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Hi!

I know someone just posted a thread similar but it brought up a few questions I had that weren't answered in that.

So I have a GSD (duh) mix who is very fearful and hasn't been aggressive yet but I want to know if it's something that could happen with her temperament and behavior. And how I should proceed in your opinions.

She defensive towards people, which as I understand is normal of the german shepherd so this isn't my main concern. She will bark and growl, but as soon as someone tries to pet her she hides behind me or gives a large space between her and them if she is off-leash. I never let strangers pet her willingly because she doesn't like it, so far everyone just awes and leaves her alone. She is only off leash during interaction time at puppy class or at our home. She has so far been fine meeting people as long as they let her do her barking/growling thing, and she eventually accepts them into the pack. Where they get hand and face kisses and a toy brought over to them, it's a bit of an initiation.

However in public we can be in the pet store and as long as no one touches her or gets more then 5 feet close (to interact they can stand inches away as long as they don't acknowledge her) she is behaved and fine. She also is fine on walks with other dogs and hasn't been weird about it. On her leash she does fine meeting dogs, but the playing is concerning off-leash. I have never taken her to the dog park and only to a supervised puppy class. If in the future the trainer says she has the social skills for a dog park I would love to take her, but definitely not at this point.

At our class she did give a low growl at the trainer (who's super nice) the first time we went but they just gave her room and a barrier (almost all the puppies had them) so she wouldn't feel nervous with the people super close or the dog over. However after a few classes she has been fine and the trainer can actually work a heel with her with no growling or barking.

Class is purely positive reinforcement.

So now onto the part i'm a bit concerned about.

During puppy class we have social time, where each dog get to be off leash for playtime and recalled about three times. So works for both the social as well as the recall which is nice. Since it's a distracting envioremnt to work a recall with. Olivia has returned as soon as she hears me call her, she would do great off-leash with this progress. However she has been extremely defensive towards the dogs that get near her.

Here are the class reactions that she has given so far.


Class One -

No puppy playtime, just obedience.


Class Two -

Group of one large (lab?) and medium sized dog. One very submissive playing the other a bit more dominate (but friendly).

Both approached but Olivia gave a growl and ran and tried to literally climb up me resulting in a lot of scratches and bruises on my part. The trainer stated that she is looking for reassurance and to walk away and not acknowledge this behavior. However if she does something good plays/sniffs the other dogs and comes to say hello to me to pet and say good girl. I walked away the entire social time with Olivia climbing me and being at my heels.


Class Three -

Group of all the dogs except one (dog aggressive mini Australian Shepherd.) 7+ dogs most bigger then Olivia.
She did growl and bark as previously but this time turned to snarling to tell the dogs to back off. She never made contact but gave them all a clear message she was not interested. Trainer says it was the others are young and aren't getting the hint. Again tried to climb me the entire class with same results but slightly less jumping but still resulted in the same scratches and bruises. She did sniff a smaller dog that did a "fly by" which the trainer thought was huge progress.

Class Four (recent)

All dogs again except the one. Again I walked away and disengaged with Olivia. I should state that I am the only one would does this because my dog is the only one who is this fearful. The trainer also states that when I am to close (staying still) and dogs come near Olivia feels she must protect me and gets more defensive. So this is why I am to walk away and disengage.

Olivia increased to lunging and snarling and barked a lot during this. At one point the trainer referred to her as "mama" because she wouldn't stop telling the others off. She again never made contact but was clear she did not want dogs near her. She only lunged more at one younger dog who wanted to play and wasn't getting the hint. Trainer says my dog could be less defensive however the other dog was pursuing and wasn't taking the hint so it was both parties. She jumped more on me again this time and engaged with the aggressive dog (who is behind a fence). She barked and growled at the dog because I was to close to the situation (my fault) but never pushed the fence just barked to tell her to stay away from me.

She did approach the other dogs and wanted to play getting half way to the others but as soon as they approached she barked and backed off. All the dogs seem aware that Olivia isn't the funnest so only the brave ones seek her out and leave. She did sniff more dogs this time again. Trainer was happy with her progress.


We tried very hard to socialize her when she was younger but no play groups were ever open. So she didn't get socialized as much as I would have liked, but I tried very hard to socialize her. She has always been fearful from the day we got her (shaking and whimpering) so it isn't a surprise. She however was raised with 9 other siblings and has a playmate who I fear she learned the snarling and lunging from, he isn't aggressive just doesn't like dogs (except Olivia) in his space.

She does fine with smaller dogs and dogs that are laid back and give her space.

She has never made contact or bitten a dog.

Does she by this description seem like during playgroup she will get better or should I be worried? I feel it's getting worse but the trainer thinks the opposite. I do have anxiety but do my best to not show this during class, I understand that my dog likely feeds off of my energy.

The trainer owns a german shepherd so is familiar with the temperament and personality of them, so I do trust her. I just wanted some experienced opinions on this. She has told me that Olivia will be fine around others dogs when I asked her if she will get better, and seems confident in this. She is the trainer I am not, so I will let her do what she wishes with my dog.

We also discussed why Olivia meets dogs on leash better then off-leash. Which we both agreed is a bit abnormal as we are always told to release a dog off the leash should another approach to not cause conflict. My dog is the opposite. Trainer says that she feels safer with me and knows that a leash acts as tether to the other dog. So should she not wish to say hi the dog cant reach her if she backs off. Unlike off-leash where both parties have no tether to restrict contact.

She has met with my grandma's purebred german shepherd (95 pounds) whom she barked at but eventually got used to, as well as my grandma's smaller dog who is very laid back and both got along great.

I understand this was a bit of a rant just curious how to pursue this situation.

-Alyssa
 

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It does not sound like she's getting any better - also sounds like the "free for all" puppy class might not be the right class for you and your puppy. I would work on building her confidence. She defintely seems fearful, But may just be genetics? unfortunately
 

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I agree, get out of this puppy class.

i'll give you an example of how it could go that is positive. My pup despite being almost or the biggest pup in the class was a bit intimidated by the group of puppies. In our class she would start with only two and then add one maybe one more by size, so littles played with littles and bigs played with bigs. Except my pup went with the littles because he was intimidated by one puppy in particular. This was actually not a big pup but man he was full of it so he played with the big pups.

My puppy wanted to play with this TINY golden retriever who was the youngest in the class I think, and also this teeny mop small breed. And he was gentle enough to do so.

The trainer and I both clearly saw that putting him in with the big rough and tumble puppies would have scared him and been counter productive. So it wasn't an option. He just watched from the sidelines and after a few classes he started acting like he would like to try. So we let him, and he played with the more mellow bigger puppies but that one still intimidated him. So when that puppy went for him I just veered it off to go pounce on another pup. I did in nonchalantly, so my pup didn't get scared and feel like he had to run away.

By the last class my boy had come completely out of his shell and rumbled with that really feisty pup.

I think the whole experience was good for him, but it could have gone another way if they had all been allowed to just jump on him day 1 when he was still intimidated. Also puppy play was a very small part of the class and all the puppies were never loose at the same time, the trainer hand picked who would play with who so it was good for everyone.

He is an adult now and he's great with other dogs.

My opinion is that when puppies are intimidated enough to want to run to you or hide behind you or climb you, you do need to do something. Preferably, you do something proactively so your pup never gets this upset and has confidence in you to bring them into situations that are okay.
 

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OP said "Both approached but Olivia gave a growl and ran and tried to literally climb up me resulting in a lot of scratches and bruises on my part. The trainer stated that she is looking for reassurance and to walk away and not acknowledge this behavior. However if she does something good plays/sniffs the other dogs and comes to say hello to me to pet and say good girl. I walked away the entire social time with Olivia climbing me and being at my heels."

My response to this in the moment would be to block the other puppies away from my puppy. The pup went to you for help. If you send the other puppies away and allow yours to use you as a shield, she is likely to decide to come out from her safe spot and try something new after a time. If you ignore her and leave her to her fate she just continues to try and flee which she did in this class. You don't coddle the pup and you don't need to speak to or touch your pup, just send the other pups away so yours has a chance to recover and feel safe.

The class you are in is not probably a good place to practice any better skills though.
 

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"Olivia increased to lunging and snarling and barked a lot during this. At one point the trainer referred to her as "mama" because she wouldn't stop telling the others off. She again never made contact but was clear she did not want dogs near her. She only lunged more at one younger dog who wanted to play and wasn't getting the hint. Trainer says my dog could be less defensive however the other dog was pursuing and wasn't taking the hint so it was both parties. She jumped more on me again this time and engaged with the aggressive dog (who is behind a fence). She barked and growled at the dog because I was to close to the situation (my fault) but never pushed the fence just barked to tell her to stay away from me."

I really doubt so much that your pup's behavior is anything other than fear. She is not protecting you, I doubt she is resource guarding you.

If a dog isn't taking a hint in puppy class then it is the job of the people to step in and make the dog take a hint. Especially if clueless is pursuing a fearful dog!
 

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many things , and yet the answers remain the same.

do you know what your dog is . You, the trainer, attribute her behaviour
to being GSD --- the dog is a mix "I have a GSD (duh) mix" . She may or may
not have any GSD at all .

Here is why this needs a re-think -- you, Olivia's owner , said
"She defensive towards people, which as I understand is normal of the german shepherd so this isn't my main concern"

First of all it is NOT normal nor desirable for a GSD to be "defensive" towards neutral strangers -- and it most certainly SHOULD BE your main concern.

You have a DOG who is very fearful, who like the subject dog of that other thread is over whelmed with soicial pressure and chooses to retreat , chooses flight and avoidance.

she hasn't bitten . Yet . One day though although she is squeezing in behind you , and the person within her 5 foot zone of feeling safe , may react in an exaggerated way when she growls , and that person will jump back .
That "decoy" drawing out action may plant a new thought into her head. It is productive to be aggressive because the problem goes away. Now you have a defensive fight mode .

the dog appears to have some entrenched temperamental and nerve issues.

she does not need to see other dogs. Not while taking walks , not in a puppy party chaos aka class and not at a dog park.

the dog is not even comfortable in the "puppy class" as she desparately tries to be with you , scatching you up pretty good .

I would leave the class . You see that the dog is getting worse. The trainer gives bad interpretations and advice which amplifies the dog's anxiety.

she does not need dog to dog socialization (of this kind)

sje dpes need a trusting bond with you, Your role is like a captain of a ship going through rough waters . This, with her temperament is life to her -- a perpetual potential crisis.

You are always going to be in a high maintenance position with this dog .

What is the focus of your dog like . Is she wary and watchful , looking over her shoulder , ears moving like bat ears trying to pick up any sound. Is she hyper , frantic, distracted . How is she with sound , car back fire , slamming door , storms --

there is a book which I would recommend --- Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out https://shop.clickertraining.com/products/fired-up-frantic-and-freaked-out-laura-vanarendonk-baugh

you need to calm the dog . Slow down . Not force being social . Understand but do not enable by coddling .

start with a game plan of getting quiet attention in the home.
then start by going somewhere that is not chaotci , fairly boring as far as action -- do your quiet focusd attention - gam -- back in the car
in fact you can stop and get that attention without the dog ever leaving the car -- mini micro steps .

the reason for moving locations is that you don't want the "training" to have a place context . You want the behaviour any time and every where .

The response loop will gow -- the dog will trust you. At some point if you do things right when the dog is distressed the dogs default form of avoidance will be to super focus on you .

I think , that when your dog was so distressed in the puppy class and the trainer asked you to walk away -- abandoning your dog , causing it to be frantic , trying to communicate with you - that matters were made worse .
the dog needs to know that it can trust you .

Using the captain and stormy seas again -- this was the captain throwing his crew and passengers over the side into the water ---

also look in to the dog's diet --- it is not going to change basic temperament and it won't change deficits in proper early socialization -- but anything that helps the brain calm , such as the DHA and EPAportion of fish oils omega 3 content, possibly a CBD oil, an adaptogen such as ashwaghanda --- no chemical ridden , high carbohydrate , unnatural dyes or flavours .

Good clean protein. Essential fatty acids. Probiotics for the mind/gut connection.

A distressed dog will have an altered microbiome , which can lead to leaky gut and allergies .
 

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Class Two -

Both (dogs) approached but Olivia gave a growl and ran and tried to literally climb up me resulting in a lot of scratches and bruises on my part. The trainer stated that she is looking for reassurance and to walk away and not acknowledge this behavior.
I agree with the advice you've been given. Your trainer with good intentions is helping to reinforce the fear by telling you to walk away. You're job is being a shield for your fearful dog.

This is where dog parks have their only good use that I've experienced. To illustrate: I adopted a two year old GSD that is/was dog fear aggressive. I take her to the dog park and sit outside the fence, so the fence can be my shield while I work with her. We've been doing this for six months--no going inside (and we never will, but dog parks are a whole separate conversation). We started at a good distance, on leash, and now we can walk the perimeter off leash if the parking lot is free of humans/pets, and she 90% doesn't bother with dogs who come near the fence unless their body language is domineering/aggressive. I calmly and quietly put her right back on leash if a car pulls in or someone decides to leave, and I distract her by running through tricks. Chilling outside the dog park is the only way and place where she earns cheese and that's a motivator and a half for this particular dog. She walks better on a leash now--I don't have to use a cage type muzzle anymore. I still use a nylon mesh muzzle on walks during busy pedestrian times of day so I can give her training treats more easily for good reactions. If she starts responding to *anything*, a twitch, a misstep, a change in speed, I put her on the side of me away from the trigger and keep walking without acknowledging her. It's become a pattern she recognizes and she calms much sooner than when I got her (she used to buck and freak out, and that absolutely sucked with a 100lb dog).

But to repeat myself, this is now sixth months later and we're not at "plays with strange dogs."

Your dog is experiencing too much immersion way too soon. When that puppy needs you, be there. Who else can she look to for reassurance if not you? Calmly interrupt the interaction and give her a safe space to process. If your dog begins to understand that you're not letting anything scary come near without her being ready, she will learn to trust you, and that is what you ultimately want. I would also suggest that you ditch the class and the trainer and find a dog behavioral therapist who comes on recommendation from the vet or other pet owners who have worked with the therapist and have had good results. This is not a 'puppy class once a week' problem. Also be prepared to accept that this dog may never be the type of social you're after with or without intervention.
 

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Her behavior with strangers is not normal for a German Shepherd. She's showing fear aggression and avoidance. Are you the person who asked for trainer references in the Baltimore area? If so, please contact Karen at PUPS.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It does not sound like she's getting any better - also sounds like the "free for all" puppy class might not be the right class for you and your puppy. I would work on building her confidence. She defintely seems fearful, But may just be genetics? unfortunately
This is what I'm worried about. The trainer seems confident that she's getting better and she has great reviews and knows what she's doing. Everything she's done for Olivia has been great until the social time, other then that she's on point with how to help Olivia.

The entire class is leashed except for the social time, but I worry it's way to much in terms of dogs for her. It's very high energy and a lot of dogs rushing her to play. I think she would do better personally with a smaller group of one or two dogs, but the trainer insists on having a large group.

She is a rescue so while as far as I know mom (the german shepherd) was fine I don't know anything about her father. But she has always been fearful from 2 months old onward, I constantly work without pushing her to be better socially. There has been slight progress with people which has been working well.

My fear with her being pushed to socialize in such a large group is that even with this slight progress who's to say next time she won't bite? The trainer doesn't think this will happen but it just seems she's getting more and more defensive every class towards the others.

Thanks,

Alyssa
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I agree, get out of this puppy class.

i'll give you an example of how it could go that is positive. My pup despite being almost or the biggest pup in the class was a bit intimidated by the group of puppies. In our class she would start with only two and then add one maybe one more by size, so littles played with littles and bigs played with bigs. Except my pup went with the littles because he was intimidated by one puppy in particular. This was actually not a big pup but man he was full of it so he played with the big pups.

My puppy wanted to play with this TINY golden retriever who was the youngest in the class I think, and also this teeny mop small breed. And he was gentle enough to do so.

The trainer and I both clearly saw that putting him in with the big rough and tumble puppies would have scared him and been counter productive. So it wasn't an option. He just watched from the sidelines and after a few classes he started acting like he would like to try. So we let him, and he played with the more mellow bigger puppies but that one still intimidated him. So when that puppy went for him I just veered it off to go pounce on another pup. I did in nonchalantly, so my pup didn't get scared and feel like he had to run away.

By the last class my boy had come completely out of his shell and rumbled with that really feisty pup.

I think the whole experience was good for him, but it could have gone another way if they had all been allowed to just jump on him day 1 when he was still intimidated. Also puppy play was a very small part of the class and all the puppies were never loose at the same time, the trainer hand picked who would play with who so it was good for everyone.

He is an adult now and he's great with other dogs.

My opinion is that when puppies are intimidated enough to want to run to you or hide behind you or climb you, you do need to do something. Preferably, you do something proactively so your pup never gets this upset and has confidence in you to bring them into situations that are okay.

Any dog bigger then her intimates her, any dog smaller she does fine with and will warm up to them. Big dogs take more time for her.

This is exactly what I think she needs just one or two smaller dogs and eventually working up to having more dogs. I wish this is how they chose to proceed because I really disagree with the trainer that this is good for Olivia, she just gets defensive and really stressed throughout the entire process. When we leave she bolts out of the door and can't get to the car fast enough and it's really heartbreaking to see her act like this.

I will bring this to the trainer and if she doesn't put us with a smaller group I may just have to made the decision that putting Olivia in this position isn't good at all. So we will sit on the side lines and she can sniff the dogs through a barrier. I really think that what you did with your dog would be best to do with Olivia from my observations. She has sniffed other dogs in the class on leash just fine, but off-leash is a totally different story.

Thanks,

Alyssa
 

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Discussion Starter #12
OP said "Both approached but Olivia gave a growl and ran and tried to literally climb up me resulting in a lot of scratches and bruises on my part. The trainer stated that she is looking for reassurance and to walk away and not acknowledge this behavior. However if she does something good plays/sniffs the other dogs and comes to say hello to me to pet and say good girl. I walked away the entire social time with Olivia climbing me and being at my heels."

My response to this in the moment would be to block the other puppies away from my puppy. The pup went to you for help. If you send the other puppies away and allow yours to use you as a shield, she is likely to decide to come out from her safe spot and try something new after a time. If you ignore her and leave her to her fate she just continues to try and flee which she did in this class. You don't coddle the pup and you don't need to speak to or touch your pup, just send the other pups away so yours has a chance to recover and feel safe.

The class you are in is not probably a good place to practice any better skills though.
The trainers do block the other puppies from time to time as do I. I completely agree I don't want her not to see me as a safe spot, but the class play time is so chaotic that I can't always help her and I get in trouble for interfering. This is what worries me the constant ignoring her might make her feel she has to bite to make a point and continue the defensive behavior.

I agree, the social skills she's having seems to be getting worse then they were previously, and I don't like what I'm seeing. The obedience and behavior other then that the class is amazing for and has done wonders for Olivia, but the puppy play time hasn't at all.

Thanks,

Alyssa
 

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"I agree, the social skills she's having seems to be getting worse then they were previously, and I don't like what I'm seeing. The obedience and behavior other then that the class is amazing for and has done wonders for Olivia, but the puppy play time hasn't at all."

Your entire thread was what I call gut feeling and It sounds like you are becoming tuned in to your pup. I'm going to sound wish washy but this is what the great bond between dog/owner begins with imo. Also, that free for all is a gracious reason for ending the classes as she just isn't well suited for it. if you need a reason. If the instructor disagrees but offers an alternative exercise for you and pup during the free time, don't be hesitant to decline, stick to your guns. You will find another that meets your need better.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
many things , and yet the answers remain the same.

do you know what your dog is . You, the trainer, attribute her behaviour
to being GSD --- the dog is a mix "I have a GSD (duh) mix" . She may or may
not have any GSD at all .

Here is why this needs a re-think -- you, Olivia's owner , said
"She defensive towards people, which as I understand is normal of the german shepherd so this isn't my main concern"

First of all it is NOT normal nor desirable for a GSD to be "defensive" towards neutral strangers -- and it most certainly SHOULD BE your main concern.

You have a DOG who is very fearful, who like the subject dog of that other thread is over whelmed with soicial pressure and chooses to retreat , chooses flight and avoidance.

she hasn't bitten . Yet . One day though although she is squeezing in behind you , and the person within her 5 foot zone of feeling safe , may react in an exaggerated way when she growls , and that person will jump back .
That "decoy" drawing out action may plant a new thought into her head. It is productive to be aggressive because the problem goes away. Now you have a defensive fight mode .

the dog appears to have some entrenched temperamental and nerve issues.

she does not need to see other dogs. Not while taking walks , not in a puppy party chaos aka class and not at a dog park.

the dog is not even comfortable in the "puppy class" as she desparately tries to be with you , scatching you up pretty good .

I would leave the class . You see that the dog is getting worse. The trainer gives bad interpretations and advice which amplifies the dog's anxiety.

she does not need dog to dog socialization (of this kind)

sje dpes need a trusting bond with you, Your role is like a captain of a ship going through rough waters . This, with her temperament is life to her -- a perpetual potential crisis.

You are always going to be in a high maintenance position with this dog .

What is the focus of your dog like . Is she wary and watchful , looking over her shoulder , ears moving like bat ears trying to pick up any sound. Is she hyper , frantic, distracted . How is she with sound , car back fire , slamming door , storms --

there is a book which I would recommend --- Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out https://shop.clickertraining.com/products/fired-up-frantic-and-freaked-out-laura-vanarendonk-baugh

you need to calm the dog . Slow down . Not force being social . Understand but do not enable by coddling .

start with a game plan of getting quiet attention in the home.
then start by going somewhere that is not chaotci , fairly boring as far as action -- do your quiet focusd attention - gam -- back in the car
in fact you can stop and get that attention without the dog ever leaving the car -- mini micro steps .

the reason for moving locations is that you don't want the "training" to have a place context . You want the behaviour any time and every where .

The response loop will gow -- the dog will trust you. At some point if you do things right when the dog is distressed the dogs default form of avoidance will be to super focus on you .

I think , that when your dog was so distressed in the puppy class and the trainer asked you to walk away -- abandoning your dog , causing it to be frantic , trying to communicate with you - that matters were made worse .
the dog needs to know that it can trust you .

Using the captain and stormy seas again -- this was the captain throwing his crew and passengers over the side into the water ---

also look in to the dog's diet --- it is not going to change basic temperament and it won't change deficits in proper early socialization -- but anything that helps the brain calm , such as the DHA and EPAportion of fish oils omega 3 content, possibly a CBD oil, an adaptogen such as ashwaghanda --- no chemical ridden , high carbohydrate , unnatural dyes or flavours .

Good clean protein. Essential fatty acids. Probiotics for the mind/gut connection.

A distressed dog will have an altered microbiome , which can lead to leaky gut and allergies .

She is german shepherd mix for sure, here is her mother. Father was a stray and was likely a lab, but not sure on dad until we get the DNA test. Mom was likely a mix, but mostly german shepherd.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BgPc9C7B5LE/?hl=en&taken-by=olivia.the.gsd

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/28432883198/in/dateposted/

I apologize I didn't mean it was "normal" just more common for a german shepherd then a Labrador to display caution to strangers. If someone doesn't pay attention to her she is perfectly fine, she will jump on people if I let her to say hi. As she did with a kneeling lady stocking fish at Petco one day, she jumped on her and licked her (I apologized).

So she only gets weird when someone pets her or pursues her she doesn't know.

She does not meet dogs on our walks, but see's them. If we are at Petco and a dog rounds the corner they will sniff and each go on there way. No problems there, just puppy class off-leash. The other dog we walked past a very aggressive small breed dog and she just wanted to say hi but wasn't fearful or defensive. I'm good about seeing the difference between when she wants to say hi or not and that was a I want to say hello.

In terms of noises she could care less. The neighbors slamming their door? Could care less. Thunder storm? Might as well run in it and play, could care less about the sound. The only time she gets like this is during puppy socialization. Even around strangers she again doesn't care until they start to pet or say hello.

During puppy class she just gets very frantic looking for a way out or wants me to pick her up and get her out. That's the best way to describe it, not distracted because I can recall her just fine.

We do work on this, we can sit at the park with little kids running around and we can do sits and downs all day. She does trust me, and I can get her attention in almost any situation except for the off-leash puppy playing. We will continue working on this game however.

I agree, walking away as seemed to be more counter productive then productive.

Well she certainly does have allergies, she has an allergy to grass. We feed her 3 cups a day of Orijen Large Breed Puppy with a knuckle bone thrown in once or twice a week. She also gets eggs and pumpkin in her food every so often.


Thanks,

Alyssa
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I agree with the advice you've been given. Your trainer with good intentions is helping to reinforce the fear by telling you to walk away. You're job is being a shield for your fearful dog.

This is where dog parks have their only good use that I've experienced. To illustrate: I adopted a two year old GSD that is/was dog fear aggressive. I take her to the dog park and sit outside the fence, so the fence can be my shield while I work with her. We've been doing this for six months--no going inside (and we never will, but dog parks are a whole separate conversation). We started at a good distance, on leash, and now we can walk the perimeter off leash if the parking lot is free of humans/pets, and she 90% doesn't bother with dogs who come near the fence unless their body language is domineering/aggressive. I calmly and quietly put her right back on leash if a car pulls in or someone decides to leave, and I distract her by running through tricks. Chilling outside the dog park is the only way and place where she earns cheese and that's a motivator and a half for this particular dog. She walks better on a leash now--I don't have to use a cage type muzzle anymore. I still use a nylon mesh muzzle on walks during busy pedestrian times of day so I can give her training treats more easily for good reactions. If she starts responding to *anything*, a twitch, a misstep, a change in speed, I put her on the side of me away from the trigger and keep walking without acknowledging her. It's become a pattern she recognizes and she calms much sooner than when I got her (she used to buck and freak out, and that absolutely sucked with a 100lb dog).

But to repeat myself, this is now sixth months later and we're not at "plays with strange dogs."

Your dog is experiencing too much immersion way too soon. When that puppy needs you, be there. Who else can she look to for reassurance if not you? Calmly interrupt the interaction and give her a safe space to process. If your dog begins to understand that you're not letting anything scary come near without her being ready, she will learn to trust you, and that is what you ultimately want. I would also suggest that you ditch the class and the trainer and find a dog behavioral therapist who comes on recommendation from the vet or other pet owners who have worked with the therapist and have had good results. This is not a 'puppy class once a week' problem. Also be prepared to accept that this dog may never be the type of social you're after with or without intervention.
When we walk I use the same procedure. Person? Dog? Cat? She goes straight to my side opposite the distraction or she gets put into a heel position depending on the distraction. She does very well with this.

I will look into this, I don't know how many behaviorist we have have.

Thanks,

Alyssa
 

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stressed the entire time and then bolting out the door when it's over just does not sound productive to me.

You trying to help your pup and "getting in trouble" for it is conflict your pup will probably pick up on.

If I were you, I would not go back. An on leash only adult obedience class would probably be better. Pup continues to be exposed to controlled dogs who don't all rush up on her.

Did you say you know of a small dog she is comfortable with? I am not sure how old she is, still?

You said somewhere the pup is ok on leash and even ok with people who ignore her. That's what I would be doing...just focus on taking her out for short trips where she continues to be exposed to sights and sounds but no approaching or touching by people or dogs. Just give the poor thing a chance to chill out and feel comfortable for a bit.

This sounds like all you are doing is reinforcing her belief that other dogs are scary.
 

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Alyssa also buy Grisha Stewart's BAT book. Your dog doesn't sound that bad if you just get some tools and put her in the right situations.

My dog might have also become frantic if I had thrown him into a class like what you are describing when he was a baby and he has grown up to be quite well adjusted.
 

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Nope wrong person, were in the Oregon area :)
I am also in the Oregon area. Beaverton/Portland to be exact. Would be curious to hear the training facility this is taking place at if you wouldn't mind pm-ing?

To me, having a "chaotic playgroup" at the end of a training session just sounds like too many steps backwards for your girl. Even if this trainer comes highly recommended, it is clear that she's not picking up on how anxious it's making Olivia. If it were me, I'd trust your gut and walk away. Just a polite "I don't think this is working out" or "this situation isn't the best for Olivia at this time" - trust me, your trainer sounds like they have plenty of business, should be no hurt feelings. At the end of the day, the stress you're picking up on from your girl needs to be listened to. She doesn't have to socialize with dogs, doesn't have to be dog friendly with the larger ones. Best you can hope for would be dog neutral and totally focused and engaged with you - that's what most GSDs are going to crave anyway: one-on-one time with their person! I'd be looking for a different trainer. Depending on where you are in the oregon area, I have a few that I would highly, highly recommend in this case.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
stressed the entire time and then bolting out the door when it's over just does not sound productive to me.

You trying to help your pup and "getting in trouble" for it is conflict your pup will probably pick up on.

If I were you, I would not go back. An on leash only adult obedience class would probably be better. Pup continues to be exposed to controlled dogs who don't all rush up on her.

Did you say you know of a small dog she is comfortable with? I am not sure how old she is, still?

You said somewhere the pup is ok on leash and even ok with people who ignore her. That's what I would be doing...just focus on taking her out for short trips where she continues to be exposed to sights and sounds but no approaching or touching by people or dogs. Just give the poor thing a chance to chill out and feel comfortable for a bit.

This sounds like all you are doing is reinforcing her belief that other dogs are scary.
She's 7 months old at the moment. She's fine with my grandma's little dog, short and stocky however very laid back. She also does fine with my grandma's pure german shepherd who's 95 pounds, but took a little longer to get used to him.

I may just put her in an adult class, that way there's no high energy or crazy puppies who have no manners. I think part of why Olivia gets so defensive is because not a single dog there sees her initial body language. So she's having to basically correct them because none of them know boundaries. Olivia's older brother has very clear boundaries so she has the piece where the other puppies don't.

I will continue to do this, just letting her be exposed. It's what I've been doing since we got her and it goes very well and she's comfortable. It's just that puppy class social time she isn't. I think I may just discontinue the puppy playtime, I haven't felt right about it pretty much from the start. I do wish I had asked this at the start of class, would have saved me a lot of trouble.

Thanks,

Alyssa
 
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