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Hi everyone, really appreciate any ideas on how to help my 1yr old females fear and anxiety.
To start I will be honest and say i am medicated for anxiety problems, and I am prone to panic attacks. When I do have a panic attack, guess who else starts to panic.
So my problem is Rain tends to be very concerned about new things, places, people. Which to me seems ridiculous because I take her everywhere with me, to all the dog friendly shops.
So she gets nervous when people approach her and she backs away.
I have always been predantic about her being well trained and behaved. Which she is, but this fear issue is concerning me. I truly believe she would fear bite.
So these are the new things I am trying. Any comments or advice would be so wonderful

When we walk I'm now starting to let her lead the way, and even pull a bit, letting her use her nose more and be a little more dog like. This has really helped with her being concerned about traffic and loud noises(maybe she doesn't feel so stuck because she isn't on a short leash)

I am trying to get strangers to feed her, especially men and children.

When she is being nervous or fearful I don't pay her any attention, I just keep moving forward. Only when she is relaxed and calm do I give her affection.

Any other tips?

Thanks a bunch everyone.
P.s she is terrified of people wearing hats, even though I wear one everyday.


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Not very good idea to let strangers to feed her. She is only one year old. I knew a guy who received this "wise" advise from his friend when he complained that his dog isn't sure about the strangers and behaves agressively. So, he followed his friend's advise, any nice lady, any old chap, any kid was allowed to feed his dog if not his/her own snack then a piece of cheese he always had in his pocket. His dog understood very quickly that people often have food with them. Why to wait to be treated? Bark once - and the old crony will drop her nice smelling package herself!
You are doing right ignoring your dog's nervousness. It is not unusual for the young females to be skittish, it will go away with time.
It is a very good idea of yours to have your dog as your leader. She might cure you, don't you know that? Trust her. Trust her more, and try to walk more often without the lead. More freedom you give to your dog - more loyal they become. GSDs cannot be happy creatures without giving them some job to do. Even some simple outdoor games can change your dog's reactions. Her growing emotional potential needs some discharge, think how you can drive positive emotions out of her by playing with her.
 

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"When we walk I'm now starting to let her lead the way, and even pull a bit, letting her use her nose more and be a little more dog like. This has really helped with her being concerned about traffic and loud noises(maybe she doesn't feel so stuck because she isn't on a short leash) "

I think you are creating a problem . Be consistent . She should be "with" , you in charge . She may appear better able to handle the situation but in fact may be rushing to get out of it , pulling , to avoid .
" I truly believe she would fear bite. "
I would put her back in to her obedience mode. Expectations the same all the time . Knowing what is to be expected is comforting . I would not have strangers feed her . That is not normal behaviour of strangers. Don't expose children to her risk of biting !
Instead of flooding her with "experience" to try to condition her out of her fear , go to the same locations when it is off time , when there are fewer people or no people. Let her handle one thing at a time so that it is not so overwhelming. Keep going to the same place . Make it routine and routinely successful for her . Then as you go when the route has more people to encounter she will be able to handle things better . Don't force encounters or social contact .
 

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go to amazon.com and get the book : Help for your fearful dog by nicole wilde.. its a great book for dogs with fear issues on how to work on the issues and how to handle them.. its a few hundred pages, but well worth it as its a step by step book that goes thru baby steps on what to do in situations etc...
 

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i also agree not to let her lead the way. she needs a leader to make decisions for her. using her nose is good, but not leading to do it. i would practice you walking up to strangers instead of them walking up to you. by you leading they way states that things are ok. walk up within the stranger tell them your working with your dog, no touch, talk or eye contact with the dog. stand there and have a normal converstaion with them. then if your dog wants to sniff let her, but still tell the person no touch, talk or eye contact. if you can read your dog after that and she looks comfortable, then maybe a treat, but no touch, talk or eye contact. i would do this for a long while before progressing on. i would also work on people playing with her, maybe throwing her favorite toy etc. that works really well, because they are in a different mode when they are playing. and yes, your fears and anxiety do rub off on her, even if you think its not. you have an unsure dog and you have your own anxiety makes it even harder. if you can i would try and work with a professional so they can see what your doing and what the dogs doing, and help give you confidence to handle situations. And i would not let her run loose and make her own decisions until you work on the basic steps first. especially if you feel she is a fear biter. its well worth paying a professional for help with this type of situation.........
 

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I am having this same issue with Roxy ( 4 months)...the fex ex man even called her a chicken today...I wanted to say OH YEAH come back in a couple months..but I didn't.
Some people she will let approach her and she'll approach but others she won't. I'm sure his truck pulling in our driveway is what set off this "skittish" moment.

I am going to look into that book too. I want her to be a happy confident pup. I was comforted to hear that sometimes the females are like this. We have her brother in our puppy class and he's total opposite of her..he's hyper and he'll go to anybody
 

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It has NOTHING to do with the sex of the dog. I have had two fearful dogs and both were male. None of my females were fearful. I think that poster makes thing up to sound knowledgeable. :(

Another GREAT resource for shy or fearful dogs is the yahoo groups shyk9s: shy-k9s : shy-k9s
 

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Nicole Wilde's book is a great resource. Ali Brown's book Scaredy Dog is also a good complementary piece.

It's hard for me to offer more specific advice online because, when a fearful dog is being handled by a person who is also prone to anxiety problems, there are a lot of potential variables and interactions in play that I just can't see. So my suggestion would be instead to read those books, and take a look at Debbie Jacobs's website: Fearfuldogs.com (she also has a book). Take what seems relevant to your situation and workable within your own ethical frame. Try different things and watch carefully to see how your dog reacts. Let your dog's responses be your guide.

Leslie McDevitt's book Control Unleashed also has excellent suggestions and ideas for helping dogs cope with stress generally. It's written for sport dogs, but those same ideas and suggestions work for fearful dogs just trying to get through normal life.
 
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