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Hi everyone.

I've already posted about my fearful puppy. But the question I really need answering is, what is normal GSD puppy reactivity to people and other dogs? I'm talking about working lines. I assume that with high drive comes some reactivity, but I would expect if to be excited rather than defensive.

Those of you with bold stable working dogs, how reactive was your puppy, and how much of it was defensive? In my own experience, my most confident dog was not defensive at all as a puppy.

Thanks,

Ava
 

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My 6 month old is not defensive at all, and has never been.
She's excited beyond belief to meet new people, but that's easing a little, and she's tentative at first with other dogs but after a few minutes she's very playful.
She's all I've had so I don't know what's normal.
 

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Jesse who is 6 months old too is the same as Lucina's GSD, but he does have one fear that we haven't solved and that is cars - but it is ok cause better to be afraid of them than to want to chase them. Jesse if he knows the dogs he is good with them right away but if it is a new dog he walks up to them slowly to sniff and if they are interested he wants to play if they show agression or no interest he walks back over to me and sits. Jesse show defence only in the house if someone comes to the door and doesn't ring the bell he will growl, if they ring the bell I am working on Jesse to sit and stay behind me while I answer the door and he is fine with whoever is at the door. Hubby came home late one night when Jesse and I were sleeping and Jesse heard door open and woke up, hair up on his back, growling/barking and standing over my body.
 

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Our female puppy is 4 1/2 months old and more reactive than our male was at that age. When she sees something she doesn't expect, she's quick to give her "big girl" bark (which from my understanding is more defensive) but there's always forward movement towards the thing that has startled her. She never seems fearful, more like "Hey what's that?" Our male probably would have looked at it and just kept on with whatever he was doing.
 

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I've read all of your threads. Here is my take:

I have a 13 yo dog lying here next to my right now who was timid as a pup but nowhere near as timid as you describe. She was just a bit shy but interacted with both people and other dogs without issues. I did all kinds of confidence building training and it worked but fundamentally she is the same dog. She will do anything for me but she never had that kind of innate confidence you find in a more solid dog.

I also rescued a dog who was extremely fearful. In his case he had a very solid temperament but years of abuse and neglect had made him fearful. He behaved as you describe your pup behaving initially (with people but not other dogs) but came around beautifully with training and after three or four years of daily training and counter conditioning was calm and confident in most situations. His base temperament, as I said, was solid.

So that's a long way of saying that I think you can work with your pup to make her more confident but I don't think she's ever going to be the kind of dog you want her to be. That said, can you adjust your expectations for her? What will happen to her if you return her? Are there things she really likes to do that you could build on with her?

Here's a question for you: Are you getting frustrated with her? I'm wondering if she might be sensing something like that and throwing out calming signals for you. If that's not the case and she's shutting down that much at such a young age then I think your best bet is to accept her for who she is and work from there.
 

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Hi BWM,

Thank you for your reply.

The pup does throw off calming signals when I get out the leash. He's downright pitiful. When we go out in the world to train, he's in avoidance, even if we're isolated. All training has been positive and he enjoys it a lot at home.

As far as frustration, I would describe it more as a sick feeling in my gut. This dog comes from very strong working lines, and if he's got weak nerves he could ultimately be dangerous and a liability.

Ava
 

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Are you sure there is nothing wrong with him physically (assuming that you got him because you knew of the parents and their temperament and have talked to the breeder)? Like neurologically, or with digestive issues, etc?

Is the major problem reaction to other dogs?

Or is it just being out of the home?

Or both!

I am not answering this as a person with a working line puppy or adult. Just as someone who has fostered scaredy pups who have gone on to be pretty solid considering all the unknowns.

I did take them to obedience classes, but with my dogs, and they just had to sit and watch. I found that to be a great thing to do with any dog of any age-and very relaxing for me, too! Always something to see and laugh at with dog classes.

I definitely think anyone answering should read the previous thread for more insight into what Ava is seeing in this puppy (name?).
 

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Originally Posted By: avagsdHi BWM,

Thank you for your reply.

The pup does throw off calming signals when I get out the leash. He's downright pitiful. When we go out in the world to train, he's in avoidance, even if we're isolated. All training has been positive and he enjoys it a lot at home.

As far as frustration, I would describe it more as a sick feeling in my gut. This dog comes from very strong working lines, and if he's got weak nerves he could ultimately be dangerous and a liability.

Ava
Ava,

I do understand how disappointed you must feel. I've never purchased a dog but I did adopt one who I thought was really solid and he turned out to be a lot of work. In that case, the most helpful thing for me was to adjust my expectations and work on accepting and loving him for who he was and not who I hoped he would be.

Basu, the abused dog I described in my first post did come from W. German working lines. He was not dangerous though because I understood him and could predict when he was over his comfort threshold. That threshold gradually became larger and larger.

Have you read any of Patricia McConnell's books? I think you would find them very helpful. I think you also would find the book "Click to Calm" very helpful. Also, please check out the Shy-K9s group on Yahoo. http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/shy-k9s/?v=1&t=directory&ch=web&pub=groups&sec=dir&slk=3

There are many trainers on that group and people with years of experience working with fearful dogs.

He might not be suitable for Schutzhund but I'm sure he can still be an excellent and reliable companion if you're willing to continue working with him.
 

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Domingo was very outgoing as a pup. Loved everyone, got very, very excited to meet them:)
Around 2 he became Cujo. If someone moves threateningly or gives him the eye, then better hope he is leashed.
Great around family, fine on walks at the park, different surfaces, etc. Strangers can walk by with no probs.
So I do not know that you can always tell.

Is there anyway you could get a short video? Sometimes we are unable to clearly see what is going on with our dogs and outside viewpoints are helpful.
 

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I'm going to put my flame suit here and step into the fire...

Originally Posted By: avagsdHi BWM,

As far as frustration, I would describe it more as a sick feeling in my gut. This dog comes from very strong working lines, and if he's got weak nerves he could ultimately be dangerous and a liability.

Ava
If you are not enjoying working with him, he will not enjoy work also, and not only now, in the little steps of socialization but in the future 12-14 years to come and it can become a sad life for the dog. You had something in mind when you were selecting a pup, you wanted to do obedience and you picked a breeder from certain lines and parents with certain characteristics and turned up not to be what you purchased (and paid). I'd not return a pup because of light eyes or floppy ears, but I'd do with a poor nerved dog because that is what you live with.

Maybe others will judge you if you decide to consider the idea of returning him to the breeder, but not me, I think you are in your right. Maybe not, maybe you are already to attached to the pup and you want to fight to the end for him and I applaud it, but if the idea has been nagging you and you see returning him as a possibility, better now than later.
 

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Originally Posted By: avagsdHi BWM,

Thank you for your reply.

The pup does throw off calming signals when I get out the leash. He's downright pitiful. When we go out in the world to train, he's in avoidance, even if we're isolated. All training has been positive and he enjoys it a lot at home.

As far as frustration, I would describe it more as a sick feeling in my gut. This dog comes from very strong working lines, and if he's got weak nerves he could ultimately be dangerous and a liability.

Ava
Ava-

I have read everything that you have written in both threads and you seem to be pretty dog savvy. I think your gut IS talking here and like the previous poster said, if you are seeing fearful behavior to the extent that you have written, I would not fault you either for returning the pup. Just because it comes from great lines does not mean it cannot have issues. I know you wanted this dog as a working prospect. Is there a local SchH club or a respected trainer in your area that could perhaps evaluate the puppy?
 
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