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Discussion Starter #1
A Cousin of mine had a girlfriend who bought him a GSD from what I think is probably a puppy mill. Long story short they brokeup and he no longer wanted the puppy. My wife and I are Shepherd lovers, and have a 5 year old ourselves, so we decided to drive down to my hometown and get him.

He is about 6 months old, and has AKC papers. From what the girlfriend says he was abused by the other dogs at the "breeder" and was covered in scratches and marks when they got him. He was also infested with flea, and ticks.

He is terrified of big dogs, but that seems somewhat normal for his age, but I am concerned what the introduction will be like to our own GSD when we get home (we are about to start the trip back). When he saw my parents massive rottweiler he yelped and dragged my wife 20 yards across the driveway back to the car, where he hid behind her. Poor thing.

Our dog Axel is very friendly...but very hyper when meeting new dogs and I want to keep it a positive experience for them. Beyond that, I would like to start the healing process for him, and get his self confidence built back up. I have a feeling his "breeder" also personally abused him because he is skittish around male voices.

He doesn't seem to respond to his name "Brutus" and my wife isn't real crazy about it, so we're thinking about changing that too and give him a real fresh start. Disturbingly though, he does respond to "chesseburger" being his former owner was a manager at a Mc Donalds that kind of terrifies me haha.
 

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Our youngest boxer came from a similar situation with the other puppies beating on her. Get him into a puppy class so he can learn to play with other dogs. Sierra is extremely dog aggressive thru fear because we did not do these things.

Put your adult GSD in a crate and let the puppy have the freedom to come and go near him. That is what works best for my dogs. The freedom to get away from the situation seems to be the calming point for them and they quickly come around.

Take them for walks together so the puppy is near the other.
 

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Thanks Jax, I was thinking about doing that as it helped out a lot with Axel's fear aggression he had as a puppy.

How long, or if ever, do you think I should wait before taking him to a dog park? We have a pretty nice one here with big pools for dogs to swim in, I was thinking to go during a slow part of the day and see how he reacts.
 

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Firstly, thank you for giving the dog a stable home

I would start with taking the dog to a vet and making sure the dog is physically healthy, with such a bad start to life it's hard to know the damage done.

Then I would shop around for a good trainer and or behaviourist who specializes in fearful dogs. My family have owned several rescue dogs from horrible circumstances, the worst being a four year old cocker spaniel from the Paws R Us bust in Quebec. She's been with my parents for 15 months now and has bad days and good days in her fear, but from where she was when she was dropped off she's vastly improved. The main thing with dealing with fear is the fine balance between coddling and pushing too hard. Thresholds are fairly easy to pick out to those who know what they're looking for, which is where a behaviourist would be invaluable

Finally, give them time to heal. For a dog like Lady (my parent's cocker spaniel) she literally would shake whenever a man would be in the room. Now my dad can sit beside her on the couch and she's starting to learn to enjoy it slowly, and this is over a year of slowly pushing boundaries. As much as we would love to fix all the problems overnight, it rarely happens

I agree with Michelle and make sure the first introduction is on leash and on neutral territory. If there are two people have each walk a dog, you side by side and a dog on the opposite sides so they can smell the other dog but not greet. If everything is going well then allow a sniff or two but if the new dog is backing down or the current dog is too overwhelming stop the introduction before it becomes a issue. Always do your best to keep it positive and be ready to step in at any time to seperate if it's not mutually fun for both dogs
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Firstly, thank you for giving the dog a stable home

I would start with taking the dog to a vet and making sure the dog is physically healthy, with such a bad start to life it's hard to know the damage done.

Then I would shop around for a good trainer and or behaviourist who specializes in fearful dogs.

Agreed on both counts, I am worried about heartworms. This part of Texas stays pretty warm year round.

I would like to find a good behaviourist, but I am concerned about getting a whack job that could make matters far worse. If anyone has any suggestions for on on the south west side of Houston I would be in your debt.
 

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How long, or if ever, do you think I should wait before taking him to a dog park? We have a pretty nice one here with big pools for dogs to swim in, I was thinking to go during a slow part of the day and see how he reacts.
I would not take a puppy that you know has fear issues to a dog park. Once you are confident that he is over the issues...maybe...but now? No way. I would find a place where you know there are no whacky dogs that would make the fear worse. Only confident, stable dogs for this pup!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
It went good introducing him to the other dog. We did the goig on a walk idea with each of us walking one dog on opposite sides of the neighbourhood street, while I slowly worked in closer.

It took about half an hour but eventually Duke allowed Axel to sniff him as long as he didn't try to play. Eventually Duke was okay with some very light playing. Although, he loves to play with our little yorkie.

Axel is being very possessive of the toys though and takes away anything Duke tries to play with...I see this being a big issue later on which I will need some help with.

He won't leave my wifes side, and panics if she tries. He uses her as a human shield to hide from things that he's cautious of...like wind.

The first night as horrible, he cried allll night and kept running around the room. Hopefully tonight will be better now that he is better settled in
 

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One thing that helped me with my two fearful rescues is just letting them watch and interact at their own pace. Basically, not reacting to the dog. The less they have to anticipate your reaction, the less stress they feel, I believe.

Be careful not to give positive reinforcement to the whining, i.e., no "reassuring" hugs/pets, etc. That will backfire on you.

Patricia B. McConnell has written some really good books on dealing with fearful dogs. They're mostly short, easy reads. I just ordered another one off of Amazon this morning, The Cautious Canine-How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears.

Research will help. The people on this forum are very helpful :)

Mostly, be patient. It will take time, but they can outgrow it!
 
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