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I introduced myself yesterday, my reason for coming to the experts is that I have become frustrated with some of my girl's behaviors. I've reached the point after almost 3 years of a classic 'fraidy-dog, cautious-always-on-red alert' GSD where I'm seeking the advise of a behaviorist.


I got Lili on 1/2/08, from an Air Force family stationed nearby. She was 2 years old on 1/1/08. I got the call from an all breed rescue that I had done some fostering with previously. I had just lost my 13 year old female Malinois to hemagiosarcoma
She has a bit of ‘history.’

The story was, he had won her in a card game from another serviceman. He brought her home and his wife said, “She goes.” She was not housebroken and with 2 children under 3 years of age and another dog, she was looking for another home. Lili was very sweet and willing to go with me. I drove home and when I got her out of the car she pulled back and slipped her collar. She took off for the street. I got in my car and followed her. She avoided me but ran across the street again and stood in front of my house waiting to be let in.

I later received her AKC pedigree and tracked down her previous owners and her breeder. She came from a kennel CA. Her mother is a working drug detection dog . Her father is a SAR dog and tracking champ. They kept her because they were going to use her in their breeding program, but due to her soft temperament they used her to ‘babysit’ younger puppies when the mother dog went back to work. I suspect Lili was not well socialized and lived mostly outside as a kennel dog.

At 1 year of age she was sold to a woman in MA and shipped cross-country. This owner claims she bullied her two beagles and she gave Lili to her son. Her son tried to breed her, she never conceived and was given to a serviceman who ‘lost’ her in a card game to the person from whom I obtained her. She was intact and not housebroken. She knew basic commands. ..Sit, stay, down.

She was with me for 4 months as a foster (with my 13 yo shepherd mix male) during which she needed to be housebroken. I used timing and tethering to accomplish this. She would still have stealthy accidents (sneak into the basement) if she was left at home without me. She would walk nicely on a leash periodically but would frighten easily at distractions, leaves blowing, other dogs, wildlife, etc. and pull me over. I switched from a flat collar to a gentle-leader and she went ballistic and tried to claw it off, then did somersaults. She would bolt from the house whenever I tried to leave without her.

Clearly, I needed help, I was ever going to get her placed. I took her to a totally positive trainer, who recommended positive training/ gentle leader harness and a beginner’s class. At the first group lesson there were 12 dogs from 5 months to 5 years. A large, boisterous GSD entered the arena and dragged his owner over to sniff Lili. Lili went under my chair and refused to come out. She would not take treats and I left the class after 15 minutes. At the next week’s lesson the big GSD was outside the arena but Lili would not focus on treats, and was too distracted by the dog’s presence to continue. The following week she would not get out of the car at the training school.

In the interim, she was still trying to escape at home, would whine, cry and eliminate inappropriately when left at home. I called a trainer to come to the home. He was a traditional approach (correction collar) trainer. Lili did 5 lessons and I was able to get her to heel, long sit, long down and recall most of the time. But I felt that leash correction training was too harsh for her temperament.

I stopped the training and took her to a CPDT-KA Certified Trainer and Behavioral Consultant at MSPCA’s Nevins facility. He felt that Lili was a classic Cautious Canine and showed traits common to ‘kennel dogs’ and specifically, genetically nervous, anxious GSD’s.
We had 5 private lessons and joined a small low key positive class with 3 other dogs. Lili did very well and gained a great deal of confidence. She was focused enough to begin using treats for the first time. I had her spayed/gastropexied around this time. I decided to keep her as it was uncertain if she would ever ‘fit’ into a permanent home.

I added a rehomed 13 month old female Newfie while Lili was training with Paul. She has a very laid back temperament. My old dog became quite ill and was PTS shortly after the Newfie arrived. Lili bonded well with LuLu and began to be less anxious when she was left at home with her. She was still periodically escaping and running off. She never crossed the busy street but would not come to me when called no matter how ‘happy’ I tried to make her recall command.

In Feb of this year I broke my ankle and training went on hold. I moved to the Cape in May to help care for a friend’s Mom who had a stroke, also in Feb. The environment is very different from the single family, secluded property I was in previous to moving. I signed up with Joseph Mendonca at Joseph’s Obedience School in Pocasset. Joseph is a GSD breeder and very positive but uses some traditional traing methods. He placed her in Level 2 Obedience class and she did well with click/treat positive training. She has progressed to Level 3, and has gained a great deal of confidence but will not likely graduate since she will not stay with another handler while I go out of sight. She still has separation anxiety if I am not in sight.
Since moving to the Cape and the new environment/distractions and living situation, Lili has regressed in some areas of behavior: she has anxiety, whining and escalating to panting and panic if she is left alone.

She has developed excessive protective barking including barking at visitors and even me, when I come home. She has resumed inappropriate house soiling when she is left (even with her Newf Companion), she has jumped over the deck railing to chase wildlife and will not recall.
She is a wonderful, loving animal whom, I feel, is genetically determined to be high-strung and anxious. I will not give up on her, but I feel that with guidance, training and perhaps medications she can have a better quality of life. I plan to work with a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPACTP) at Joseph’s School in a drop-in class format. She is delighted that I am seeking input and suggestions to see if we can made the world a little less stressful for Lili.

All comments welcome since I have never worked such a high-anxiety dog. My malinois was a confident, bold dog with a stable temperment. Lili is a challenge to my patience.
 

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Join: shy-k9s : shy-k9s

Check out the archives. Post.

From: Working with a fearful, scared or shy dog

I am not able to add anything else at this time - I have to get going for a bit - but wanted to share those websites and also throw out the woo-woo thought of an animal communicator. :)

This is probably the first move she's been on where she is still with the person she started with?
 

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I later received her AKC pedigree and tracked down her previous owners and her breeder. She came from a kennel CA. Her mother is a working drug detection dog . Her father is a SAR dog and tracking champ. They kept her because they were going to use her in their breeding program, but due to her soft temperament they used her to ‘babysit’ younger puppies when the mother dog went back to work. I suspect Lili was not well socialized and lived mostly outside as a kennel dog.

She is a wonderful, loving animal whom, I feel, is genetically determined to be high-strung and anxious. I will not give up on her, but I feel that with guidance, training and perhaps medications she can have a better quality of life. I plan to work with a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPACTP) at Joseph’s School in a drop-in class format. She is delighted that I am seeking input and suggestions to see if we can made the world a little less stressful for Lili.
It's sounds like you're doing all the right things for her and I hope it all works out! No advice, it's hard to improve on Karen Pryor's techniques. :)

The one thing that's puzzling me is her babysitting for a litter. If she had a weak temperament I can't understand why the breeder thought it would be good to expose the pups to it. (and I don't expect you to have an answer either) I bet you're probably right about her not being well socialized and kenneled. Good luck, it sounds like she's going to be a success story having you for an owner.
 

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Join: shy-k9s : shy-k9s


From: Working with a fearful, scared or shy dog

I am not able to add anything else at this time - I have to get going for a bit - but wanted to share those websites and also throw out the woo-woo thought of an animal communicator. :)

This is probably the first move she's been on where she is still with the person she started with?

Thanks for the links! And talking to an animal communicator is not off the potentials...my friend, an animal sensitive tells me Lili is embarassed about her inability to control her impulses. "Any port in a storm", as the old sailors say!
 

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Since you seem to have an open mind to an animal communicator I have someone I would like to recommend that does things a bit different and has helped me. PM me if your interested in more information.

And thanks for taking such good care of her!
 

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I feel your pain with the separation anxiety! We also have a high-strung, anxious, reactive dog and they do take a lot of patience (and money).

Medication can definitely help reduce anxiety so that the dog is able to respond to training. Regen still isn't able to be left alone for more than 2-3 hours without her anxiety and stress going through the roof, but that is 2-3 hours more than we could manage without clomipramine.
 
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