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I have a male gsd hes about a year ina half now. I will take him out places or on walks and if someone comes up to pet him or come close to us he will bark sometimes but always back up and try to get away. does he just need more socialization? I will take him to petsmart to walk aound and he will be nervous of everybody there and always wants to leave
 

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It could be. I adopted a fearful young male and he would back up, sometimes after barking a warning. He outgrew it as I introduced him to more and more people. Not letting people approach him, but letting him approach them on his own time can help, if it is a fearful thing. Letting people walk up and pet him can backfire and make him more afraid, and he could react fearful aggressively (he could snap).

A friendly neighbor standing back with a treat in her hand has done him wonders. He gets to watch the other dogs go up and take their treats, and now he will too.

Also, my guy LOVES to play, so letting the kids throw the ball for him has worked miracles as far as him warming up to them. Be careful about that, though, it requires some very close supervision on your part.

Take it slow, be patient, watch him closely, and progressively introduce him to more and more people. Also, it can help to have a well-adjusted dog around that your dog can watch interacting with strangers. That way he can see it's not so scary after all :)

I'm not a professional, just a repeat rescuer of dogs with fearfulness, so this is just what has worked for me in the past. Good luck!
 

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he may need more socializing and training. a behaviourist
could help. i wouldn't take a nervous dog to public places
to socialize.
 

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something to definitely get evaluated by a professional. fearfulness can turn into fear aggression if not handled right. and you definitely do not force people/things on these dogs. very slow conditioning and setting situations up. people need to ignore a dog like this, no eye contact no touch or talk. they can come around with the right exposure. you also need to learn how to handle situations so the dog trusts you and knows you are confident and in control.
i have a dog that did the same thing early on he would back up and growl if people approached him. lots of hard work and conditioning helped alot. some of these dogs will never get 100% but its something that can be worked with., and improved upon. but hard to do without professional guidence.
 

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What debbiebrown said!

If he has always been shy and fearful despite a lot of socialization, then that is how his brain is wired, and not likely to change. Completely agree with debbie's post:

with work you can help some, and he can improve some, but will never be very comfortable in new situations or around people he does not know.

Socialization is only beneficial if if is positive. Taking him out to expose him to people when he is nervous and scared at each new encounter is couter-productive. Don't force any contact or interaction on him.

I'd work more on showing him that he can trust you to keep him safe by keeping him in his comfort zone, and v e e e e r r r r y y y y gradually expose him to more places and people.

See if you can find a trainer or behaviourist with whom you can work. Get a plan set up and have guidance to bring him along.
 

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Lucia is right, never force anything upon him that he is not comfortable with or any progress will be brought back to step one. sounds like he might be wired to be one of those dogs that just don't have the confidence naturally.

with my dog like this, i did several different thing to build a trust bond and give him confidence. i started him in agility when he was in his first year or so, Obedience classes and tracking. i found he was nervous in small rooms etc. so i started working more with people outside. but, any new encounter i controlled and went within his threshold. told people what to do around him etc. it totally takes thinking ahead of time and a good plan of action, plus the leader/owner needs to be in complete tune with how the dog is feeling, body lauguage etc................slow, slow, slow steps.

genetics are a huge part of this personality, although some not as bad as others. and lack of early social does not help for sure.........also the majority of people have no idea how to deal with insecure dogs, including myself at one time. i had always had very confident dogs that thrived with the normal Obedience classes, sporting stuff, and social stuff. this is a very huge commitment and a lifetime thing..........
 

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Willa is VERY timid. We also have some issues with separation anxiety from me. We are working with a professional trainer, as we are afraid that it will turn into "defensive aggression". We have started handing out treats to people we know we will see on a walk, and every one of them gives it to her. Every day. Pretty soon she walked up to them expecting treats - she now associates it as a positive experience. Now she gets treats while they pet her head. Lots of praise, make it fun! We have an AMAZING trainer helping us, and its expensive, but worth every penny to see her come out of her shell! She is only 4.5 mos, so it is probably easier for her to overcome than someone a bit older. Good luck!


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strangers giving out treats can work for some dogs, but for others the stranger lifting their hand to give a treat or walking twards a fearful dog may be threatening. you just have to know what you are working with.
 

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Yeah, we started with tossing, then offering palm up, no touching until she was ready. As I said, a good trainer was the mot important part for us!


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a good trainer is the most important thing. honestly, you really have to click with a good trainer in order to understand and learn. also all trainers have their way of training. personally i like a trainer that is willing to think outside the box and really troubleshoot according to the individual dog and person. it is definitely a huge learning expereince for the person more than the dog. what you do, and how you act really effects this type of dog.

tossing treats in a none threatening manner can work well. i found tossing overhand and rasing the hand to throw was very threatening to my dog. people walking by and just dropping treats and kept moving worked best.
 
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