German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I would like to clarify my dog will be getting a one on one trainer soon, I'm just looking for some advice and opinions.

I have a small german shepherd mix, around 22"-24" height 55-65 pounds (haven't weighted her in several months.) I'm 5' 6" and her shoulder is knee level for comparison.

She is 10 1/2 months old, and a wonderful companion. However she has some issues and baggage.

My dog is fearful (as stated by a professional trainer), however she takes it out very verbally and aggressively.

Background -

Mom was found as a street dog and later taken to my local shelter (from California to Oregon.) She was given to a foster and was soon discovered she was pregnant.

Given to another foster where she gave birth to 10 puppies. I suspect that due to the foster having both dogs and young children of her own that the puppies were not given enough social. As when I received her at 8 weeks old not one puppy out of 10 would approach the kennel door or was even interested (we saw them several times) and Olivia (mine) would constantly shake during holding sessions.

It's hard to explain in text but it was what an under socialized dog would do, she was not cold. I would like to comment that I have lots of respect for the foster, however I suspect it was a rush placement and she was not able to properly socialize 10 puppies at one time.

The puppies were in separate cages (three different groups) at 7 1/2 weeks old (I don't know when they were separated officially) from mom. They were all spayed and neutered at 7 1/2 weeks old.

When we took my dog home she was still fearful and would be even at 2 1/2 months old very fearful. We had visitors over at this time and we had to crate her because she would not stop barking and harassing them. This is not normal behavior for a puppy, I am aware. It was not yips, but full on barking.

It didn't help much that we didn't have many visitors over, and I tried very hard to get her into puppy play dates, however no one ever showed up. I took her to the petstore several times to help her get over some fear, it helped her be quiet however not social. We had one lady (who worked there) try to say hi and my dog just ran behind me and yipped.

However she did jump in one ladies lap while she was restocking betta fish. She ran off shortly after, without time to let the lady pet her. Note my dog was tiny at the time and the lady liked puppies, it was accidental that she jumped on her lap, but turned out fine.

However as she grew older things just worsened. Anyone who approaches me and her, she goes crazy. However on hikes we can walk an inch away from someone and she could care less, even tries to sniff them, however when they say hi, she goes crazy.

We have only two people we have successfully introduced to her (no one else has tried). However it takes an hour of her off and on barking at the person and then by the end she's fine with them. Like licks and can't be close enough to them, and once she likes them they are in her "pack" forever.

I suspect she could love people and other dogs it's just that fearful and under socialzation that has stopped her from it. As when we pass people or dogs on the street she pulls and pulls (friendly) however if she gets close it's like a flip is switched and she forgets she wanted to meet them and gets defensive.

Women are easier then men to introduce and calm dogs are easier.

For example when she met my grandma's small mellow dog she barked once or twice and then was fine with them, like could be left in a room alone just fine. However when meeting my grandma's 95 pound pure GSD who's extremely hyper with no boundaries she barked like crazy and growled. She was 4-5 months old at this time.

She's good with dogs that have boundaries and are calm, but she still won't play with them.

She's been in two professional positive puppy classes, and originally put with two hyper dogs to play with, she just ran away and barked. Then with the whole class, where she did not do any better. Obviously she was showing the other dogs she was not interested and they didn't listen and she did lunge and growl when cornered or harassed.

Then put with a very sweet and mellow lab who she was let off leash with. I think given a few more sessions they would have been good friends, however 15 minutes was not enough. As well as intro should have been on leash before off leash with my dog. She barked and raced up to the other dog and barked/growled, the other dog did perfect mine did not.

She does great with dogs that run up to her when she doesn't have time to think. We had a doberman run up to her in class and she sniffed him just fine, as well as a Labrador who got off leash.


My issue is how can I up her confidence and get her more social. I usually put her on leash and do my best to manage her when she meets people it's just such a hard and tiring process. She has that deep german shepherd bark and it rings in your ears. I worry that it won't get easier.

What would you do in my case? Aside from the trainer part, as she's for sure getting that.

Do you think she could get better over time? I just feel very overwhelmed, as I was not expecting a fearful dog. I signed up for a german shepherd, but am having a hard time dealing with the fearful aggressiveness. I wouldn't give her up for the world but some advice is appreciated...

Thanks,

Alyssa
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
513 Posts
I think...that this could be genetic. Especially if she was already fearful at 8 weeks. Did you meet the mom? If so, how did she act when you approached?
If I had walked in and none of the pups approached me, I would have left. I would like to see a puppy that is curious - willing to check someone/thing out.

I'm not a breeder, so I'm not quite sure how much socialization from birth-8 weeks is needed or what the foster provided. I'd imagine seeing/interacting with just mom, foster owner, and their immediate family would be sufficient enough.

I am concerned that a rescue would keep the pups away from the mother, but maybe that is a normal protocol.

I think with a trainer, you could learn some things to mitigate this issue of fearfulness, but I don't think the issue will be "fixed." She's still young, so I may be wrong.

Best of luck to you and Miss Olivia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,134 Posts
Katsu, I've seen many shelters do this separation when mom is feral (or nearly feral) and is teaching the pups to be afraid of people. However, the purpose of the separation is supposed to be to improve human socialiability for the pups...which looks like it was seriously flubbed here. Good puppy fosters are SO hard to find -- and once you have a good one, they have to be zealously protected from contamination. I literally had ONE that I trusted with this kind of puppy--and another rescue that is new and over-eager accidentally sent her a litter of parvo pups and contaminated her place because they didn't have good protocols in place (vetting before fostering)...so I lost her. So I'm turning down puppies because I don't have a qualified foster with the time and experience right now. Other rescues stick them "where ever" and end up with messes like this -- most of the litter then will bounce around many, many adoption homes after getting returned over and over after a mistake like this. It's a mistake that will have a very long tail if they're not actively engaged in supporting adopters with rehabilitation.

I don't think anyone can say for sure that it's genetic if mom taught the pups to be fearful, and they weren't handled much by people or exposed to anything beyond crates in a foster home with too much going on. However....the result is still going to be a long haul of rehab no matter what the source.

It most likely *IS* fixable. I've done it and seen it done way too many times to ever give up on this kind of dog. But it's a lot of time, tears, and worry until you make a breakthrough -- you'll feel like you're failing the dog, have set backs, and beat yourself up about not being good enough or knowing enough until one day the dog just has a magic moment and turns the corner.

I just got a message from an adopter who took on a "project dog" -- an adult who at first was so afraid of people that she would not allow herself to be pet, and shook while being touched if she couldn't get away. She just wanted to run. Her foster did great work getting her somewhat more tolerant, but her adopter really did the hard work of turning a shy, timid dog into a velcro dog. She reported that it was three months for the dog to really tolerate being pet, six months before she'd lay calmly next to her people, and now that's it's been two years, she's a happy velcro dog who hogs the human's bed and won't leave them alone!

So...you're going to have to be patient. EVERYTHING you do with this dog is going to be about building confidence. You have to always know where its panic threshold is, and never force it beyond it--and keep moving the line, but give the dog a reason to trust you, always. I recommend buying a copy of the short booklet Patricia McConnell wrote: The Cautious Canine. It's a how-to guide (step by step) that will give you a good rehabilitation plan -- the author is a very respected behaviorist who's written several wonderful books.

I've fostered many, many shy, fearful dogs who've been through heck. All but one of them came out of the darkness into the light, and became much more confident, trusting, and happy. My current foster was shot apparently with a gun at close range, and he's very, very afraid of people. The one thing I've learned over the years with these dogs is it takes as long as it takes. They set the time line.

Access to stable, confident, gentle, nurturing dogs is also a HUGE help with these dogs. They learn "how to be a dog" more easily than from each other (and puppies/young dogs are all about mimicry). My pack of dogs has been critical to my fostering success -- they demonstrate trust and show the new ones what's okay (my female will go from a foster crate to me and give me a kiss, then go back to make sure the foster is watching, then come and face nuzzle me and lean on me, looking back with soft eyes at the foster crate...and the foster dogs somehow relax watching this with curiosity. I don't know how she knew to do this, as its all her idea. She also throws all sorts of calming signals to them to settle them down. She has incredibly calming, non-threatening energy that allows her to access dogs that no other dogs can reach--exposure to a dog like that is pure gold when doing rehab).
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I think...that this could be genetic. Especially if she was already fearful at 8 weeks. Did you meet the mom? If so, how did she act when you approached?
If I had walked in and none of the pups approached me, I would have left. I would like to see a puppy that is curious - willing to check someone/thing out.

I'm not a breeder, so I'm not quite sure how much socialization from birth-8 weeks is needed or what the foster provided. I'd imagine seeing/interacting with just mom, foster owner, and their immediate family would be sufficient enough.

I am concerned that a rescue would keep the pups away from the mother, but maybe that is a normal protocol.

I think with a trainer, you could learn some things to mitigate this issue of fearfulness, but I don't think the issue will be "fixed." She's still young, so I may be wrong.

Best of luck to you and Miss Olivia.

Hello,

As for being genetic it has been suggested a great many times, even without the background information provided. I suspect it was a mix up between genetics, the foster time, and myself. By the time she got to me she was very fearful, but I did try.

I do wish I had that kind of thinking walking it, I was pretty set on getting a puppy as this was my first. We just looked over it, but knowing what I know now I would not have picked one. I love my girl, but I am not eager to repeat this process again.

If in the case of the puppies interacting with the close family and she still remained fearful I'm inclined to say it is for genetic then. I suspect the other puppies were problems as well as a large handful of them were returned to the shelter after adoption. Which is when I started noticing my own acting this way, thankfully she's not a big dog so people don't worry much.

I don't know what normal protocol was, but I myself have heard how important it is to have the puppies with mom at least until their 8 weeks old minimum. When we saw them at 7 1/2 weeks old they said they had just separated them in the last few days. Which makes me guess they were taken away at 7 weeks old.

Thanks for the help,
Alyssa
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Katsu, I've seen many shelters do this separation when mom is feral (or nearly feral) and is teaching the pups to be afraid of people. However, the purpose of the separation is supposed to be to improve human socialiability for the pups...which looks like it was seriously flubbed here. Good puppy fosters are SO hard to find -- and once you have a good one, they have to be zealously protected from contamination. I literally had ONE that I trusted with this kind of puppy--and another rescue that is new and over-eager accidentally sent her a litter of parvo pups and contaminated her place because they didn't have good protocols in place (vetting before fostering)...so I lost her. So I'm turning down puppies because I don't have a qualified foster with the time and experience right now. Other rescues stick them "where ever" and end up with messes like this -- most of the litter then will bounce around many, many adoption homes after getting returned over and over after a mistake like this. It's a mistake that will have a very long tail if they're not actively engaged in supporting adopters with rehabilitation.

I don't think anyone can say for sure that it's genetic if mom taught the pups to be fearful, and they weren't handled much by people or exposed to anything beyond crates in a foster home with too much going on. However....the result is still going to be a long haul of rehab no matter what the source.

It most likely *IS* fixable. I've done it and seen it done way too many times to ever give up on this kind of dog. But it's a lot of time, tears, and worry until you make a breakthrough -- you'll feel like you're failing the dog, have set backs, and beat yourself up about not being good enough or knowing enough until one day the dog just has a magic moment and turns the corner.

I just got a message from an adopter who took on a "project dog" -- an adult who at first was so afraid of people that she would not allow herself to be pet, and shook while being touched if she couldn't get away. She just wanted to run. Her foster did great work getting her somewhat more tolerant, but her adopter really did the hard work of turning a shy, timid dog into a velcro dog. She reported that it was three months for the dog to really tolerate being pet, six months before she'd lay calmly next to her people, and now that's it's been two years, she's a happy velcro dog who hogs the human's bed and won't leave them alone!

So...you're going to have to be patient. EVERYTHING you do with this dog is going to be about building confidence. You have to always know where its panic threshold is, and never force it beyond it--and keep moving the line, but give the dog a reason to trust you, always. I recommend buying a copy of the short booklet Patricia McConnell wrote: The Cautious Canine. It's a how-to guide (step by step) that will give you a good rehabilitation plan -- the author is a very respected behaviorist who's written several wonderful books.

I've fostered many, many shy, fearful dogs who've been through heck. All but one of them came out of the darkness into the light, and became much more confident, trusting, and happy. My current foster was shot apparently with a gun at close range, and he's very, very afraid of people. The one thing I've learned over the years with these dogs is it takes as long as it takes. They set the time line.

Access to stable, confident, gentle, nurturing dogs is also a HUGE help with these dogs. They learn "how to be a dog" more easily than from each other (and puppies/young dogs are all about mimicry). My pack of dogs has been critical to my fostering success -- they demonstrate trust and show the new ones what's okay (my female will go from a foster crate to me and give me a kiss, then go back to make sure the foster is watching, then come and face nuzzle me and lean on me, looking back with soft eyes at the foster crate...and the foster dogs somehow relax watching this with curiosity. I don't know how she knew to do this, as its all her idea. She also throws all sorts of calming signals to them to settle them down. She has incredibly calming, non-threatening energy that allows her to access dogs that no other dogs can reach--exposure to a dog like that is pure gold when doing rehab).

Hello,

I have no clue how mom interacted with the puppies around as we only saw them separated. Mom herself was not overly friendly, but did let us say hello and give her a pet. We have no clue who dad was, so he likely could have passed on some genes that weren't desired.

While we have adopted many animals (mostly cats) from this shelter, I don't think they deal with many puppies as the protocol didn't seem right to me. There are never puppies there. The shelter did no socializing that I am aware of, no other dogs or people outside of the care takers.

When we got her she had some very serious issues with being in a crate, she would do it however she would go full panic mode. Which for a puppy who was raised and crated the first portion of her life I would think she would do just fine. I think she might just associate it with being taken away from her mom, sibling, and the shelter. Even to this day I've never seen her freak out like she does when being put in her crate, it caused way to much stress so we stopped crating her in the first week we had her.

The foster she had (we talked via facebook) seemed caring but from what I gather she was already overwhelmed and was not intending to foster puppies to start with. So I do think it was a situation where they were given to whomever could take them. The shelter doesn't do much fostering (I've only heard of two different dogs who were) so I don't think they have many they use.

I'm glad to hear it is a flexible situation, I do push her as much as I can (before her threshold) and she has gotten a lot better with passing people. When I first started walking her she would bark at people even if they were 50 feet away, now we can pass through our local park as long as no one approaches us. I've had a few people comment on her (she has a smile she used a lot) and she's been doing really good with people talking now. I'm really really glad to hear this, thank you.

I will invest in a copy of the recommended book :)

The trainer I have in mind does have dogs she used for training, so perhaps I can convince her to use her dogs. I don't know any stable dogs aside from my grandma's smaller dog, which I would have to go to her house with the high energy gsd. Maybe I will see if she can bring her dog over separately, as I think that will be good. My dad also has a very mellow and friendly yorkie so perhaps she would be good as well.

Thanks so much for the help. This has given me a bit of hope as this is my first dog (our other one is a older male who a couch potato) so while I'm trying to get to be a stable adult the fearfulness has definely set us back a lot.

Thanks,
Alyssa
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
813 Posts
I’m willing to bet it’s genetic (I have one) which cannot be fixed fully but you can certainly help.


First thing is STOP forcing the dog to interact with the “scary” things!! This was the best thing I did with my genetically fearful dog. I have met gsd puppies who were 10+ weeks old that received zero socialization and were not afraid of people or other dogs. You need to stay a safe distance away from people and dogs and reward the puppy for being calm and not fearful. Forcing the dog to interact will only make things worse.

I have a puppy right now with strong genetics and the comparison between him and kona is insane.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,818 Posts
My Shelby is also a shelter German shepherd mix. I got her as an 8 week old puppy. She also has fear issues. I noticed it early on. I agree wholeheartedly with Konathegsd. Your intentions are excellent, but I think you have been pushing too hard. Your girl does not need to meet every person, every dog, or visit the pet store. It sounds like she is getting better at ignoring people on walks. That is huge. Ultimately, that is what you want. Her focus should be on you. From early on, Shelby did not like traffic. She never liked her head touched. On walks, I was shocked at how few people knew how to properly greet a dog. Strangers were doing more harm than good. I started crossing the street to avoid them.

As for the crate, I believe you said there were 3 puppies per crate? Sorry, if I misread that. If so, your girl had a hard time in your crate, because she was alone. She was in a strange place, without her littermates. Change is hard.

Do you have any idea what your dog is mixed with? I often wonder if some of Shelby's issues come from the 'other' breeds. Sometimes I think there is a conflict between the GSD genes and the others. The German Shepherd in her wants to guard and protect her territory. She will put up a fuss, but then back down, because as much as she wants to, she can't. She's afraid. In truth, she doesn't have an aggressive bone in her body. But, shhhhh, don't tell anybody. She still looks scary. lol!

Just to add - Shelby lives in a bubble. It's not a bad thing. Shelby loves her house, her yard, and the car. She loves Boh, my male hound mix. Boh is a hot mess, but he is Shelby's security blanket. Boh is the ONLY dog who is allowed to sniff Shelby's butt. Shelby will only greet other dogs, if Boh greets them first. But, she is still suspicious and the other dogs must not sniff her. Shelby hates walks, because she always thinks people are following her and she keeps looking over her shoulder. Shelby happily greets people who come to her house. She is happy and content, as long as she is in her safe space.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top