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Bear has been going to day care since January. He's probably been there over 100 times but everytine we go there he barks at the handlers. Today he growled and showed his teeth. It was to the point they were not gonna take him today. So when will he get that its safe there and there's no threat???

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This doesn't sound very good. JMHO, but I'd stop taking my dog there. I'm not saying they're abusing him, obviously I have no clue what's going on, but if this escalates then Bear will be in a very bad position. Especially if he ends up biting someone.
 

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I would stop taking him to daycare. You have no idea what they are doing to him when you are not around and the fact he's getting WORSE not better would alarm me.

Just keep him with you for now and when you come back from work then take him out and about, attend dog classes, make playdates with good doggie friends. He needs you around so he gets back into balance.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'd hate to think that although it is absolutely possible. Im gone 8 hours so I always figure hes better off there. My mom watches him by her house sometimes but hes usually in her back yard most of the day when hes there if its nice outside, is it ok for him to be outside that long? Also he will be 1 year old june 1 and he is not neutered if that makes any difference.

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I'm hardly the expert and i'm reluctant to give advice but this post jumped out at me. Are you sure it's safe and there's no threat? If Bear doesn't bark/growl at other people it would make me wonder what makes him feel anxious/threatened by the handlers and/or location. This may be greatest place in the world with super nice and loving handlers but there's something Bear doesn't like about it and you need to figure out what that is.
 

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There's nothing wrong with him being outside for that length of time on a nice day. I'm sure most dogs would love it, lol! I'd be concerned about making sure that the fence is secure, so he can't jump it or dig under it. And also be careful that he's not barking out of boredom and being a nuisance. And make sure nobody will be able to pester him either. What's the set-up like over there?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm hardly the expert and i'm reluctant to give advice but this post jumped out at me. Are you sure it's safe and there's no threat? If Bear doesn't bark/growl at other people it would make me wonder what makes him feel anxious/threatened by the handlers and/or location. This may be greatest place in the world with super nice and loving handlers but there's something Bear doesn't like about it and you need to figure out what that is.
I obviously cant be 100% sure its safe but I hope it is. I see other dogs go in with no issue.

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As a point of comparison, when I take my dogs to "play care" at the vet's office, they're ecstatic--happy and excited--from the moment we turn in the parking lot. They dance inside and can't wait to be taken into the back. That tells me they're in good hands while they are there.

A defensive teeth-baring from dog who otherwise never does that would be a big red flag to me too. That is a warning signal that can be a precursor to a bite. He's telling you whatever this place is, whoever these people are, are beyond his threshold of tolerance.
 

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Your dog is telling you he does not like that place. Does not matter why. Is this the only doggie day care in your area? Being at mom's is not bad. Sounds like he might rather to be the only dog. He gets all the attention that way.


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Can you hire a dog walker on bad weather days, or if your mom can't watch your pup?

My pup was in daycare, but it was very expensive, made me late for work every day and it was chaos when I'd pick my puppy up, she'd be so excited to see me. She also had a couple of injuries, which I don't think can be avoided with a ball of energy like her and being with so many dogs. They had too many dogs for the small space, IMO too.

I hired a dog walker. It doesn't tire her out as much, but gives her a bathroom break partway through the day.

Another possibility too is I think with a big, high energy breed like a GSD, they can really be a handful and some people don't know how best to handle them. It's possible they are getting a bit heavy handed if they ever feel they need to discipline your dog.

But whatever it is, I'd take your dog out of there, it's not worth the risk. Bear obviously isn't happy to go there, so I think it's time to start looking at other alternatives.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I agree I should try a new place and see how it goes but I don't think thats the only problem. He barks at people on walks and at the pet store. No one can approach him to pet him without him barking and growling. The breeder I got him from is surprised he acts that way as his mom and dad are really laid back. I just don't want a large aggressive dog. I called the daycare a little while ago to see how he was doing and they cant even take him out of his kennel cuz he growls and shows his teeth. I hope he snaps out of it soon...

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I really think you should work with a trainer on this. He's not going to snap out of it, you need to work on it.

Maybe some dog savvy people can help you with his socializing. Brings some high value treats and let them feed him type of thing?

I'd get an experienced handler helping you ASAP. When you're out, you might consider using a basket muzzle to be safe. I've had a couple of kids run squealing up to my pup when she was little and it scared her. Despite her shying away, they kept coming at her, I had to pick her up. Don't count on a little kid being able to read his body language, be proactive in maintaining safety for all.

Good luck!
 

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He won't magically change. His behaviour on walks, and now his behaviour at daycare show that he is reactive and insecure. That is his core temperament, one he was born with, and you will have to pro-actively work with him to build his confidence. It is unfair to ask the daycare staff to handle him and to be responsible for his well-being if they cannot approach him and handle him.

8 hrs at home is not too long. Most dogs stay home, in a crate, kennel, or loose in the house during the day when the owners are at work, and they are just fine. He may relax and start being more mellow if he is not being put in a situation where he feels insecure on a daily basis, like daycare.

A dog like this needs to know that his owner will be there for him, will protect him and keep him safe. With lots of work and guidance, he will grow to have confidence in that belief, but it will take lots of positive socialization and training. The positive socialization and training is only positive and confidence building if the experience is positive TO him. If he is in any situation where he is acting out by barking and growling, that is telling you that he is past the stimulii and environment that he can handle, and the situation is feeding his insecurity, and adding to the distrust and fear that he already has. Also, don't correct him for growling, you need the warning signs and want to keep that communication open. Instead, reward him when he does NOT react, so lots of treats and praise for just looking at something and being neutral about it.

Best thing for him is to take him out of daycare, keep him home. Spend lots of time doing fun, confidence building activities. I can almost guarantee that things will only get worse if the situation, as it is, does not change.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
But how do u build his confidence when he reacts negative to almost every situation? If hes barking while at the pet store then its a negative experience for him so how do I make it positive? As far as strangers giving him treats I've tried that sometimes he takes it most of the time he will take the treat but then drop it

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You start slow and easy. Don't go to places where he feels cornered and trapped. Be very selective on where you take him. Out to a park that is not crowded, and you can walk him away from other people and dogs. Lots of praise and treats for just watching people at a distance without reacting. Make him go through obedience routines: they serve to get his focus on you, and for you to take on a leadership role.

Then gradually, over time, you can move closer to the scary distractions. Show him you are in control by having control: obedience routines, short tug sessions and treats, back to obedience, etc. Walking at heel with attention on you, just a few steps at first, then more and more. Always stop when he is doing well and the session was all positive, and so on.

Sign up for obedience classes, get some help and direction from trainers. Implement NILIF (Nothing in life is Free) - it gives your dog predictable structure and at the same time reinforces your leader status with just every-day little routine things.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Breeder is telling me she thinks he is going through a fear stage and will likely come out of it. She said some young males go through this stage and usually snap out of it.

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How old is he? It would be a fear stage if your previously outgoing, confident, friendly, love new-places and love everyone dog suddenly started reacting the way you describe, but from his behaviour from day one at the daycare, and from the way he reacts to strangers approaching at the pet store and out on walks, that is not a stage. That is how he is.

He doesn't have to go to daycare and love everyone. Not all dogs are social and outgoing. Perfectly fine to say "He isn't good with strangers" and leave him at home during the day.

Even if going through a fear stage, don't set him up for failure - go back a few steps, and get people to help you with treats for positive socialization experiences. Or even just walking on leash without reacting to people (have people ignore him, not approach him), gets praise and treats from you.
 
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