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This is confusing, and I haven’t got it all quite sorted out in my head, so I apologize in advance if this is annoying to read.

Sofie turned 1 year old this past December. She’s almost perfection at home – depending on who’s giving the command she’s 100% compliant (with hubby); with me 100% with food, and 90% without food. With food, she’ll follow hand signals – it’s amazing what she’ll do for a piece of banana. The other 10% of the time with me she looks at me as if to say, “you’re not the boss of me, and besides, what’s in it for me?” My voice isn’t that deep and when I get angry, and the pitch rises, she seems to think that it’s double talk for “let’s play”…puts her butt up in the air and wants me to chase her. So, physically correcting her is impossible when she gets like this. She can be very challenging. It annoys me to no end, but overall she’s a pretty good little girl and that’s not what this is really about. Besides, she is the best dog that I’ve ever had in my life. She’s completely house trained, doesn’t chew on things that she’s not supposed to, and if she has all of her walks and play time, she’s fabulous to be around. Without the exercise she gets bored and can be a pill.

Back to the point….she’s always been uncomfortable around other dogs, from 12 weeks on (after she had last series of shots), so we’ve taken her almost every day to an area where she will be exposed. Either to the dog park, or sometimes she goes for ½ days to a doggie day camp. At one point she would nip at other dogs in an attempt to get them to chase her. Other dog owners didn’t care for this, and some were quite verbal. So, we finally got her to the point that she would sit with us at the dog park and not “bother” any of the other dogs. I was fine with her not wanting to play with other dogs…I just didn’t want her to be aggressive towards them. Well, in the past 3 months we’ve noticed a change in her behavior….she stopped sitting with us. It’s almost like it was a regression. Whereas she used to lunge and run after other dogs in an attempt to get them to chase her, she started to be a little more serious with the nipping and chasing, except it now seems like she’s trying to chase them away instead of trying to get them to chase her. So, I started taking her into the park on leash, going to an area where there were no dogs (she’ll stay pretty close to us), and then throwing the ball using a chuck-it. I hoped that she would be so intent on the ball that she would ignore the other dogs and see that they aren’t going to bother her (I assumed that it was fear issue). Well, she likes the chuck-it, but we still have to be vigilant to stay away from the other dogs. If they come within 12 feet, she abandons the ball and goes after them, and it sounds awful and viscious. We tried giving her something to keep in her mouth…but to no avail. She’ll drop it and go after another dog.

Well, I found out 8 weeks into it that I am pregnant. This shed a little light on some things. I stopped taking her to the park, but instead let the hubby take her by himself. It didn’t seem to matter; behavior continued.

Now (I’m 20 weeks at this point), I got a call from the doggie day camp that they’d like for me to come and get her and not bring her back. Last week she nipped a dog on the back of the neck, and now it seems as if any new dog, or very large dog (Great Dane), gets near her she barks her fool head off. They are afraid that she’s going to go after one of them. Her bark is very serious for just a puppy!

My dilemma is this…..do we mark it up to the pregnancy, and quit taking her around other dogs, perhaps waiting until after the baby is born, hoping that she’ll grow out of it? Baby won’t come until the end of May. Or, is this something that needs to be addressed right now? Will staying away only make it worse? I have little energy right now, and the whole pregnancy thing has just become quite consuming (I’m 41 and didn’t plan on children). I’m tired to the point where I almost feel like just letting it pass and if it turns out that she’s never good around other dogs, then so be it. On the other hand, I don’t want to make a decision that would be detrimental to her well being. On leash, around other dogs, she’s controllable and is fine. It’s just the off leash issue.

Any thoughts?
 

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Not all dogs are good with other dogs, and that's okay. Sophie is clearly more comfortable away from other dogs, despite all the socialization and effort you have put forth. I don't thing at this point that it can change much, but who knows? I would stop putting her in situations where there is a risk she will react badly. Not the end of the world if she isn't every dogs' best buddy. Focus on you and your husband being her best friend. It is a fallacy that dogs need other dogs to play with, they can play just as well with people. She is constantly stressed from being too close to other dogs - give her a break from that. I know you are following advice to socialize, socialize, socialize, but socialization does not have to mean that she interacts with every person and every dog that lives in her neighborhood.
If she is calm and well behaved on leash, even around other dogs, Congrats!!! You HAVE done a good job with her!

I wouldn't sweat her behaviour, nothing that you guys did to bring it out. Just who she is. Other than that, she does sound perfect! I think just accepting that Sophie is not that canine social, and not putting her into forced social situations will ease the stress you are feeling over this right now, and it will also relieve Sophie from a lot of stress she experiences when around other dogs.

You can find sport fields and other open areas to play chuckit and burn off some energy, it doesn't have to be a dog park.
 

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Lucia, thank you so much for your reply.

You have no idea how much of a relief "hearing" you say this is. Sofie is my first GSD (as an adult), and I can't tell you how many hours we've put in with her re: walking, obedience, training, playing, etc. With the socialization issue I've felt like a big fat failure. :cry:

After my experiences with her, even though she's head strong, and stubborn, I don't know if I could settle for another breed. GSD's are just marvelous, smart, fantastic dogs. She's uber protective in the house, but if we have guests in, she will lay down next to us and leave company alone (somewhat aloof). I love this about her. Her pros definitely outweigh the one con (that dang 10%!), but I'm working on that with her. That's another topic on another thread though (transitioning from treats, to obedience with none).

Thank you again for relieving my mind.
 

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If she's a year she's in the teenage 'butthead' stage which accounts for the 10% you spoke about. She will more than likely outgrow that, she's being a typical teenager.

I think she will be better off without the doggie day care IMO. GSD's would rather be with their people than other dogs. I take mine to a meetup...that has a trainer and the people are accountable owners....unlike what you have a dog parks. Any time I have walked by a doggie day care (ie petsmart) and there is a gsd they never look happy in there. They aren't labs that love to play with anything/body/dog. etc.
 

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My dog was labeled dog aggressive. He has always been a high drive, excitable dog. At 4 months, he would get excited at obedience, but never attacked another dog (I did keep a muzzle on him some because there were some very small dogs), though he would on occassion lock eyes with the adult lab. We bring him in the back at the vets, and actually had to get him from a boarder because they had all the dogs penned together in one room but separate cages, and he would tear at the cage to get out. The obedience trainer did think he was dog aggressive, and that she may could fix it with serious work, but didn't think I would be able to. Last year my daughter had two puppies and would bring them to visit (by this time my dog was two and a half). Though he was better, I watched him closely and kept them separated without complete supervision because I couldn't chance it. This summer my daughter moved home with her two dogs (GS 1 year, miniature dachsund 1 year). I was really scared, because my dog is definitely dominant. However, I have been so pleased with how he has bonded with her male GS (submissive) and her 6 pound mini-daschund. They have lived together peacefully and happily for 6 months now. Actually, he is a much calmer dog because he has more stimulation and play. Anyway, I still wouldn't necessarily trust him around other dogs, but he is not the hopeless case that he was painted to be.
 

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First and foremost I think the most important thing that may have been overlooked is the extreme kudos you deserve for doing so much for her and the hard work you've put in. Most would have just chalked it up as a "poorly behaved" dog and saw only negative.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with her. I'm super friendly and have lots of friends, but i also love to be alone. If you put me in comfortable situations everyday with lots of people in a room I would probably lash out too and hate it. Does that make me unsociable? not at all, it's just my personality.

I agree with Castlemaid that it's a falllacy that dogs crave the company of other dogs. Granted, most do, in this case yours doesn't. She seems like a great puppy and is super content being friends with you and your husband. Ofcourse it would be a different situation if you never attempted to socialize her in the beginning or if she was people agressive, but that is not the case. You've done everything in your power and miles more than some other owners would go to socialize her and it's just the way she is. Just don't put her in any more high stress situations or where she's not comfortable. Accept that it's ok for her not to like other dogs and that you've done a great job already.
 

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Bo, at age one year, is the same way. We have several other dogs that he loves, and plays daily with my husband's husky. But strange dogs bring out the worst in him and there is not much I can do about it. I've decided to do the same as you and just accept him as he is and not put him in those situations that make him uncomfortable. Also, during holidays when we have a houseful of company, he is not happy, so I'm not going to ask him to stay with me, and just put him in the yard or his crate while they are here. Obviously, I will keep an eye on him to make sure he is taking that well.
 
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