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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
:crazy:I would like to first start off by saying thank you for taking a interest in helping with what I think is a problem. I have a 4 month old GSD, we have had her since she was 8wks old. Also in our home is a 7yr old Great Dane and 6yr old Chinese Pug. My GSD is very out going and hard to keep down when we are home, and does fine when we take her on walks. My concern is if anyone tries to approach us she hides behind me or between my legs. I carry her favorite treats with us to have strangers offer them to her when out, she will take them cautiously and run back behind me. When it comes to other dogs she seems to be fine, now the bigger the dog the more vocal she becomes ex: She thought she would try to take on a pitbull the other day while on our walk. It is people she is afraid of. Anyone new that comes in our home she hides under the table for awhile. She will not leave my side for anything! I feel bad for her because I know she has to become exhausted trying to follow me everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE! I am a stay at home wife so she is never alone. Is her fearfulness something she will out grow typically? If not is there special training to help her?
 

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How much socialisation have you done with her? My girls were timid in the beginning. We just kept working at socialisation and exposing them to new things. We took them to pick up the kids at school, Lowes, Petco, etc.. It all adds up and builds confidence.
 

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Thank you for a response ...She goes everywhere I go. We go to Petsmart alot, which she can't wait to get out of, we walk everyday weather permitting that is. If this is a normal characteristic for a gsd and she will grow out of it than I'm ok with it. I just have heard that a scared GSD can be a dangerous one. Not to her family of course but to strangers. Want to help her if I can.
 

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if anyone tries to approach us she hides behind me or between my legs. I carry her favorite treats with us to have strangers offer them to her when out, she will take them cautiously and run back behind me
You are nurturing a fearful state of mind in the dog. Get the dog more used to you and your friends who call to your house and when the dog is more comfortable with people she knows, then she may by more trusting of strangers she meets.

She thought she would try to take on a pitbull the other day while on our walk.
Try and snap her out of that. If she gets into a fight or is attacked by another dog she will not learn to socialize. She will develop more aggression which becomes harder to manage. Don't go releasing her into a dog park etc until she is used to meeting dogs and not reacting like this.

She will not leave my side for anything!
That's probably because you are nurturing her insecurities.

I feel bad for her
Dogs can read our emotions and energy very well so you should be careful what you project to your dog. Don't feel sorry for a dog as that will not help it. Her energy is affecting you. You feel bad for the dog. If you feel confident and optimistic the dog will feel this energy and may possible become more confident. There is a better chance for the dog to improve any ways if you are positive.

If not is there special training to help her?
For visitors, No touch, no talk, no eye contact is a good way for strangers to act until the dog trusts them. Now she considers the visitors to your home as a threat. If they act a different way she will start to be more relaxed in there presence and learn that they are no threat. When the dog is ready she will go to sniff at visitors. That is a good sign but if the person acts too soon, like say, trying to rub her head or neck, or speaking to the dog, or even making eye contact, then the dog will feel betrayed and retreat away from the person and so lose the initial glimmer of trust.

One good thing about the dog going under the table is when guests sit at the table the dog will get a good sniff at the people because they are so close but still she has the boundary or impression of safety under the table. If you keep the visitors attention and explain that the dog isn't used to people then the dog has more chance of relaxing rather than' Oh look at her, she's so scared.... hey little baby, don't be scared etc etc..' The dog doesn't understand that baby talk. So engage your guests and ignore the dog. Show the dog through acting normally with your friends that this is normal.

So many people will want to come see you new dog and each time they come and act the way they do, they reinforce the dogs fearfulness and shyness.

To me so many people don't understand these shy dogs. The can't understand why a dog isn't happy go lucky. They expect all dogs to be happy, excited, jumping around with tail wagging. And they think a fearful dog should be felt sorry for and that something terrible must have happened to it.

I will leave it at that for now. My dog was like your dog but more aggressive towards people and liked to chase them. As yours grows she may become more aggressive too but she doesn't sound so extreme. Mine is a bullmastiff mix and i regarded her as a very dangerous animal at times, especially around 9-10 months. Now at 2 and a half I feel she is a normal dog and doesn't bother anybody.

At the time i knew nothing about dog behavior/pack structure(I had other dogs and knew loads of dogs and they love me and i them, but i didn't really understand dog behavior and so couldn't really deal with this extreme case. You can be lucky or unlucky with the temperament of your pup). I simply had to learn or get rid of the dog as she was so bad. I learned something and she learned to accepted the world around her. I did put a lot of time and effort into this dog and with time she did change. Look out for heat cycles. I found my dog much more reactive and protective at these times, but after the heats i noticed an improvement. Some dogs do go through fear cycles so if nothing major happens the dog will naturally get better. It's hard to explain until the dogs stops being fearful / reactive. But you will see that day if you are dedicated and understanding.
 

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My two females are litter mates from a "backyard breeder". Tuke is very out going and relatively care free, Zoey WAS timid. We would spend an hour or so in one store allowing willing customers to give her treats. You can usually tell which customers to ask and which ones are looking to be left alone. After the first store, we'd move to the next for another hour, doing this several times a week. We saw a steady improvement with her and today at 2+ years old she does well with strangers.

Here is a thread with some useful links. http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/general-behavior/271282-shy-dogs-fearful-dogs-links-resources.html
 
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