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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi again. Another noobie question. You have no idea how much it helps me to read these responses, so thanks for being patient with my constant noobie questions.



So. My 3-year-old GSD I adopted about 2 months ago has developed some new discouraging behaviors and I wonder if it's because she realizes I'm soft and is manipulating me.



I am trying to be consistent and strict with the rules I am enforcing around the house and during walks: no pulling on leash, no jumping on furniture, etc. etc. I make her sit before we go on walks, before I let her out the door, before I let her back in (I guess that's called Nothing In Life Is Free?), she has to go into her crate before I feed her (which she actually started doing on her own--must have been trained that way). We do little training sessions several times a day and during walks where I have her sit, down, stay, etc. Her obedience seems generally really good.



When something scares her, she gets SO cowardly and pathetic and I feel the need to rush to comfort her; for instance, yesterday I was doing some kickboxing in the sunroom (watching a DVD on an old laptop), and she came in to check on me and tripped over the computer cord, I jumped forward to catch the computer before it fell, and after that she was PETRIFIED of the computer cord--would not come back into the sunroom until I put it away.



So anyway. The stuff that's worrying me now....she's stopped eating her breakfast because she wants me to put wet food on it. That doesn't worry me too much, because I'm not going to give in. She got spayed last Tuesday and I wanted her to eat after that so I was putting tiny little bits of wet food to entice her (like...TINY little bits, maybe 3-4 little wet food meat chunks). I've been trying to wean her off of that. So now she won't eat when I initially give her kibble, but then she'll stare at me for a bit, give up, and go eat maybe 1/2 of it. If she doesn't finish after 10-15 minutes, I take it away. I figure when she gets hungry enough she'll eat it.



But what REALLY bothers me now is what she does when I leave for work. She used to be totally fine when I'd leave her in her crate, no whining, no barking. I freeze a Kong with wet dog food and some treats, and she'd be all over that. But the last couple days, she goes willingly into her crate (I assume because she knows a yummy treat is coming), I leave the Kong, she starts eating, I close the door and putter around for a couple more minutes, but then when I actually head toward the door she barks. Like...LOUD, demanding, barks that actually scare the crap out of me with how loud and sudden they are. So I ignore it, leave anyway, and sometimes stand outside the door and listen to her bark for a few minutes.



I assume she stops eventually because when I get home after such escapades, the Kong is empty and she seems fine, like she's been sleeping. But...do you think she does this because she's trying to manipulate me into...something? Or because she's developing separation anxiety? The latter scares me to death because SA, if she develops it, is a deal-breaker for me--I won't be able to keep her if she has SA because I have a full-time job and she MUST be able to be alone for up to 8 hours per day.



What should I do? Keep doing this routine and hope she eventually gets used to it? Just so you know, yes, she is always walked just before this (and poops and pees) so I know she doesn't have to go to the bathroom. She is fed, she has had water (I don't leave water in the crate). She is still wearing the inflatable doggy donut to keep her from licking her spay stitches (which come out tomorrow), so maybe that's throwing her off? But she sleeps in her crate just fine at night, never whines at all...and it's in a different room from me.



Any insight would be appreciated. I know that I overthink everything and worry a lot about doing right by this dog, and maybe she's picking up on that. All of my friends are telling me I'm worrying unnecessarily but I can't help it. I just dread that I'm going to come home one day and she'll have broken her teeth trying to get out of the crate, or killed herself somehow in panic.



Am I a Type A, somewhat control-freaky, anxious person? YES....I already know that. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I also wonder if part of this is because she's still on very limited exercise because of the spay. She does get a 20-minute walk in the morning, but it's on-leash and pretty low-key. Usually in the afternoons, after work, I would take her on a 45-minute to an hour, part off-leash walk through the park where she can run and run and run and tire herself out. Obviously she can't do that for at least another week or so (will ask the vet when she gets her stitches taken out tomorrow)....
 

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Sounds to me like you are doing A LOT right! You definitely aren't a softie. In terms of her barking when you leave, walk out and don't look back. It will stop. If she senses she is getting your attention, she will continue it.

On a side note, because I kind of have a feeling you would love to check on her, I have a Blink camera on my crate that I can quickly view from my phone. Really cheap on Amazon (they own Blink).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Really? Thanks...that makes me feel better. I'll look into the Blink camera.

Also it's looking like she is fear-aggressive (with strangers, not with me), and she generally just seems to be afraid of a lot of stuff. We have a lot we need to work on, but it's part of why I'm constantly worried I'm not doing things right--there's so much contradictory information out there about everything from correction to counter-conditioning to desensitization. I wish my dog weren't so freaking anxious all the time--and my own anxious personality certainly isn't helping, though I'm working on it. I feel like I'm toeing a thin line between getting her to trust me by being calm and compassionate, and enforcing the rules (which if I do wrong or too forcefully, will send her cowering into her crate as if I've just beaten her).

Ugh. This is hard.
 

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Really? Thanks...that makes me feel better. I'll look into the Blink camera.

Also it's looking like she is fear-aggressive (with strangers, not with me), and she generally just seems to be afraid of a lot of stuff. We have a lot we need to work on, but it's part of why I'm constantly worried I'm not doing things right--there's so much contradictory information out there about everything from correction to counter-conditioning to desensitization. I wish my dog weren't so freaking anxious all the time--and my own anxious personality certainly isn't helping, though I'm working on it. I feel like I'm toeing a thin line between getting her to trust me by being calm and compassionate, and enforcing the rules (which if I do wrong or too forcefully, will send her cowering into her crate as if I've just beaten her).

Ugh. This is hard.
Absolutely, all the things you listed and are working on are things SO many people don't correct. You have the right attitude, you aren't afraid to say no and you know what needs to be fixed and wants to.

My last dog had fear aggression. Has she bit anyone? It was horrible for me, most of the time you could see it coming, but sometimes I was not quick enough. He would woof low, not bark, circle the person and then bite them in the a$$. Usually overweight strange men. Keep an eye on that. I wish I had a trainer help me with that.
 

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The only thing that stands out to me is that you’ve only had her for 2 months. Take a breath and relax. Just be consistent and fair. She’s trying to figure things out too.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My last dog had fear aggression. Has she bit anyone? It was horrible for me, most of the time you could see it coming, but sometimes I was not quick enough. He would woof low, not bark, circle the person and then bite them in the a$$. Usually overweight strange men. Keep an eye on that. I wish I had a trainer help me with that.
She hasn't bitten anyone yet. Here is what she does:

1. She barks and lunges at people *sometimes* during walks, and I'm trying to counter-condition with treats (I have her look at me before she reacts, click, and treat). She has done this before and after her spay. If the person has a well-behaved dog on a leash, she couldn't care less about the person. She loves dogs.

2. I've brought her to my office a couple of times and when someone comes in, she'll low growl until I tell her to quit or until I "introduce" her to the person. My tall male coworker walked in one morning like he owned the place---because he did---while she was lying beside me and she jumped to her feet barking and jumping like she was in full panic mode (hackles way up). I had her come back to me and lie down, and she calmed down but she stared at my coworker until he left (he had just come in to print something).

That same day, she had posted herself at the office door, keeping watch. A tall male coworker passed by and she growled at him, and he stopped and looked at her and talked to her, and she didn't run away but stood there, hackles up, growling at him. There was a baby gate between them. As soon as he walked away, she REALLY lunged at the baby gate as if she wanted to get at him. I yelled "No" and she came back to me. After that, I prohibited her from posting watch at the door and made her stay beside me.

This was 1 week after her spay.

3. One morning on a walk, a neighbor lady came up to us and put her hand out for Willow to sniff. She did, and didn't bite, but it was clear she didn't feel comfortable. The moment the lady turned to walk away, Willow jumped forward and snapped at her back (didn't touch her but her intentions were clear). I immediately corrected her, told her "No" and had her sit and look at me. That one was only 4 days after her spay.

So yeah. Probably fodder for another thread, and I have talked about this in another thread....and we've had 2 sessions with a trainer (before her spay). I had houseguests over for a weekend, 5 days after the spay, and she was mostly fine with them, though I could tell she was stressed when they were moving around the house. The initial introduction (outside on the lawn) was a little tense. She did the same snapping at their backs a time or two when they would get up to leave, but when they were sitting on the couch she was happy to let them pet her and give her treats. She does snap at my hands sometimes but usually when she's excited about something (I've never felt it's because she's being aggressive).
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
The only thing that stands out to me is that you’ve only had her for 2 months. Take a breath and relax. Just be consistent and fair. She’s trying to figure things out too.

Yeah...and part of this is me trying to nip bad behaviors in the bud, keep them from getting worse. But yeah, I've asked a lot from this dog--it hasn't been an easy transition.



I got her August 26...August 30th she went into heat for 3 weeks....2 weeks after her cycle ended, she got spayed. So nothing has been exactly "normal" since I got her. Certainly not how I would have liked to do things, but the timing of all of this has just sucked and it was outside of my control (I guess I could have waited longer to get her spayed). I'm trying really hard to keep to a routine, keep things calm, and she's generally really good at home, though the main issue now is I can tell she wants to do fun things like hiking and running again...and I just can't let her until she's healed. *frustration!!!!!!*
 

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I don't think she's manipulating you...
in my personal opinion/experience, I think dogs are more simple than that. They do what is rewarding for them.

For instance, my dog will lie down off to the side when I'm cooking. He learned that if he lies there and doesn't come nosing around my legs or the counter, I might drop him a little tidbit. But he'll never get a thing out of me if he's bugging me. In general, I try to reward the behavior I like, and then he will do more of the behavior I like. He is a simple guy...

For being afraid of stuff...I think just going out and about with you, helps a lot. My dog (adopted at 5) was a rather tense guy on leash, but through sheer exposure and time spent just going here and there, sniffing at this and that, watching this person go by and that person blow leaves, passing hundreds of dogs, etc, he's become one of the calmer dogs you will see out there. Yesterday I had to drop my daughter at the mall to meet friends, so I brought Rumo and we walked around in the outside mall area after dropoff. I got us a bottle of water and we sat there and both had a drink (he drank out of a paper hotdog tray). We sniffed around in the petshop at the next strip, bought 3 beef tracheas, drove home. Then he took a nap and I did some more work.

Computer cord reaction: Seems normal? Bad/scary makes a deep impression on my dog too! He got a static shock by the kitchen trashcan (being petted by husband) and he wouldn't go by the trashcan for about 3 days after that.

Food extortion: Well, wet food won't kill her :) But yes, I agree she is "holding out" to see if you have anything better. You can give in, or not give in...I add freshly cooked meat 'toppers" (few spoonful) to my dog's food frequently just because I like him to have stuff that tastes good. (I admit he's spoiled)

Barking at departure: She's getting attached to you...I think you're handling it well. Not giving in, is good!

I'm just a pet dog owner but I think you're doing well!
It does get easier!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Food extortion: Well, wet food won't kill her :) But yes, I agree she is "holding out" to see if you have anything better. You can give in, or not give in...I add freshly cooked meat 'toppers" (few spoonful) to my dog's food frequently just because I like him to have stuff that tastes good. (I admit he's spoiled)
....

I'm just a pet dog owner but I think you're doing well!
It does get easier!

Haha, yeah, I'm holding out for probably silly reasons: I love to hike and backpack and dry food is a lot easier--and lighter!--to have to carry around for 10+ miles per day! I put wet food in her Kong, so I'm also trying to separate those two things, keep the wet food to use as a higher-value treat. And also wet food is more expensive. :)



Thanks for the encouragement. I just hope she's not working herself into a frenzy in her crate. I have no reason to think she is, I just don't want that behavior to develop.
 

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She hasn't bitten anyone yet. Here is what she does:

1. She barks and lunges at people *sometimes* during walks, and I'm trying to counter-condition with treats (I have her look at me before she reacts, click, and treat). She has done this before and after her spay. If the person has a well-behaved dog on a leash, she couldn't care less about the person. She loves dogs.

2. I've brought her to my office a couple of times and when someone comes in, she'll low growl until I tell her to quit or until I "introduce" her to the person. My tall male coworker walked in one morning like he owned the place---because he did---while she was lying beside me and she jumped to her feet barking and jumping like she was in full panic mode (hackles way up). I had her come back to me and lie down, and she calmed down but she stared at my coworker until he left (he had just come in to print something).

That same day, she had posted herself at the office door, keeping watch. A tall male coworker passed by and she growled at him, and he stopped and looked at her and talked to her, and she didn't run away but stood there, hackles up, growling at him. There was a baby gate between them. As soon as he walked away, she REALLY lunged at the baby gate as if she wanted to get at him. I yelled "No" and she came back to me. After that, I prohibited her from posting watch at the door and made her stay beside me.

This was 1 week after her spay.

3. One morning on a walk, a neighbor lady came up to us and put her hand out for Willow to sniff. She did, and didn't bite, but it was clear she didn't feel comfortable. The moment the lady turned to walk away, Willow jumped forward and snapped at her back (didn't touch her but her intentions were clear). I immediately corrected her, told her "No" and had her sit and look at me. That one was only 4 days after her spay.

So yeah. Probably fodder for another thread, and I have talked about this in another thread....and we've had 2 sessions with a trainer (before her spay). I had houseguests over for a weekend, 5 days after the spay, and she was mostly fine with them, though I could tell she was stressed when they were moving around the house. The initial introduction (outside on the lawn) was a little tense. She did the same snapping at their backs a time or two when they would get up to leave, but when they were sitting on the couch she was happy to let them pet her and give her treats. She does snap at my hands sometimes but usually when she's excited about something (I've never felt it's because she's being aggressive).
You have a lot going on with her since you have had her. I have lots of questions, but since you said you had another thread on the fear aggression, I am sure all the answers are in there. I'll check it out at some point. The fear aggression examples you provided are a little concerning. You need to fix that as you know. It's no fun for her feeling like that and it will be no fun for you as an owner always being worried. I'm not sure socialization or getting her out around people (like your office) is the right thing at this point since she is two. This would have been very helpful when she was a puppy. She may not have had enough exposure as a pup or it just might be genetic. Duke never really hurt anyone with his a$$ bites, but it sucked having a dog you had to worry about biting the fedex guy, etc. That bite snap in the air after someone walks away is an indicator that she will probably bite someone passively at some point.
 

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You’re doing far too much far too fast. From your previous posts, it seems like you’re expecting far to much from her, and this post if more of the same.

Separation anxiety is generally way more than barking for a few minutes after you leave. If SA was happening, you’d know when you got home. Her crate wouldn’t be in the same place, she’d probably have sore paws and jaw from trying to get out of the crate.

Fear aggression doesn’t go away overnight either, and you’ve exposed her to a lot in a short time frame. You haven’t given her the chance to gain trust in you, and confidence in her environment, in you, and in herself. This could easily be causing the fear aggression. Roll back a lot on what you’re doing with her, and how fast you’re expecting her to be the perfect companion.
 

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Hi again. Another noobie question. You have no idea how much it helps me to read these responses, so thanks for being patient with my constant noobie questions.



So. My 3-year-old GSD I adopted about 2 months ago has developed some new discouraging behaviors and I wonder if it's because she realizes I'm soft and is manipulating me.



I am trying to be consistent and strict with the rules I am enforcing around the house and during walks: no pulling on leash, no jumping on furniture, etc. etc. I make her sit before we go on walks, before I let her out the door, before I let her back in (I guess that's called Nothing In Life Is Free?), she has to go into her crate before I feed her (which she actually started doing on her own--must have been trained that way). We do little training sessions several times a day and during walks where I have her sit, down, stay, etc. Her obedience seems generally really good.



When something scares her, she gets SO cowardly and pathetic and I feel the need to rush to comfort her; for instance, yesterday I was doing some kickboxing in the sunroom (watching a DVD on an old laptop), and she came in to check on me and tripped over the computer cord, I jumped forward to catch the computer before it fell, and after that she was PETRIFIED of the computer cord--would not come back into the sunroom until I put it away.



So anyway. The stuff that's worrying me now....she's stopped eating her breakfast because she wants me to put wet food on it. That doesn't worry me too much, because I'm not going to give in. She got spayed last Tuesday and I wanted her to eat after that so I was putting tiny little bits of wet food to entice her (like...TINY little bits, maybe 3-4 little wet food meat chunks). I've been trying to wean her off of that. So now she won't eat when I initially give her kibble, but then she'll stare at me for a bit, give up, and go eat maybe 1/2 of it. If she doesn't finish after 10-15 minutes, I take it away. I figure when she gets hungry enough she'll eat it.



But what REALLY bothers me now is what she does when I leave for work. She used to be totally fine when I'd leave her in her crate, no whining, no barking. I freeze a Kong with wet dog food and some treats, and she'd be all over that. But the last couple days, she goes willingly into her crate (I assume because she knows a yummy treat is coming), I leave the Kong, she starts eating, I close the door and putter around for a couple more minutes, but then when I actually head toward the door she barks. Like...LOUD, demanding, barks that actually scare the crap out of me with how loud and sudden they are. So I ignore it, leave anyway, and sometimes stand outside the door and listen to her bark for a few minutes.



I assume she stops eventually because when I get home after such escapades, the Kong is empty and she seems fine, like she's been sleeping. But...do you think she does this because she's trying to manipulate me into...something? Or because she's developing separation anxiety? The latter scares me to death because SA, if she develops it, is a deal-breaker for me--I won't be able to keep her if she has SA because I have a full-time job and she MUST be able to be alone for up to 8 hours per day.



What should I do? Keep doing this routine and hope she eventually gets used to it? Just so you know, yes, she is always walked just before this (and poops and pees) so I know she doesn't have to go to the bathroom. She is fed, she has had water (I don't leave water in the crate). She is still wearing the inflatable doggy donut to keep her from licking her spay stitches (which come out tomorrow), so maybe that's throwing her off? But she sleeps in her crate just fine at night, never whines at all...and it's in a different room from me.



Any insight would be appreciated. I know that I overthink everything and worry a lot about doing right by this dog, and maybe she's picking up on that. All of my friends are telling me I'm worrying unnecessarily but I can't help it. I just dread that I'm going to come home one day and she'll have broken her teeth trying to get out of the crate, or killed herself somehow in panic.



Am I a Type A, somewhat control-freaky, anxious person? YES....I already know that. :)
In two months, just eight short weeks, this dog has had a ton of crap tossed at her. People adopt adult dogs because they don't want to deal with puppies, and that's all good. However they still need time to adjust and learn. Keep in mind that dogs act largely by reading body language and expressions and based on past experience they anticipate and offer behaviors that have worked.
Her behaviors are shaped by previous experience, she does not have a past with you. She is scrambling to understand what you expect and act accordingly and you are moving full steam ahead which puts her in the position of constant anxiety because she isn't being given time to learn.
To add to that she was spayed recently and was trying to keep up while being sore and tired and generally feeling like garbage. Imagine starting a new job that you have no experience at and having major surgery a week later and being expected to be in the office the next day.
My house rules are always in play, from minute one of a new dogs life with me. EVERYTHING else can wait. I learn about them, they learn about me. For at least a month. At least, because some dogs need more time. We don't meet people, go places, train or do anything hard. They learn that my house is not a toilet, that food on plates is mine no matter where the plate is, that when I say move I don't mean wiggle your butt or roll over. They learn that fences mean stop whether you can jump them or not, that gates mean stop even when open, that garbage belongs to the garbage man and you cannot pee on anything that's mine including each other. They learn that I don't pet jumping dogs and I don't respond to barking dogs.
More importantly they learn that I will always provide food and comfort, that even when I leave I will come back and that I will never hurt them even if I am furious at the cable company or yelling and jumping around when the Bruins score. I don't alter my behavior and I don't expect them to get a PhD in a day.
SA is not something dogs are born with it's something they learn, and we teach them. Put her in her crate with a kong and a see ya and leave. Don't rush to let her out when you return. I walk in, put my crap away, change my clothes and then let the dog out. And we don't fuss and carry on, I open the crate and say hi then we head outside.
All those things we learn in the first few weeks or months? Those are the basis of everything that I need them to learn and everything that I teach them will stem from those early lessons.
Relax. Let her relax.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You’re doing far too much far too fast. From your previous posts, it seems like you’re expecting far to much from her, and this post if more of the same.

Separation anxiety is generally way more than barking for a few minutes after you leave. If SA was happening, you’d know when you got home. Her crate wouldn’t be in the same place, she’d probably have sore paws and jaw from trying to get out of the crate.

Fear aggression doesn’t go away overnight either, and you’ve exposed her to a lot in a short time frame. You haven’t given her the chance to gain trust in you, and confidence in her environment, in you, and in herself. This could easily be causing the fear aggression. Roll back a lot on what you’re doing with her, and how fast you’re expecting her to be the perfect companion.
Yah I didn't mean for this thread to go back to the fear aggression stuff--it was more me needing reassurance that she'd be OK in the crate even if she was barking. I know I have been expecting things to move more quickly and that I need to hold up and let things progress naturally (while maintaining my house rules). The stuff she does at the office sucks and on walks but I'm hoping it is all stuff that will get better with time and training.

Sometimes I have to take her to the office because I don't have a choice--since I can't have anyone come check on her (or she freaks out), if I'm going to be gone for more than 8-9 hours I don't want to leave her that long in her crate. I guess I'll have to leave her in the car, which she's generally OK with.

This is hard. I'm single with a full-time job (which happens to be a very stressful job, particularly for the next few months) and all this crap--the heat, the spay--was not how I wanted my relationship with her to start, and is complicating things a lot and causing me a lot of stress. I come here to get advice and reassurance. I don't get how this post was "expecting too much too fast"--I just wanted people with experience to let me know if that behavior (barking when I leave) was something to worry about.

For what it's worth, I got home at 4:20pm--she'd been in her crate for 8.5 hours after barking at me when I left--and she was fine, and had finished her Kong. So I guess I don't need to worry about this anymore. Also 8.5 hours is about the most I ever want to have to crate her without a break (I had to drive into the "big city" for a meeting today).
 

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Discussion Starter #15
She is scrambling to understand what you expect and act accordingly and you are moving full steam ahead which puts her in the position of constant anxiety because she isn't being given time to learn.
I guess I don't understand from this what I should be doing....you said later that house rules are in force from day one. So....I get that maybe I shouldn't bring her to the office or expect too much on our walks for a while, but what else am I doing wrong here?
 

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Yah I didn't mean for this thread to go back to the fear aggression stuff--it was more me needing reassurance that she'd be OK in the crate even if she was barking. I know I have been expecting things to move more quickly and that I need to hold up and let things progress naturally (while maintaining my house rules). The stuff she does at the office sucks and on walks but I'm hoping it is all stuff that will get better with time and training.



Sometimes I have to take her to the office because I don't have a choice--since I can't have anyone come check on her (or she freaks out), if I'm going to be gone for more than 8-9 hours I don't want to leave her that long in her crate. I guess I'll have to leave her in the car, which she's generally OK with.



This is hard. I'm single with a full-time job (which happens to be a very stressful job, particularly for the next few months) and all this crap--the heat, the spay--was not how I wanted my relationship with her to start, and is complicating things a lot and causing me a lot of stress. I come here to get advice and reassurance. I don't get how this post was "expecting too much too fast"--I just wanted people with experience to let me know if that behavior (barking when I leave) was something to worry about.



For what it's worth, I got home at 4:20pm--she'd been in her crate for 8.5 hours after barking at me when I left--and she was fine, and had finished her Kong. So I guess I don't need to worry about this anymore. Also 8.5 hours is about the most I ever want to have to crate her without a break (I had to drive into the "big city" for a meeting today).


Hang in there and take a deep breath. The bedside manner of a lot of contributors here sucks. Take it all in, looks past the edginess of the comments and reset. I’m sure no one has done everything right with their dogs even though they sound like it. You and your dog will be fine. I’ve seen worse. You are doing a lot right. You just need to slow down a bit if you can.
 

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You’re doing far too much far too fast. From your previous posts, it seems like you’re expecting far to much from her, and this post if more of the same.

Separation anxiety is generally way more than barking for a few minutes after you leave. If SA was happening, you’d know when you got home. Her crate wouldn’t be in the same place, she’d probably have sore paws and jaw from trying to get out of the crate.

Fear aggression doesn’t go away overnight either, and you’ve exposed her to a lot in a short time frame. You haven’t given her the chance to gain trust in you, and confidence in her environment, in you, and in herself. This could easily be causing the fear aggression. Roll back a lot on what you’re doing with her, and how fast you’re expecting her to be the perfect companion.
Yah I didn't mean for this thread to go back to the fear aggression stuff--it was more me needing reassurance that she'd be OK in the crate even if she was barking. I know I have been expecting things to move more quickly and that I need to hold up and let things progress naturally (while maintaining my house rules). The stuff she does at the office sucks and on walks but I'm hoping it is all stuff that will get better with time and training.

Sometimes I have to take her to the office because I don't have a choice--since I can't have anyone come check on her (or she freaks out), if I'm going to be gone for more than 8-9 hours I don't want to leave her that long in her crate. I guess I'll have to leave her in the car, which she's generally OK with.

This is hard. I'm single with a full-time job (which happens to be a very stressful job, particularly for the next few months) and all this crap--the heat, the spay--was not how I wanted my relationship with her to start, and is complicating things a lot and causing me a lot of stress. I come here to get advice and reassurance. I don't get how this post was "expecting too much too fast"--I just wanted people with experience to let me know if that behavior (barking when I leave) was something to worry about.

For what it's worth, I got home at 4:20pm--she'd been in her crate for 8.5 hours after barking at me when I left--and she was fine, and had finished her Kong. So I guess I don't need to worry about this anymore. Also 8.5 hours is about the most I ever want to have to crate her without a break (I had to drive into the "big city" for a meeting today).
If all you want an answer to is the SA, then you have your answer. She’s fine.

We bring up previous posts because it gives a larger picture on what you and/or her are dealing with. When I got my first fear aggressive GSD at 4, I came here for advice. I got the same advice you’re getting (and I’m giving) because it really was too much too fast that I was expecting from her. I didn’t like hearing it. I have tons of dog experience. But I wanted her to be the best she possibly could be, so I swallowed my pride and realized if I kept doing it the way I was doing it, she wasn’t going to get any better. Sure, I wanted to flip off half the people here, I wanted to cram my logic down their throats, but in the end, it was about the specific dog in front of me, that I obviously wasn’t connecting to for some reason. And that reason was too much, too fast.

I totally get not wanting to leave her crated for more than 8 hours. I felt awful when I was working 12-16hr shifts, and she had full house access, including access to a doggie door to go the bathroom, but it still ate at me. I cut my hours in half and worked from home as much as possible in the first 2-3 months. I gave her space to do her own thing, be her own dog, and got a one on one trainer for her fear aggression issues. She’s turned into my heart dog, and I’ll be devastated when it’s her time to go.

So I’m not trying to be hard on you, I just know from personal experience, sometimes you have to let go of “what you know” and do the right thing for the dog in front of you. And the outcome when you do that is amazing.

Hang in there, she will come around eventually, and your normal life will resume with her by your side, it just takes time and work.
 

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I guess I don't understand from this what I should be doing....you said later that house rules are in force from day one. So....I get that maybe I shouldn't bring her to the office or expect too much on our walks for a while, but what else am I doing wrong here?
Yet another type A control freak here, lol.

Yes leave her home, walks should be relaxed and for exercise but leave the strict obedience for later. Let her learn you, not everything else.
Don't worry about the whole waiting for you to go first and that stuff. Spend time hanging out, share treats and laugh. If you feel a real need to work on training use luring methods, treats and praise. Ignore the little stuff you don't like.
Think in terms of building trust and confidence, as far as possible avoid discipline or corrections for now. In order to build a strong house you must first build a strong foundation.
 

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Yea, on the growls and snaps...my dog did that for the first few months. Here are just a few memories:
- A teen boy petted him and as the boy walked away, he lunged and snapped at the boy's back
- A jogger passed us in the park. My dog suddenly lunged at her. She swerved and screamed, "Keep your f***** dog away from me!!"
- A man ran at us, we were crossing the street going opposite ways. My dog growled and snapped at him.
Those are just a few of the incidents that taught me to keep a wide radius around people. I would cross the street to avoid passing close to people, and did not let people pet him.

Now...more than 2 years later...we amble around in the strip mall with his nose inches from people's legs and he's quite the calm "dog about town". I'm not sure what happened, because I am certainly no expert dog trainer. We just kept going out and about every day, but somehow that "radius" shrank and the list of things that got a reaction out of him, kept shrinking too.

Even with an amateur dog owner like me, somehow he is better. A lot of it, I guess, was observing him and 'learning' him and learning from our experiences. It's a process, and not really a fast one...? I really do believe that a part of it was just...he felt safe and happy? A happy dog is not a mean stressed wary dog.
 

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Thanks all.

I had a breakdown about half hour after replying to your posts; had to call a friend in tears and just let it all out, cuz I've just been really stressed out by all of this (not like...your specific responses, just general stressiness over the last few weeks). And....the dang dog knew something was up and came right up to me and snuggled me until I felt better. She knows I don't like licking or being pawed at but she licked the tears off my cheeks and pawed at me and dammit if it didn't make me feel better.

I am reading and rereading all your posts carefully and will take all of this into account moving forward. I hope Willow will forgive my impatience! She really is a smart, beautiful dog and I'm totally smitten with her (most of the time), but yeah, this has been a hard process for me. Thanks for the replies.
 
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