off leash than on.

Quote: a shelter assumes that the pup was badly abused and that's why he/she is afraid of strangers and barks at the door. It's not always the case and the dog can just have weak nerves
I've definitely seen this - everyone thinks their dog was abused. Actually IMO the most common cause of shyness and fearfulness is neither abuse nor weak nerves, it's simply lack of socialization. However, if the OP has info that her boy was badly treated by a man, like we did with Grace, then that may be the case. In Grace's case you could tell that someone had made a habit of grabbing her collar and hitting her in the head. In our experience, the key to her recovery was the discovery/encouragement of her ball drive. Over time she learned that flailing arms meant flying balls not hitting, she learned that strangers carried toys and played fetch, and she learned that nothing bad was going to happen on our watch. She was a complete basket case when we got her but IMO her nerves are genetically excellent, she'd just been given good reason to be afraid and was undersocialized.

She's 8 years old now, she's traveled all over the country with me, she's a great houseguest, and last summer spent the day with me working the Dog Paddle where she ran off leash with 800 other dogs and even more people over the course of a day without issue. So - they CAN get better. Sounds like this dog has a lot of potential and you guys are on track to help him realize it. Just don't decide "bad nerves" and stop pushing. The fact that he went from afraid of your husband to liking him shows that he has the potential to get okay with each new challenge given the safe space in which to do it.
 

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the route you take with a shy apprehensive dog is totally based on evaluation of that particular dog.

i have a friend who has an extremely shy female gsd. she will flee with tail between legs and try to get away from anyone that comes into the house, or she will hide behind her owner, etc. when i saw this behavior a few times i knew my friend was not aware of the fact she was actually making the situation worse by letting the dog hide behind her and or run away, this had been going on for a long time. my friend needed to take over and make decisions for the dog. i told her to put the dog on a leash when people came, and not give her the opportunity to flee and hide. make the dog sit beside her, not behind her, and give positive re-inforcement, food reward, etc. i told her when people come have them just hang out at a safe distance, have a calm conversation with them, etc, while the dog was sitting beside her. i don't believe in overwhelming a shy dog, but at the same time i think they need to face the music so to speak in a controlled fashion. its a long process with shy/fearful dogs, and it will probably always be present in some way. but, once the dog trusts that the owner has control of the situation they came somewhat relax.
just the leash work around strangers has taken this particular dog to the next level. she will now take food from strangers and be petted, and have eye contact, which is a huge step. still alot of work, but its such a rewarding experience to see the progression.

debbie
 

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http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/shy-k9s/ has a lot of good information.

Since you've only had him since March 17th, I wouldn't even take him out for walks, where he seems overwhelmed. I would try to find a place to walk him where we wouldn't see other people. I think the more time you take, the better your results.
 
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