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Discussion Starter #1
I've talked about this in a different forum, but wanted to address it here, because I think it fits better. Titus is a 10 month old, mixed lines GSD. He was supposed to be bred basically as a family protector. We got him at 15 weeks, he hadn't been socialized. We tried to follow the basic advice about socializing. We had people over, he was excited, hyper, licky, jumpy, ECT. We went to the pet store, he got carsick every time, but wasn't shy with people. He got pano at 5 months, and the carsickness never got better, so we slowed down on the outings, from once a week to once every two weeks. He was increasingly nervous with strangers. We skied down even more, and completely stopped taking him to the pet store. Then the vet squeezed his painful leg, and he yelped and showed his teeth. He's not trusted strangers since that, and it takes me some time to carefully introduce him to people who come over. The trainers I've talked to mostly say that it's just because he's a German shepherd, but my other older GSD isn't like that at all. Her dad was a show dog who also has a Schutzhund title, and her mom was level 3 Schutzhund, bred for police and protection work. His parents seem more mixed than that, and I've had some advice that he might just have weak nerves. The breeder says it's mostly just his age, and he is learning who to trust. She also said we probably over socialized him. I thought we under socialized him. Has anyone had a pup go through a really difficult secondary fear stage like this, and turn out ok? Did we ruin him by taking him to the petstore? The black is Titus, Kona is in the back. The pedigrees are his parents.
 

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No, you didn't ruin him.

I don't think anyone can really answer your question directly without seeing the dog. Training also comes in to play and in the other thread you said when he's a butthead you only tell him No while using a halti that issues no correction. So the reason why doesn't really matter. The solution is obedience and black/white rules.

Hopefully David and Steve will post. They are both really good at describing solutions. I know what I would do but have a terrible time putting it into words to help others.
 

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You didn't ruin him by taking him to the pet store. I took Rollo to the pet store probably 100x when he was a puppy. But I do agree with Jax, the rules need to be 100% clear to the dog. They need to know exactly what behavior is acceptable & what behavior is not acceptable, and they need to be held accountable when they are engaging in an unacceptable behavior. The more a dog gets away with certain behaviors, the harder it becomes.
 

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I've been told a pinch collar would make him more reactive, or likely to redirect. Is that not true? I did use one 15 years ago with my first shepherd who was reactive. She never really got to a point where she liked other dogs, but she was easy to walk. He struggles and whines, flips his head with the halti when other dogs are barking behind a fence, so I didn't think it's helping much. I'll try a pinch collar, I just don't want to make it worse. I think what I'm hearing is the socialization matters a lot less than genetics, is that right?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Also, is the secondary fear stage a real issue, or is the breeder making more of that than there is to distract from potential genetic problems?
 

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It depends on how it's used and on the dog. A prong will help you control him while you teach him to walk on a leash so he doesn't hurt you. The choke collar is what I would use for the correction. He reacts, you lift up on the collar. You do not say a word. The correction is not about YOU, it's about the correction. I can send you a PM explaining how I do it maybe tomorrow.

Socializing matters. Don't get me wrong. How you socialize matters. Some people think flooding the dog with people and other dogs is great. I think that's all wrong. I think the puppy should be allowed to experience the world without being flooded.

Now, the other dogs barking behind the fence - you can't control that. And of course he's going to react. Your job is to teach him to ignore those dogs. You can't correct him for reacting. You teach him Leave It and to heel. Once he understands those, then you can give the command and if he ignores teh command, you can correct that.
 

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Yea the prong or choke collar would be fine assuming it's used correctly! For either one, you need to correct the dog with it when he reacts. Like Jax said, don't yell "No, no no!" while you are doing it. The dog reacts, you give a quick little correction. When starting out, you don't want to put the dog in situations where you will be constantly correcting them, start small and work up in increments.
 

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You could try contacting an IPO club and see if they have recommendations for trainers within a reasonable driving distance. Nia is in Olympia.
germanshepherddog.com
Cascade Schutzhund Verein

Timing for any correction is pretty important in this situation as well as the rewards for the correct behavior. Don't forget about the rewards. Black/white. Wrong-correction/Right-party.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Right, that all makes sense. I have the nylon choke, so I'll use that right away. I do use a single, firm No when he gets amped up around other dogs. What about when he is nervous and jumps back with people? We never really flooded him, and for the last 5 months or so, he's only had a handful of people he didn't already know try to pet him, under controlled circumstances. I never made him accept petting from anyone, I let him sniff, then they reach out, and he unusually backs up. We don't push him, and usually try to have them give him treats. The problem is, we rarely have anyone over. Most of the family isn't local, and we don't know many people in town. I could try going to a dog class, but most of them will only do private sessions for about 80-100 a session. I don't know how much help that will be, but it might be good to get him around someone who at least knows how to read dog body language, and has a calm dog we can work him around, in a controlled setting. Or I could just keep walking him in the neighborhood, and occasionally parks.
 

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You could try contacting an IPO club and see if they have recommendations for trainers within a reasonable driving distance. Nia is in Olympia.
germanshepherddog.com
Cascade Schutzhund Verein

Timing for any correction is pretty important in this situation as well as the rewards for the correct behavior. Don't forget about the rewards. Black/white. Wrong-correction/Right-party.
Absolutely! I can't believe I forgot to mention that. Figure out what your dog likes & motivates them, and incorporate that into their reward for correct behavior! (For Rollo, this is his tug - his absolute favorite thing in the world lol)
 

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I'd just lump it under weak nerves and deal with it that way. Dogs like that are better with certainty and consistency in their life. Structure and routine. Random meeting of strangers or other dogs has them thinking too much about too many things. Things you don't view as random, in his mind really are. If you're going to use a prong or nylon, introduce it to him away from what bugs him. If you just put it on and try to correct him out of things, you're timing is generally going to be late and then the correction is just adding stress to his stress. Now you have conflict with you and thats one way you just amp them up or get a redirection.

Don't quit taking him out though. Just use distance from things that bug him, play with him in as many places as possible. Think of people and dogs as distractions to be introduced later. Not through contact with them, just background that doesn't have any significance. Something I do is teach my dog Leave it very early. I walk him by something that will get a little attention, I say "Leave it" followed by an immediate pop with the leash and I just calmly keep moving. Later on I add in "Come" and I reward him for that. Then once I put a prong on, I use that same known sequence to introduce the prong. It helps teach a positive reaction to a prong correction. I use that basic sequence through their whole life.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Titus loves his ball, but not on a walk, or even if the neighbor dog is out. We will be having my in-laws toss it to him along with treats when they get here today. I think he'll like that. His prey drive is so high that he's on constant alert outside, I can get him to take treats most of the time. It's there any way to make him want the ball more, so that it's better than squirrels?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
And I will contact someone about trainers in the area on Monday. Thanks for that. Finding a good trainer is frustrating at best. I think most of them don't know any more than I do (when I was young I worked as a trainer at Petsmart)
 

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I will try that, Steve, thanks. What about having people over? Should I stick to the routine of counter conditioning?
 

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You never stop counter conditioning. It will be a way of life for a weak nerved dog. The "counter conditioning" is just training and will help with the structure.
 

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I will try that, Steve, thanks. What about having people over? Should I stick to the routine of counter conditioning?
I wouldn't. Maybe I've just gotten lazy, but for me, whats the benefit to having my dog out with strangers? All I care about is that they're good with my wife and kids at home. When we have anyone over, I don't want to spend the time teaching a territorial dog to accept someone they may not see again for a month.
 

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I will try that, Steve, thanks. What about having people over? Should I stick to the routine of counter conditioning?
I wouldn't. Maybe I've just gotten lazy, but for me, whats the benefit to having my dog out with strangers? All I care about is that they're good with my wife and kids at home. When we have anyone over, I don't want to spend the time teaching a territorial dog to accept someone they may not see again for a month.
Couldn’t agree more with this. I have a 9yr old I got at 4yrs old, and she has weak nerves and fear aggression issues. If we are having people over, which is rarely, we put her in our room. When guests and dog have settled, we will let her out sometimes, and if she has a good reaction, she can hang out, if she seems nervous or alert, we put her back in the room. She LOVES being in my room, it’s her happy place. And she’s old, I don’t see the point in stressing her when we have infrequent guests. We let her out when DH’s family visits, because they are “regulars” and Lyka has never shown any discomfort around them. Which kinda sucks for me, I don’t like humans and it would give me an excuse to hide in my room with her if she didn’t like his family members 😂😂😂 It’s usually easy to tell with her. She has the “I recognize that voice, I wanna say hi” bark, and then she has the “who the heck is that stranger talking, and what they heck are they doing in my house, let me out to bite them” bark. She’s only been uncomfortable with 2 people we have over regularly, so we just don’t bring her out. They are DH’s friends, and they are all so loud, I can’t really blame her. I’d want to bark and chase them out of the house too 🤣
 

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So, crate him then? That's definitely an option, but they will be highly offended (they are "dog people" who don't really know that much about dog behavior). Also, we go there, with the dogs for the holidays. We can bring the crate and keep him locked up, but it won't set well with the in-laws.
 

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I wouldn't. Maybe I've just gotten lazy, but for me, whats the benefit to having my dog out with strangers? All I care about is that they're good with my wife and kids at home. When we have anyone over, I don't want to spend the time teaching a territorial dog to accept someone they may not see again for a month.
ohhhh...I misunderstood the question.

I think you need to teach the dog to chill in the crate. If someone is in my house and Seger is locked away, he goes nuts because someone is in our house. So I still think there is some counter conditioning but perhaps in a different way. It might go back to crate training and learning to relax with people are in the house. Maybe teach him that if the doorbell rings or knocks on the door, that's his signal to go to the crate where great things like raw meaty bones happen.

We've had a couple of weak nerved dogs in different ways. Crating them actually helps them relax because it takes the stress of feeling they need to react to something away. Crate = Quiet Safety.
 

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So, crate him then? That's definitely an option, but they will be highly offended (they are "dog people" who don't really know that much about dog behavior). Also, we go there, with the dogs for the holidays. We can bring the crate and keep him locked up, but it won't set well with the in-laws.
Your dog. Your rules. Explain it nicely and be firm. You are training. End of story. If some day he starts to behave appropriately then he can be out.
 
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