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My dog is so scared of everything

Posted By: jeasy02

My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 07:00 PM

Ok so I have a big issue and I don't know what caused or is the cause of this. My dog is afraid of EVERYTHING - from cars, to the hamper rolling on the floor, to the sound of a trash bag, to EVERYTHING and I want to break that so bad. Any suggestions?

Also, the other thing that is really just not good is that he gets so excited when we come home after work. I have heard they have serious separation anxiety but when we get in the house he jumps all over us and he is just out of control for like 5 mins and it's bad - any suggestions on that? thanks
Posted By: Vinnie

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 07:34 PM

First a few questions for you - how old is your dog? How much and what kind of socialization have you done? How much and what kind of training have you done?
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 07:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Vinnie
First a few questions for you - how old is your dog? How much and what kind of socialization have you done? How much and what kind of training have you done?


My dog is 20 months. In my opinion he gets socialized a lot. We take him to the dog park every weekend faithfully and we exercise and walk him on a daily basis, he is always running into all sorts of moving objects and people and other dogs. As far as training, I won't lie we have not done any formal training. But we think with what we have done so far we have done well. We are now going to be putting him into formal training classes beginning next month. But he does know the basic commands, sit, stay, down. But sometimes he wont react right away.
Posted By: Woodreb

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 09:07 PM

For the jumping up on you when you get home - Caleb has done the same thing to me, even though my DH is home all day. The best thing to do is cross your arms and turn away from him. At first he may keep jumping, but what you want to do is to remain calm and have absolutely no interaction with him until he calms down and keeps all 4 feet on the floor. then and only then can he get some calm attention, maybe a quiet pet or a cookie for good behavior (best thing with Caleb is the cookie). It may take a while, but I've found that this approach works well.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 09:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Woodreb
For the jumping up on you when you get home - Caleb has done the same thing to me, even though my DH is home all day. The best thing to do is cross your arms and turn away from him. At first he may keep jumping, but what you want to do is to remain calm and have absolutely no interaction with him until he calms down and keeps all 4 feet on the floor. then and only then can he get some calm attention, maybe a quiet pet or a cookie for good behavior (best thing with Caleb is the cookie). It may take a while, but I've found that this approach works well.


Thank you - I usually do not pay him any mind when he is all over the place. I will continue to do that - thank you
Posted By: Kayos

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 09:33 PM

Taking that a step further, can you train him to go grab a toy? If his mouth and brain are engaged he may forget to jump.

If you have been ignoring him for this as Johanna suggests for a very long time without improvement something is going on. Most dogs pick up pretty quickly that the rules have changed and learn to comply to get what they want which is your attention.

I do see that you said 'USUALLY do not pay him any mind' tho and that may be the problem. What you may have inadvertently done is put him on a variable reward schedule for jumping on you. A variable reward schedule just means that in his doggy brain you have rewarded him by paying attention (any kind -positive or negative) off and on, so therefore the behavior continues. Any behavior that is rewarded off and on (or variable) is a very entrenched behavior and generally very hard to stop and extinguishes (goes away) slowly.

When we reward off and on we are playing the slot machine and we keep playing hoping for the jackpot. That is what the dog is doing, he contiunes to jump hoping to get a jackpot THAT HE KNOWS WILL COME SOON.

To be successful here you must immediately stop rewarding any jumping ANY JUMPING!!! NO REWARD EVER!!! (Not just usually.) That means everyone in the house all the time.

I would train him to get a toy as noted above or train him to an incompatible behavior. ie pre-empt him and tell him to sit before he jumps. No attention until he is calmy sitting. No attention means no eye contact, no touching, no talking, no yelling NOTHING!!!! If you have to steop back outside to avoid interacting with him.

Just a note, a behavior that has been hightly rewarded and all of sudden stops being rewarded, WILL get worse for awhile. This is called an extinction burst and it will go away if you tough it out and do not give into the dog. What the dog is trying to do is figure out why his behavior is no longer getting him what he wants so he increases the bahavior hoping for the slot machine to pay off.

Good luck.

I might also not consider a second dog until this one is more mature adn better trained. Otherwise you will have double the trouble.
Posted By: Vinnie

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 10:03 PM

Originally Posted By: jeasy02
But he does know the basic commands, sit, stay, down. But sometimes he wont react right away.


smile My mother always use to say slow obedience is no obedience. Your dog either does not fully understand the command and is just guessing at what you want him to do or he is resisting obeying your command.

So to help with the jumping issue I would start by working on his obedience.

True separation anxiety is not as common as many people make it out to be. Some times what people mistake for separation anxiety is actually a learned behavior. As the others have said, ignore the dog when he is jumping all around. This is where a crate can come in real handy. Do you own a crate?

IMO - You need to work on his training.

The fear thing is hard to answer - what is your dog doing that makes you think he is fearful of everything? What are you doing to try to solve this?
Posted By: PositiveDog

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/10/12 10:17 PM

Also - what breed is your dog? Sometimes it helps to know that. I saw another post that you planning to add a GSD and it would be your first (?)
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 02:21 AM

i am glad you come back here from time to time. i know that if you keep the same hours as you did in your earlier posts it must make it very hard to train your dog the way you wanted. you mentioned that you were doing agility at one time. then when you wanted a schutzhund dog, i just assumed you were going to start Bruschi in it too. have your trainers been helping you in this ongoing OB problem?
Posted By: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 02:27 AM

You need to really evaluate what is going on with your current dog before adding another. It may help or hurt your current dog when you add a puppy to the pack.

Are you prepared for your current dog possibly being terrified of the puppy or afraid of the puppy and may possibly hurt him/her.

Bringing a puppy into a house with a fearful dog can some times create problems.
1. The pup will look up to your current dog and mimic his behavior.
2. The current dog may be fear aggressive towards the pup and hurt the pup.
3. Are you prepared to raise the pup independent of the current dog. Separate area's, separate training?

Having two dogs can be good or can be bad. I had to separate Cheyenne and DeeDee because of DeeDee's nerve problems, Cheyenne had no tolerance for DeeDee's weaknesses. I also kept her exposure to Lakota to a minimum when he was a young pup. When he was a year and a half her could deal with her issues without them becoming his issues. But I was never able to have Cheyenne and DeeDee together.

So I have seen both sides, the good and the bad. You just need to be prepared to deal with the bad if it happens.
Posted By: PositiveDog

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 02:32 AM

Just back to say I read the other post wrong and now realize your current dog is a GSD.

My 2c is that it would better to resolve your dog's fear issues before even considering adding another dog to the mix. Although it could work out, others have given you good information on what might be in store for you if it does not.

I would want to build some confidence first dog. Does your trainer have any ideas to help with that?
Posted By: AllMyShepherds

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 03:05 PM

It's not uncommon for GSDs to go through fear phases, usually during adolescence. A behaviorist where I used to take Layla to doggy day care suggested that when she showed fear around various objects, to simply make light of the object by using high pitched phrases such as, "Oh! How silly!" Rather than force the dog near an object they fear, just do the "How silly!" thing and saunter away. Dont' pet (or reward or comfort) the dog for showing fear, but don't force the dog toward a feared object, either.

I agree that formal classes will probably help.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 05:03 PM

Hi -

Sorry for not responding yesterday as it was so hectic at work and then by the time I got home I was so exhausted.

But thank you so much for all of your responses. I definitely agree that I should have my Bruschi under control before adding another pup, I totally agree with that 100%. And for that reason alone I think we may wait a little bit longer until after he has finished his training classes.

As far as the jumping, I should rephrase that. he does not jump on me when I come into the house after not seeing him all day, he is just hyper and runs all over the place. But my wife has been keeping him at bay by making him sit for awhile until he is calm. I do like the the idea of making his mind go elsewhere by having him fetch something or get something so he can take his mind off of us for a second.

I will definitely get his training going on. He does sit when I say sit but maybe not in all situations. Like if he is hyper or if he is at a dog park he may not sit when I say it the first time but when I say it the second time he does it.

But thank you and I agree that I should wait. I guess I am so eager in getting him a friend that I forget that I need to make sure he is fully disciplined 100% before adding another to the house. Because the last thing I need is to have the new puppy pick up his traits and if he is not compliant at all times then that will be double trouble and hard to train both.

Thank you!
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 05:06 PM

Oh to answer the fear question -

A few weeks ago during New Years one of my neighbors friends was walking to my house by mistake because he was drunk. I was getting ready to walk my dog and we were standing on the steps and Bruschi saw him. He then lunged forward and started barking at him. So I think he will be protective of the house if need be. But if we are walking down the street for example and a car is driving by he will pretty much hide behind me or have that scared look. If he is laying down on his bed and if I have my clothes hamper right next to him and I go to move it, he will jump and run away. If I am opening a trash bag he will go running away. So I don't get it. I hear GSD's are naturally cautious dogs as all dogs should be.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 05:10 PM

And one last thing - I know this is going to sound really bad and I may receive some heat for this and I'll take it but one of the reasons why I didn't go through the formal training is because his ears are not erect like most GSD's. This is my first GSD and dog period and to not have his ears go up it was kind of discouraging. And I just didn't really take the initiative to go through the training and other things the proper way. I got tired of people asking me is he purebred, is he mixed, and I just had that "I don't care attitude." And people say you have to log your dog for who they are and so on and I do. Trust me I love my Bruschi to death and he is my boy. But it's hard sometimes looking at him when his ears are to the side like an airplane. I remember someone from this forum they said their dog's ears didn't go up until 4 years. So I am still hopeful! smile But Yes I know it's wrong to think like that and sometimes I can't help it. But he is still my boy no matter what
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 05:34 PM

sorry, but that is a silly reason not to TRAIN your dog. i agree, ears not erect on a purebred is hard to explain to others, but i think you are seeing the reprecussions of not doing formal training.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 05:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Schnickle Fritz
sorry, but that is a silly reason not to TRAIN your dog. i agree, ears not erect on a purebred is hard to explain to others, but i think you are seeing the reprecussions of not doing formal training.


Oh absolutely I definitely agree it is a silly reason not to train. It was not just the ears, but the ears played a big part. Because I felt as though I don't have a true GSD and he doesn't look a certain way and this and that. So while all of that was in my head I was just unmotivated to do any formal training. But again I am seeing a different light now especially since I want to get a new puppy and I am seeing the reprocussions. Overall he is a good dog and he listens but you can definitley tell he needs that formal training.
Posted By: Barb E

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 05:53 PM

And I'm going to throw this out for you to think about - what if down the road it is the right time to add a second dog to your family and that dog's ears don't stand either?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I think it really important that you realize that there are no guarantees that and pups ears will stand.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 05:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Barb E
And I'm going to throw this out for you to think about - what if down the road it is the right time to add a second dog to your family and that dog's ears don't stand either?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I think it really important that you realize that there are no guarantees that and pups ears will stand.


That is true and we thought about that. There is no guarantee as you state that the ears will go up. But the only guarantee that we will have is if the ears are already up by the time we pick up the puppy. It may not be until 3 or 4 months but if they are up then we will know for sure. If we pick up the puppy around 8 weeks or 12 and either one is up or if they are both half way up, while it is still no guarantee it is a good chance at that point they will go up. Again no guarantee unless I see both ears already erect by the time I pick him/her up.
Posted By: Barb E

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 06:10 PM

So you give the breeder a deposit of hundreds of dollars and then go to pick up the pup and the ears are down, you're going to just walk away and leave those hundreds of dollars behind?
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 06:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Barb E
So you give the breeder a deposit of hundreds of dollars and then go to pick up the pup and the ears are down, you're going to just walk away and leave those hundreds of dollars behind?



I am not sure what I would do in that situation. Of course it is a risk either way because yes I would be giving a deposit. I did speak with one breeder and she said that you can transfer deposits from one litter to a later litter if I wanted to. But I do see what you are saying and again it is a risk. But IF for some reason I am not able to get my deposit back, and the pup I want does not have his ears up, I would rather lose the money and start at another litter. Is that the right thing to do? In my personal honest opinion, especially already having gone through what I have gone through emotionally, yes it is. now that may not be right for you or for anyone else, but for me, I would rather wait until I see for sure rather than going through the hopes and chances and dreams that it will go up. It was a bad feeling and a rough time and I personally would not want to have two dogs with both ears down. For people who have not owned GSD's with their ears not up, it's easier for them to say "Just love your dog for who they are" and so forth. People who have owned GSD's with their ears down, they can relate, not saying you personally, but it's just tough.
Posted By: Kris

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 06:30 PM

Oh my gosh - really? Not being antagonistic, but I just don't get the ear thing. That is really all in your head!! wink Your boy is a GSD no matter the state of his ears and not taking him to training - you're just doing him an injustice. Sure glad my husband of many, many years doesn't refuse to take me somewhere because I no longer look the way I did when we got married! rofl

One of my favorite dogs on this forum is Bianca's Molly - and it's because her ears are soft. My first GSD developed a hematoma in his ear and it had to be drained. His ear never looked right again - he had "cauliflower" ear. If possible, I actually loved him more because of that. He had his own look! I dealt with virtually the same problem. People knew he was a GSD, but I always had to answer the question of what was wrong with his ear, but that really didn't bother me in the least.

I hope you can get past your hangup with the ears....for Bruschi's sake... You should be proud of him, not ashamed or embarrassed of him because of something cosmetic.
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 06:37 PM

look ... i cant get past "I felt as though I don't have a true GSD" so i didnt feel like training...umm many people train dogs that are not GSDs. you do not need a new dog, you definately do NOT need another GSD. i have read all your past posts. as i hope others have, too, so they know exactly what you have done, have not done, said you would do with Bruschi and dont go repeating themselves with thier advice to you. there has been very good advice given here and previously. you have people who are truely concerned with your predicement. i hope something clicks this visit and you will be able take away something to help you.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 06:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Kris
Oh my gosh - really? Not being antagonistic, but I just don't get the ear thing. That is really all in your head!! wink Your boy is a GSD no matter the state of his ears and not taking him to training - you're just doing him an injustice. Sure glad my husband of many, many years doesn't refuse to take me somewhere because I no longer look the way I did when we got married! rofl

One of my favorite dogs on this forum is Bianca's Molly - and it's because her ears are soft. My first GSD developed a hematoma in his ear and it had to be drained. His ear never looked right again - he had "cauliflower" ear. If possible, I actually loved him more because of that. He had his own look! I dealt with virtually the same problem. People knew he was a GSD, but I always had to answer the question of what was wrong with his ear, but that really didn't bother me in the least.

I hope you can get past your hangup with the ears....for Bruschi's sake... You should be proud of him, not ashamed or embarrassed of him because of something cosmetic.


It was in my head. Now I don't think about it as much. Sometimes I may make comments to the affect of "I wish his ears were up." In the beginning I was trying so hard to get them up, from tape, to glue, to thinking of getting them surgically done to be erect. But now I do love him for who he is, but always still have the thought of "I hope his ears go up one day." If I had a GSD before Bruschi maybe I would not have felt the way I did. But since this is my first dog, and a GSD, and every GSD that I have ever seen had erect ears, I expected the same.

I am definitely not ashamed or embarrassed of him in any way. It was my own fault for not getting him into the training because of that, or at least being part of the reason. I am much better than I was before, trust me.

And I am sure you still look beautiful as the day you got married - your husband is a lucky man smile
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 07:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Schnickle Fritz
look ... i cant get past "I felt as though I don't have a true GSD" so i didnt feel like training...umm many people train dogs that are not GSDs. you do not need a new dog, you definately do NOT need another GSD. i have read all your past posts. as i hope others have, too, so they know exactly what you have done, have not done, said you would do with Bruschi and dont go repeating themselves with thier advice to you. there has been very good advice given here and previously. you have people who are truely concerned with your predicement. i hope something clicks this visit and you will be able take away something to help you.


Well let me say this - everyone has given me their own opinion on what they would do and what not to do and what I should do and what I should not do. Some people have said having two dogs is the best thing in the world some people say it isn't. I have received many PM's and basically said the same thing in the post. I could get another puppy tomorrow and the next thing you know my current dog may all of a sudden be a totally different dog in a good way. I could wait until another year or two or even three and I have taken everyone's advice on ensuring he is fully trained, obedient, making sure all of the house rules are in tact, he is not jumping and such, and bring in a new puppy and it be a total disaster. bruschi not get along with him and then it be a nightmare, but he got along with other puppies.

I guess what I am trying to say is I do not know what will happen unless it actually happens and I get another one. But one thing I will say is I do agree fully that he should be at least formally disciplines before I bring another puppy in the house. I may bring him to the classes for the next 2 or 3 months and he may be a totally different dog, fully obedient, on command every single time. Or it could take another year or two.

Just like in the gym - I am an avid bodybuilder/powerlifter and people come up to me all of the time asking for advice for various things (how to get big, how to increase their bench press, etc). And when I was younger I would give them all sorts of advice and months later they would come back and tell me it did not work for them. Now when someone ask the same question I tell them what worked for me may not work for them. And for all of these years of weight-lifting it's all about trial and error. So in the case of my current situation in the end I can receive all of the advice in the world but it's all about trial and error. Again not saying that I will not take advice because that would be a naive thing to do. But the point would be in the end it is all about trial and error.
Posted By: Vinnie

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 07:21 PM

I'm at work right now so I don't have time to address this heavily so I'll just leave you with a picture (1000 words) of one of the best purebred GSDs to ever walk into my life.


PICT0093 by BlackDogsPhoto, on Flickr

He went to formal obedience training classes beginning at 12 weeks of age, has been trained in tracking and also passed his CGC test. He is the 2nd dog from the left in the banner above (top row).

We are going on 12 years together. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn't care what I look like or if I took a shower today.

I couldn't be more blessed or honored to call him MY dog! I am VERY proud of him.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 07:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Vinnie
I'm at work right now so I don't have time to address this heavily so I'll just leave you with a picture (1000 words) of one of the best purebred GSDs to ever walk into my life.


PICT0093 by BlackDogsPhoto, on Flickr

He went to formal obedience training classes beginning at 12 weeks of age, has been trained in tracking and also passed his CGC test. He is the 2nd dog from the left in the banner above (top row).

We are going on 12 years together. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn't care what I look like or if I took a shower today.


And you have a great looking dog - very beautiful and I understand what you mean
Posted By: BowWowMeow

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/11/12 09:37 PM

Below is a picture of my Massie. She was my first dog and started my passion for gsds and for rescuing. She really was amazing and I loved her ears because they made her unique. She was a TON of work (very smart) but so worth it.

Given your current dog's issues, I would seriously consider adopting a very stable 4-5 year old. That will help your current dog and also be easier to transition into your household.

Posted By: DarkEyes

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/12/12 12:49 PM

Hi there! I have a few suggestions if your head has room fore more. There seems to be a lot discussed in here already! confused2

First of all, I understand the floppy ears thing. This is not a feature often seen in German Shepherds and those who don't know are going to ask you about your dog's breeding.
Your dog's ears have a weakness in ear cartilage, so it's not going to erect. I have heard of ways to help erect the ears at a certain age, but there's a very small gap of time to do this and has to be done during the puppy stages and it doesnt' always work (according to research I've done a long time ago). This might be a genetic thing, and sometimes it may be caused by a missing gene that causes the ears to be soft instead of erect.

If you want that perfect, noble image of a German Shepherd, you're never going to get it. You'll be so focused on perfection that you'll really miss out on the potential your current dog has to give you.

Now, onto the behavior and training!
Fear! Every one of us have a dog that deals with fear. They may choose to be aggresive toward it or choose to coward from it. I only know how to deal with agression from fear, not hiding, so I can't really help you there. Do your research, there are so many resources all over the internet about dealing with hiding from fear.

What I can say about fear is it can be minimized with training. When you have complete control over a dog, that dog will be more focused on you than anything else. He will listen to you, waiting for your next command. So training is quite essential to the management of fear. You don't have to send your dog off for formal training, but if you're not willing to put in the time for the training, then it's ok to send him to training. The reason I said this is because I put in a lot of time training my high energy hyper dog. My main reason for the training was to keep her from being aggressive toward anyone that steps foot into our property. I now have complete control over my dog and I don't even need a leash! People always ask me where I sent her for training, very impressed with her obedience, and I always say with shining pride "She was not trained by a trainer, I trained her and it was a lot of work".

About separation anxiety, do you think your dog has it? If so, why?
Dogs are always going to go nuts when we first get home. In fact, they'll go nuts after not seeing us for 5 minutes! That's the great thing about dogs, they live in the present and don't care what happened 5 minutes ago. Some dogs can be surrounded by toys all day and not really do anything until their owners are home, so they'll have all this energy saved up and ready to go when their owners get home. You can control the dog's hyperness by making him sit and stay. When he stops looking like he's going to burst out of his bubble and you can see him relaxing, then reward him by releasing him from the stay command and give him praise. As soon as he goes nuts and jumps all over the place, correct him by making him lay down and stay until he is relaxed. He will learn he can't jump all over the place anymore. He'll be hyper until you give him a toy to occupy himself with until you take him for his exercise.

I'm here for you as one first GS owner supporting another first GS owner. gsdbeggin My current GS is my first dog too, and she was a lot of work to understand and now she's a wonderful dog! She's almost 4 and her energy levels are still high!
Posted By: Kayos

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/12/12 02:27 PM

Nice post Dark Eyes!! Well written and helpful to the OP.

We all do have the image of the perfect GSD in our heads and if that expectation is not met it can be disappointing but we do have to move beyond that or we become mired in it and the relationship with the dog suffers.

Although my Havoc is gorgeous and has great ear set he is not the dog I hoped for either in terms of other things. It has been hard for me to move past some of the issues and see him as a great dog worthy of my time, attention and more importantly - love. I love hime to death, he is GREAT dog!!!

Kayos is a lovely dog and she too has not worked as I had hoped. She cannot do a lot of physical things that I had planned for her. I was crushed when I could not do agility with a dog I purchased specifically for agility. She is wonderful wonderful dog with a great talent for tracking and therapy. So she changed jobs and I got over it.

My first GSD was fearful and it came out as dog aggression. I had no idea how to fix that in 1990 when positive methods were "that book that Karen Pryor wrote and isn't she a dolphin trainer what does she know about dogs?" came out. No one use positive methods they used heavy compulsion and dogs suffered for it as it did nothing to help them get over fear.

Point I am making is every dog will be a little disappointing if they don't measure up to our expectations. The problem is not the dog, the problem is our expectations. The dog is perfect in who he or she is.

The fear stuff......

My Kayos did some of that cowering at loud noises, things that startled her and trucks driving by on the street while we were walking. She also lunged at dogs she passed and dogs in yards where the fence was pretty close to the street. She started this at about 6 months and it continued for about a year. Kayos was and continues to be well socialized. I do not think it was dog aggression, just being unsure at the stage of mental development she was in. However, not working on it may have may caused it to contiune and escalate and so is born dog aggression.

I have always trained my dogs and competed with them in many venues and I could not take a dog that lunged at other dogs or was so afraid of loud noises she shut down to a dog show. Not good. So we started to work on it at class and I set up opportunities with dogs in yards and in class where I could control distance. This post would be 5 pages long if I explained this thoroughly and I am at work so need to make it shorter. So I will just say there are many many great books on ths subject as well as many DVD's. Jean Donaldson, Pat McConnell, Trish King, and many otheres are great authors to go look at. DO SOME STUDYING ON THIS!!!!

Kayos is also one of those dogs that is very sensitive in her body. She still does not like it when something is dropped near her and creates a loud noise, she will jump and look like she is scared. But truthfully she is startled and recovers quickly. She still hates loud trucks rumbling by, she howls at sirens rofl I howl with her and we have a blast with it! rofl rofl2 I think this reaction is more of an inate instinct to protect herself not necessarily fear. I do not think she is an intrinsically fearful dog or if she is, I have covered it over with excellent training. She is a confident, outgoing dog, she is pushy, she is bitch! And I LOVE her for it. She is wonderful.

It is possible that Brushki (spelling?) is similar to Kayos in these reactions, teenage dog trying to figure out his world and there are some things that cuase him to startle. If he recovers well I would not worry about it, If he does not recover quickly, work with him at a distance comfortable for him and build his confidence.

So don't write this dog off, work on him, you owe him that and he will repay with as much loyalty and trust as any animal can give.

Go to training class with him, good for both of you! Good luck to you guys and I am happy you checked back again. Keep coming here you will learn lots!
Posted By: DancingCavy

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/12/12 03:03 PM

I, too, own a fearful dog. And she's a MUTT so no one has any expectations of her at all in regards to appearance or behavior.



Risa has gone through oodles of training. We did every class our trainer offered when we lived in Montana (so that was about 2 straight years of non-stop training in classes along with our day-to-day lives). I've taken classes with her since then though less frequently (higher level classes are harder to come by). We train with others whenever we can. I train with her every day even if it's just working on her dog reactivity on walks.

As I said, she is fearful. New places scare her. New people do too. And she's afraid of other dogs. I have spent the last 5+ years working on building up her confidence through positive reinforcement based training. Showing her that the world isn't scary. That everyone isn't out to get her. If you knew her when I brought her home from the shelter, you wouldn't even recognize her now.

I compete with her in rally trials, in lure coursing, and canine musical freestyle. If you saw her with me there, in those huge buildings filled with tons of strange dogs and people, you would not realize she has any issues at all. She's made an incredible transformation and is an amazing dog. Risa has always had this potential; she simply needed someone to realize it and help her show it off.

I think your best bet right now is to learn to really appreciate the dog you have. I have learned SO MUCH by struggling with Risa's problems and working with her to become the outstanding dog she is today. It has not been easy. There were days when I don't think either of us liked the other very much. But it has been so worth it. She's taught me more than I ever would have learned had our lives not been a bit of a struggle at the beginning.

Early on in our relationship, I wanted to add another dog to the family too. I thought it might help her become more confident. But, y'know, I'm glad I wasn't able to at the time. I wasn't ready. SHE wasn't ready. You really need to have a solid foundation and most of the training done on your current dog before you should consider adding a second. A second dog is even more work and, if your first dog isn't solid on training, you have 2-3x as much work as you did before and less time to do it.

Seriously reconsider adding a new dog at this time. Work with Bruschi and learn to appreciate him for who he is. Not what you thought he would be.
Posted By: GrandJan

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/12/12 03:09 PM

Great post, Kathy, and I think it's also important to remember that no dog magically comes into our lives as Rin Tin Tin or Lassie - exceptional looks and perfectly trained. They are the luck of the genes and it took someone a lot of hard work to train those dogs to do the things that entertained us.

Don't. give. up. You may not have the aesthetic dog that you pictured, but you can have the well-behaved beloved family member that you always dreamed of. And my bet is that he will also become the most beautiful dog you have ever seen in your heart too! smile
Posted By: DancingCavy

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/12/12 03:25 PM

(FWIW, Risa isn't what I wanted in a dog either. But you couldn't pry her away from me these days if you tried!)
Posted By: Mary Jane

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/12/12 04:53 PM

I guess we fall in love and then what others might consider flaws are insignificant compared to the profound affection and bond between person and dog. What is wonderful about person-dog love, as compared to person-person love, is you really can help a dog to change.

My dear Wolf was the most beautiful dog I have ever seen. He got compliments all the time, all the time about his appearance.
Unfortunately, he was also very fearful. After he bit a friendly neighbor and we recognized his fears, we began to do what inexperienced people could do to help him. Through a lot of desensitization, he was able to tolerate people-but his world was very small. We could have helped him more, I guess. I am sure he was happy in his small world.

For me, however, he was the perfect dog. He taught me about the world as it is, not as you imagine. He was always present for me.

So please give yourself a chance with Bruschi.

Mary Jane
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 01:43 AM

Originally Posted By: DarkEyes
Hi there! I have a few suggestions if your head has room fore more. There seems to be a lot discussed in here already! confused2

First of all, I understand the floppy ears thing. This is not a feature often seen in German Shepherds and those who don't know are going to ask you about your dog's breeding.
Your dog's ears have a weakness in ear cartilage, so it's not going to erect. I have heard of ways to help erect the ears at a certain age, but there's a very small gap of time to do this and has to be done during the puppy stages and it doesnt' always work (according to research I've done a long time ago). This might be a genetic thing, and sometimes it may be caused by a missing gene that causes the ears to be soft instead of erect.

If you want that perfect, noble image of a German Shepherd, you're never going to get it. You'll be so focused on perfection that you'll really miss out on the potential your current dog has to give you.

Now, onto the behavior and training!
Fear! Every one of us have a dog that deals with fear. They may choose to be aggresive toward it or choose to coward from it. I only know how to deal with agression from fear, not hiding, so I can't really help you there. Do your research, there are so many resources all over the internet about dealing with hiding from fear.

What I can say about fear is it can be minimized with training. When you have complete control over a dog, that dog will be more focused on you than anything else. He will listen to you, waiting for your next command. So training is quite essential to the management of fear. You don't have to send your dog off for formal training, but if you're not willing to put in the time for the training, then it's ok to send him to training. The reason I said this is because I put in a lot of time training my high energy hyper dog. My main reason for the training was to keep her from being aggressive toward anyone that steps foot into our property. I now have complete control over my dog and I don't even need a leash! People always ask me where I sent her for training, very impressed with her obedience, and I always say with shining pride "She was not trained by a trainer, I trained her and it was a lot of work".

About separation anxiety, do you think your dog has it? If so, why?
Dogs are always going to go nuts when we first get home. In fact, they'll go nuts after not seeing us for 5 minutes! That's the great thing about dogs, they live in the present and don't care what happened 5 minutes ago. Some dogs can be surrounded by toys all day and not really do anything until their owners are home, so they'll have all this energy saved up and ready to go when their owners get home. You can control the dog's hyperness by making him sit and stay. When he stops looking like he's going to burst out of his bubble and you can see him relaxing, then reward him by releasing him from the stay command and give him praise. As soon as he goes nuts and jumps all over the place, correct him by making him lay down and stay until he is relaxed. He will learn he can't jump all over the place anymore. He'll be hyper until you give him a toy to occupy himself with until you take him for his exercise.

I'm here for you as one first GS owner supporting another first GS owner. gsdbeggin My current GS is my first dog too, and she was a lot of work to understand and now she's a wonderful dog! She's almost 4 and her energy levels are still high!


Hi - thank you for your reply and it was very insightful.

I believe now I am realizing what I am missing out by not giving him the formal training he needs. I was the ignorant one for not putting him into formal training because party of his ears. It was wrong and I admit it and now I cannot dwell on the past but move forward.

I guess it's not separation anxiety. I was pretty much going off of what someone else told me. As a first owner the only thing I can do is listen to what others tell me and go from there because I've never experienced it. But now that I am going through the motions, provided that I ever do get another dog then I'll know exactly what to do, of course after training. I think he is sometimes fear aggressive and sometimes he is a coward but I never know when it will happen, it just happens. It is frustrating sometimes but being at his age now I know it's not too late for the formal training, but I should have done it awhile ago and I am paying for it now.

The one thing I must say is that he is not out of control. He is not a hyper dog at all. He is more of a couch potato. I know I'm not going to get the perfect dog out of him and I have to live with that. That is another small part of a reason why I want to get another GSD to hopefully get the perfect image. The word "hopefully" is a big one, but we'll see

Thanks again!
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 01:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Kayos
Nice post Dark Eyes!! Well written and helpful to the OP.

We all do have the image of the perfect GSD in our heads and if that expectation is not met it can be disappointing but we do have to move beyond that or we become mired in it and the relationship with the dog suffers.

Although my Havoc is gorgeous and has great ear set he is not the dog I hoped for either in terms of other things. It has been hard for me to move past some of the issues and see him as a great dog worthy of my time, attention and more importantly - love. I love hime to death, he is GREAT dog!!!

Kayos is a lovely dog and she too has not worked as I had hoped. She cannot do a lot of physical things that I had planned for her. I was crushed when I could not do agility with a dog I purchased specifically for agility. She is wonderful wonderful dog with a great talent for tracking and therapy. So she changed jobs and I got over it.

My first GSD was fearful and it came out as dog aggression. I had no idea how to fix that in 1990 when positive methods were "that book that Karen Pryor wrote and isn't she a dolphin trainer what does she know about dogs?" came out. No one use positive methods they used heavy compulsion and dogs suffered for it as it did nothing to help them get over fear.

Point I am making is every dog will be a little disappointing if they don't measure up to our expectations. The problem is not the dog, the problem is our expectations. The dog is perfect in who he or she is.

The fear stuff......

My Kayos did some of that cowering at loud noises, things that startled her and trucks driving by on the street while we were walking. She also lunged at dogs she passed and dogs in yards where the fence was pretty close to the street. She started this at about 6 months and it continued for about a year. Kayos was and continues to be well socialized. I do not think it was dog aggression, just being unsure at the stage of mental development she was in. However, not working on it may have may caused it to contiune and escalate and so is born dog aggression.

I have always trained my dogs and competed with them in many venues and I could not take a dog that lunged at other dogs or was so afraid of loud noises she shut down to a dog show. Not good. So we started to work on it at class and I set up opportunities with dogs in yards and in class where I could control distance. This post would be 5 pages long if I explained this thoroughly and I am at work so need to make it shorter. So I will just say there are many many great books on ths subject as well as many DVD's. Jean Donaldson, Pat McConnell, Trish King, and many otheres are great authors to go look at. DO SOME STUDYING ON THIS!!!!

Kayos is also one of those dogs that is very sensitive in her body. She still does not like it when something is dropped near her and creates a loud noise, she will jump and look like she is scared. But truthfully she is startled and recovers quickly. She still hates loud trucks rumbling by, she howls at sirens rofl I howl with her and we have a blast with it! rofl rofl2 I think this reaction is more of an inate instinct to protect herself not necessarily fear. I do not think she is an intrinsically fearful dog or if she is, I have covered it over with excellent training. She is a confident, outgoing dog, she is pushy, she is bitch! And I LOVE her for it. She is wonderful.

It is possible that Brushki (spelling?) is similar to Kayos in these reactions, teenage dog trying to figure out his world and there are some things that cuase him to startle. If he recovers well I would not worry about it, If he does not recover quickly, work with him at a distance comfortable for him and build his confidence.

So don't write this dog off, work on him, you owe him that and he will repay with as much loyalty and trust as any animal can give.

Go to training class with him, good for both of you! Good luck to you guys and I am happy you checked back again. Keep coming here you will learn lots!


Thank you very much I greatly appreciate the advice. I am a big talker (and writer) and would love to reply to this in a more detailed email but I have to go and feed my daughter - always hungry!

But seriously thank you. I do understand I have to fully work with my current dog with all of his issues that he has. Overall he is a great dog and I love him unconditionally.

I do agree with you that my next dog or any dog will not be the perfect dog. There will always be flaws and you are right that is something I have to accept. The ears thing really did, and still does from time to time but not like before, bother me. But again, there is nothing I can do about it and just move forward.

Again thanks and I will keep you posted!

I love the howling with yours - I might try that also
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 01:52 AM

Originally Posted By: DancingCavy
I, too, own a fearful dog. And she's a MUTT so no one has any expectations of her at all in regards to appearance or behavior.



Risa has gone through oodles of training. We did every class our trainer offered when we lived in Montana (so that was about 2 straight years of non-stop training in classes along with our day-to-day lives). I've taken classes with her since then though less frequently (higher level classes are harder to come by). We train with others whenever we can. I train with her every day even if it's just working on her dog reactivity on walks.

As I said, she is fearful. New places scare her. New people do too. And she's afraid of other dogs. I have spent the last 5+ years working on building up her confidence through positive reinforcement based training. Showing her that the world isn't scary. That everyone isn't out to get her. If you knew her when I brought her home from the shelter, you wouldn't even recognize her now.

I compete with her in rally trials, in lure coursing, and canine musical freestyle. If you saw her with me there, in those huge buildings filled with tons of strange dogs and people, you would not realize she has any issues at all. She's made an incredible transformation and is an amazing dog. Risa has always had this potential; she simply needed someone to realize it and help her show it off.

I think your best bet right now is to learn to really appreciate the dog you have. I have learned SO MUCH by struggling with Risa's problems and working with her to become the outstanding dog she is today. It has not been easy. There were days when I don't think either of us liked the other very much. But it has been so worth it. She's taught me more than I ever would have learned had our lives not been a bit of a struggle at the beginning.

Early on in our relationship, I wanted to add another dog to the family too. I thought it might help her become more confident. But, y'know, I'm glad I wasn't able to at the time. I wasn't ready. SHE wasn't ready. You really need to have a solid foundation and most of the training done on your current dog before you should consider adding a second. A second dog is even more work and, if your first dog isn't solid on training, you have 2-3x as much work as you did before and less time to do it.

Seriously reconsider adding a new dog at this time. Work with Bruschi and learn to appreciate him for who he is. Not what you thought he would be.


Oh absolutely I am going to wait until my Bruschi is well trained. I even spoke with a trainer the other day who will be training him and he said the same thing. He said it would be devastating if I brought a puppy in now while Bruschi is not 100% trained - so I am definitely going to take that path - thank you
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 01:53 AM

Originally Posted By: GrandJan
Great post, Kathy, and I think it's also important to remember that no dog magically comes into our lives as Rin Tin Tin or Lassie - exceptional looks and perfectly trained. They are the luck of the genes and it took someone a lot of hard work to train those dogs to do the things that entertained us.

Don't. give. up. You may not have the aesthetic dog that you pictured, but you can have the well-behaved beloved family member that you always dreamed of. And my bet is that he will also become the most beautiful dog you have ever seen in your heart too! smile


Thank you - he is handsome just like his daddy! smile

But yes thank you for that.

I love this forum makes me happy!
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 01:59 AM

Quote:
I even spoke with a trainer the other day who will be training him


you MUST go YOUR dog the training to be effective. your trainer will be trainin gyou to train the dog! no matter how good a trainer is, if you do not know what to do once the dog comes home, the dog reverts back to his previous habits because there is no one to reenforce the desired behaviour. i find training FUN. i hope you do , too!
Posted By: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 02:07 AM

I agree with Schnickle Fritz, you have to train together. I have had people ask me to train their dog for them and I said I don't feel that it is a good method of training. I know hunting people do it but the dogs are mostly trained to respond to a whistle, so they really don't care who is blowing the whistle.

If your dog is afraid, you need to work with the trainer, you need to become the leader that your dog is possibly missing. Most dogs really don't want to be the leader and in charge (some do), but most would rather have a leader because it takes the stress off of them. They like just following orders/routines and knowing that their human has things in charge. See that is a lot nicer for a dog than, Oh I am not sure my human can handle this dog heading in our direction, I must step up and try to scare the dog off.
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 02:48 AM

i know you have mentioned you wanted the dog for protection. just bbecause you become the leader does NOT MEAN IN ANY WAY that your dog will not protect you. when he is mature, you will find he will have your back (and your wife's and beautiful daughters, too!) in situations when he is needed .
Posted By: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 04:15 AM

Schnickle Fritz, a dog that is afraid of every thing as the OP stated is not a dog that I would want protecting me. But in a way they do have their own value as a deterrent, more people were afraid of my DeeDee (rip) when she was on her home turf than Lakota (rip) or Cheyenne who I know would protect me. DeeDee was all bark bark, I will scare you off before you get to close. That can be a good deterrent.

Raya is my alerter, she is very alert to noises, she can tell me when a vehicle pulls off the road and into our driveway and never see them. But the cats can play on the deck and she never makes a peep.

So a deterrent in some cases can be just as good as a dog that isn't ready or capable of doing real protection.
Posted By: MaxaLisa

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/14/12 04:49 AM

I haven't gone back and read everything....

I "get" the thing about the ears. With Indy (non-GSD), it was the opposite, I was really bummed when one went up, because I really like her ears down.

The training thing, I thing, I think that's been covered. I also agree, as a general rule, you need to train with your dog, and not send your dog to training. HOWEVER, I think it's MORE important for a dog that is afraid.

First, I don't trust people with my dogs. I have seen very bad things happen when dogs have been sent away to training. It might not be terrible, but what you can't see, you can't control.

Second, assuming everything is perfect with the trainer that you have chosen, for a dog that has fears, all the reasons that folks mentioned above hold, but even moreso. Training *with your dog* will develop the trust that your needs to have you in you so that the dog can start letting go of that fear.

For a fearful dog, I would make sure you are not feeding a food with corn or sorghum or by-products, would add some fish oil if it's tolerated, would go on the most minimum vaccination schedule that you can get away with, would watch for tick diseases and for future signs of hypothyroidism.
Posted By: DarkEyes

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/15/12 01:07 AM

I agree that training with the dog would be beneficial to the relationship as dog following leader... however, I think being present and watching and just participating works too, though I might be wrong. The reason I said this is because I was the one who trained my dog... but no matter the fact that I did the raising, the exercises, the training... she will respond to my husband over me. She'll do what he says instead of listening to me... why, I don't know. Maybe it's because she considered him the alpha in the pack before I started the training, or because he's got a deep voice and is bigger than me.

However, she's more relaxed with the hubby around, but really goes into guard dog mode when he's not around me. She's really more likely to attack someone when I am alone than she is with the husband around. Hence is why I worked hard on the sit stay mode and learned her body language and learned my own body language so I can ensure no unnnecessarying nipping/biting occurs.

With that in mind, I'd like to make a suggestion to you. When your dog goes into fear aggression... watch his body language. And pay attention to your own body image. If your shoulders tense up, making you appear bigger, he's going to take that as a defense mode. You're reacting to a threat, so he will react too. If your hand is clenching to the leash- that's tension. If the leach line is tight and not loose- that is also tension. Tension builds aggression and you'll need to learn how to make yourself relax. Take deep breaths. Dogs can read us like an open book if we're not careful about the image we are exhibiting. If you're worried about something that will trigger aggression, such as a dog coming close, remain calm. Talk to him, have him lay down. If you seem calm and not worried, that will help the dog calm down. He'll probably have his hair stick up, but that's ok. Calm him down and keep talking to him.
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/15/12 04:11 AM

Quote:
a dog that is afraid of every thing as the OP stated is not a dog that I would want protecting me.
a 20 ms old gsd in not mature...
Posted By: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/15/12 02:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Schnickle Fritz
Quote:
a dog that is afraid of every thing as the OP stated is not a dog that I would want protecting me.
a 20 ms old gsd in not mature...


At 6 months old you can get a pretty good gauge of the stability of a dog's nerve. At 24 - 36 months the dog isn't going become a more solid nerved dog. At 20 months old and afraid of everything IMHO is not a strong nerved dog. Training will benefit the OP and the dog, but you can't fix poor nerve. You can teach a dog under less amounts of pressure to respond a certain way, but when more pressure is applied the dog will always revert to genetics. This is why nervy dogs can be titled, trainers will spend day in and day out training the dog, raising the bar and training more. Inside the ring the dog is a super star outside the ring the dog is a nut bag.

Like I said learning to become a good leader will help, training will help, but as far as a protection dog, a dog that is fear aggressive (if that is what the OP's dog is) is a liability because under pressure he will always revert back to genetics.
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 03:37 AM

oddly i beleieve that thier are gsd lines that mature late. may or may not be the posters dog. i think that what you deem nervymay be immaturity
Posted By: GrandJan

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 04:01 AM

Im sorry if I missed this somewhere, but is the dog neutered? If so, and was at a young age I would also say this dog has not fully matured yet and some of his hyper-nervousness may smooth out over time. Constant calm leadership, firm discipline and dedicated training will go a long way toward settling this dog down.
Posted By: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 04:08 AM

I am not saying a 20 month old is fully mature, there is also that possible late fear period that happens. I think the OP and family would benefit from a good trainer.
Posted By: DarkEyes

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 04:37 PM

Originally Posted By: GrandJan
Im sorry if I missed this somewhere, but is the dog neutered? If so, and was at a young age I would also say this dog has not fully matured yet and some of his hyper-nervousness may smooth out over time. Constant calm leadership, firm discipline and dedicated training will go a long way toward settling this dog down.


headbang I forgot about the neutering part. I thought a dog tends to be more alert and reactive when not neutered? I know that neutering can curb a dog's behavior quite a bit...
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 05:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Schnickle Fritz
Quote:
I even spoke with a trainer the other day who will be training him


you MUST go YOUR dog the training to be effective. your trainer will be trainin gyou to train the dog! no matter how good a trainer is, if you do not know what to do once the dog comes home, the dog reverts back to his previous habits because there is no one to reenforce the desired behaviour. i find training FUN. i hope you do , too!


When I do training with him i do find it fun, especially when I am playing hide and seek with either treats or just one of his toys. he likes that!
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 05:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Schnickle Fritz
i know you have mentioned you wanted the dog for protection. just bbecause you become the leader does NOT MEAN IN ANY WAY that your dog will not protect you. when he is mature, you will find he will have your back (and your wife's and beautiful daughters, too!) in situations when he is needed .


That is what a lot of people say to as he matures his attitude will change and be more protective. I guess I was kind of waiting to see that at an early age. I do see some moments where his attutide is a lot different than when he was younger.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 05:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Wisc.Tiger_Val
Schnickle Fritz, a dog that is afraid of every thing as the OP stated is not a dog that I would want protecting me. But in a way they do have their own value as a deterrent, more people were afraid of my DeeDee (rip) when she was on her home turf than Lakota (rip) or Cheyenne who I know would protect me. DeeDee was all bark bark, I will scare you off before you get to close. That can be a good deterrent.

Raya is my alerter, she is very alert to noises, she can tell me when a vehicle pulls off the road and into our driveway and never see them. But the cats can play on the deck and she never makes a peep.

So a deterrent in some cases can be just as good as a dog that isn't ready or capable of doing real protection.



I agree - my dog is a great deterrent. He could be fast asleep but he knows when someone is coming close to my driveway and he will start off by growling and then will come the loud deep bark when he senses someone is coming up the walk path (like the pizza guy). The other day he was going nuts and I had to put him on the back porch.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 05:40 PM

Originally Posted By: MaxaLisa
I haven't gone back and read everything....

I "get" the thing about the ears. With Indy (non-GSD), it was the opposite, I was really bummed when one went up, because I really like her ears down.

The training thing, I thing, I think that's been covered. I also agree, as a general rule, you need to train with your dog, and not send your dog to training. HOWEVER, I think it's MORE important for a dog that is afraid.

First, I don't trust people with my dogs. I have seen very bad things happen when dogs have been sent away to training. It might not be terrible, but what you can't see, you can't control.

Second, assuming everything is perfect with the trainer that you have chosen, for a dog that has fears, all the reasons that folks mentioned above hold, but even moreso. Training *with your dog* will develop the trust that your needs to have you in you so that the dog can start letting go of that fear.

For a fearful dog, I would make sure you are not feeding a food with corn or sorghum or by-products, would add some fish oil if it's tolerated, would go on the most minimum vaccination schedule that you can get away with, would watch for tick diseases and for future signs of hypothyroidism.


Thank you -

I probably did not mention it right but I wouldn't be sending my dog away for training, both my wife and I would be training with him together. I would never just send him away for training. Some people do that but I couldn't. I do understand the importance of being with your dog when he is training.

The last comment you made about making sure I'm feeding my dog the right kind of foods, what does that have to do with being fearful - out of curiosity?
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 05:47 PM

Originally Posted By: DarkEyes


With that in mind, I'd like to make a suggestion to you. When your dog goes into fear aggression... watch his body language. And pay attention to your own body image. If your shoulders tense up, making you appear bigger, he's going to take that as a defense mode. You're reacting to a threat, so he will react too. If your hand is clenching to the leash- that's tension. If the leach line is tight and not loose- that is also tension. Tension builds aggression and you'll need to learn how to make yourself relax. Take deep breaths. Dogs can read us like an open book if we're not careful about the image we are exhibiting. If you're worried about something that will trigger aggression, such as a dog coming close, remain calm. Talk to him, have him lay down. If you seem calm and not worried, that will help the dog calm down. He'll probably have his hair stick up, but that's ok. Calm him down and keep talking to him.


You know that makes sense what you said. I read that somewhere but never put it into practice - thanks.

I should be more aware of what I'm doing during a particular situation than my dog.
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 05:51 PM

Originally Posted By: GrandJan
Im sorry if I missed this somewhere, but is the dog neutered? If so, and was at a young age I would also say this dog has not fully matured yet and some of his hyper-nervousness may smooth out over time. Constant calm leadership, firm discipline and dedicated training will go a long way toward settling this dog down.


Hi - no he is not neutered. I mean from the posts that I have read, within this one and others, he is not matured yet. But I do agree heavily that with training it may cure some of the problems he has.
Posted By: MaxaLisa

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 06:58 PM

Originally Posted By: jeasy02
...
I probably did not mention it right but I wouldn't be sending my dog away for training, both my wife and I would be training with him together. I would never just send him away for training. Some people do that but I couldn't. I do understand the importance of being with your dog when he is training.

The last comment you made about making sure I'm feeding my dog the right kind of foods, what does that have to do with being fearful - out of curiosity?


Oh yay, glad to hear that your wife will be trainig with him smile

Dogs can have funny reactions to foods. I know when I was training, hyper and unfocesed dogs often changed dramatically when we changed the food to one following the above guidelines. I also think that some of these underlying food sensitivies can affect behaviour. Say a dog is allergic to chicken. Say his stomach is always a bit queasy, or it gives him a headache. That dog really isn't going to be functioning at his best. Part of the nervous system lives in the gut. My old girl, with probiotics and l-glutamine (gut rehab) would be a different dog once she felt better. She was fearful most of her life, and it was vaccine induced frown

So, when you have a dog with any behaviour problem, taking care of the gut is really important. Many GSDs have such sensitive digestive systems, it might even be more important for a GSD?
Posted By: jeasy02

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: MaxaLisa
Originally Posted By: jeasy02
...
I probably did not mention it right but I wouldn't be sending my dog away for training, both my wife and I would be training with him together. I would never just send him away for training. Some people do that but I couldn't. I do understand the importance of being with your dog when he is training.

The last comment you made about making sure I'm feeding my dog the right kind of foods, what does that have to do with being fearful - out of curiosity?


Oh yay, glad to hear that your wife will be trainig with him smile

Dogs can have funny reactions to foods. I know when I was training, hyper and unfocesed dogs often changed dramatically when we changed the food to one following the above guidelines. I also think that some of these underlying food sensitivies can affect behaviour. Say a dog is allergic to chicken. Say his stomach is always a bit queasy, or it gives him a headache. That dog really isn't going to be functioning at his best. Part of the nervous system lives in the gut. My old girl, with probiotics and l-glutamine (gut rehab) would be a different dog once she felt better. She was fearful most of her life, and it was vaccine induced frown

So, when you have a dog with any behaviour problem, taking care of the gut is really important. Many GSDs have such sensitive digestive systems, it might even be more important for a GSD?


Oh yes she will be training with me definitely - she has no choice smile No she loves it to.

Yeah I never heard of that but I can see how it may relate though. Currently I feed my dog Nutro Max - Grain Free. I was feeding him Blue Buffalo and others before but he just didn't seem to like it. I tried the whole taking his food away but when I heard of this and how it was grain free and he actually likes it, I stayed with it. I switch between beef and chicken each time still within the same brand.

You know what's funny about food, my wife had a dog before our Bruschi and she fed him probably the worst food you can think of, from Stop & Shop and that dog lived for 16 years. So while I believe that the type of food is important it is still different from dog to dog I think.
Posted By: MaxaLisa

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 08:16 PM

GSDs are often very sensitive to food.

Nutro used to be a pretty reliable food, long ago. They sometimes seem to have quality issues - suddenly on the forums a number of dogs being fed Nutro will get sick, so just be on the watch for that - I think they have an issue with either qulity control, or food sourcing, that crops up from time to time.

When my dogs tolerated kibble, they could never tolerate the "fancier foods", simple, quality ingredients is what they needed. They really are very individual in their needs!
Posted By: PositiveDog

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/16/12 10:17 PM

Quote:
The other day he was going nuts and I had to put him on the back porch.


OK - but what did that teach him? Certainly not how to deal with whatever was causing him to 'go nuts.'

Instead, teach him what you do want in that situation. (I want my dogs to bark to alert me and 'quiet' when I acknowledge them and tell them "OK, I've got it."

Work to calm him, have him sit, watch you for direction, something - anything other than just shutting him away. Take every opportunity to train. The more intense he is, the more training is needed.

Slip a leash on him and work with him when he is this excited. Some of what you are seeing may be frustration. He doesn't know what to do and is not getting positive signals from you.

I am glad you will be going to training and working with him. As long as the training is positive it should do all of yo a world of good! thumbup
Posted By: shepnterrier

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/17/12 12:43 AM

Originally Posted By: jeasy02
This is my first GSD and dog period and to not have his ears go up it was kind of discouraging. And I just didn't really take the initiative to go through the training and other things the proper way. I got tired of people asking me is he purebred, is he mixed, and I just had that "I don't care attitude." ... But he is still my boy no matter what

People ask that as well if you have a black or a sable GSD! With my sable, each day several people blanched and asked me whether she was a wolf or a coyote (and it was not a compliment). Few people know that GSDs can come in other colors than black/tan and that sometimes GSDs have soft ears. I currently foster a black GSD, and people ask all the time whether she is pure bred, or what she is mixed with, or what kind of a dog she is. Most think she is a GSD/black lab cross even though her ears are up and her conformation is unambiguously GSD. My beautiful sable was also a correct size for a working dog female - 55 lbs, very agile. At one event, someone asked me whether she was a dwarf GSD! So what!

My Border Terrier's tail is curly - some people ask whether this feisty, wiry spitfire is 'part pug'. Now that gets me going wink Border terriers' tails are supposed to be "like carrots" and i just say his tail is like a carrot that grew around a rock in the soil. I wouldn't want him to have another tail!

It's such a blessing to be loved for who we are, and maybe especially loved for those traits that differ from convention, that do not conform to an arbitrary mold.

Glad you love your dog, and now out with the two (three) of you into the training field, and have fun together!
Posted By: Qyn

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/17/12 01:08 AM

Hi Jeasy02, thanks for being open to the suggestions you have been offered. I think with that attitude you can go a long way with improving your dog's reaction to things. Remember it is never too late to help your dog and it sounds as if you and your wife are prepared to do that. I wish you well and look forward to reading about your successes.
Posted By: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/17/12 01:55 AM

Originally Posted By: jeasy02
This is my first GSD and dog period and to not have his ears go up it was kind of discouraging. And I just didn't really take the initiative to go through the training and other things the proper way. I got tired of people asking me is he purebred, is he mixed, and I just had that "I don't care attitude." ... But he is still my boy no matter what


jeasy02, OMG get a long coat and people will tell you that your dog isn't a purebred, it has to be mixed with collie. rofl2

Beauty is more than skin or fur deep. The best things about GSD's are their looks but their dedication to their humans, their ability to do so many different things and their intelligence.

I think it is possible that your dog picked up on your lack of interest in him. Some dogs can be extremely sensitive and pick up all kinds of little vibes.

What might work good for you guys is to combine some training in play sessions. I do this with all of my dogs, for me to throw the ball they have to offer a sit and I say good sit and throw the ball. I will work other things in I want like down (platz) or what is called puppy push ups (a series of down-sit-down-sit) the I will throw the ball. This way Brushi knows you are happy and engaged with him which might be helpful.

The barking when a stranger comes in the house, leash your dog, have people ignore him. DeeDee used to do this with everyone that came in the house, I would let her calm down a bit and then I would go to her give her some treats and then have the stranger give treats. After a few times of this with my mom I could hear a different tone in her bark, she wanted my mom to give her treats. Make people you allow into your home treat machines.
Posted By: DarkEyes

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/23/12 12:22 PM

How is your dog's behavior going?
Posted By: Shilohsmom

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/26/12 11:44 PM

Originally Posted By: jeasy02
Ok so I have a big issue and I don't know what caused or is the cause of this. My dog is afraid of EVERYTHING - from cars, to the hamper rolling on the floor, to the sound of a trash bag, to EVERYTHING and I want to break that so bad. Any suggestions?

Also, the other thing that is really just not good is that he gets so excited when we come home after work. I have heard they have serious separation anxiety but when we get in the house he jumps all over us and he is just out of control for like 5 mins and it's bad - any suggestions on that? thanks


I don't think you 'break' bad behavior. Instead, you should encourage good behavior. If your pup is afraid of something then you should work with him to slowly build up his confidence.

I can't relate to his being so excited to see you as a problem. I'm thrilled to see my dogs when I get home and am happy they share in my excitement.

Good luck with working with your dog.
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 01/27/12 04:02 AM

i think the OP will not be back for a couple of months...
Posted By: Alexa

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 04/26/12 03:55 PM

I have a great method of gluing your German Shepherd's ears up if you are interested... My pup had one up and one down around 7 months, and although I'm sure they both would have stood eventually I got nervous about it. My breeder recommended gluing them and it worked within a week and his ears are beautiful! Let me know if you are interested! I have heard that if you don't attempt to glue by 7 months the chances of it working are slim... but it may be worth a shot!
Posted By: Selzer

Re: My dog is so scared of everything - 04/28/12 09:00 PM

We get all wrapped up in the ear comments and the big issue is the fear. I agree with WiscTiger, this dog is 20 months old, and it is what it is. You can modify its behavior and manage it, and improve the bond and trust that the dog has in you, but if it is genetic, then it is genetic.

Sometimes taking such a dog out to classes is the best thing to do, and sometimes, that too can be overwhelming. I think you really want to stay beneath the thresh-hold level and praise, reinforce good behaviors to build the bond. Set the dog up to succeed and praise him for doing so. At the same time stay consistent, and calm in your leadership. Have a good steady routine. A nervy dog is going to want everything in its place, and that means potty before breakfast every day.

No coddling, no nonsense. If you take the dog somewhere and it sees something that it reacts to, How Silly, and walk on. No big deals about nothing. If you stand around apologizing for your dog's barking, you are keeping the dog in a situation above their threshold, while emitting all kinds of embarrassed, frustrated, nervous feelings right down the leash. Turn into a rude idiot for a while. Your dog barks at someone, "Eh, that's just a man" and keep on going. The man will get over it.

If you have a normal pup, get the pup out and about, take them 1 place every day, meet 1 person, see 1 thing, great, great, great. If he is doing great, maybe go a little further, meet another person, awesome, excellent, a dog. Kool. Quit while you are ahead, and you have had a positive socialization day. If you have a nervy dog, then you need to be have experiences, maybe one per day, maybe three in a week. They will be an increased distance and a decreased endurance.

Watch how your voice and body language affects the dog. Crisp, harsh commands and corrections, may shut your dog down. You do not want your dog fearful of you. You may need to temper your voice, not to a whisper, but to a happy lilt, and forget corrections for now. Do not put your dog in a position to do a bad thing, and if it does, chalk it up as the cost of owning a young, nervy dog. If you have a special hanging worth thousands of dollars, or that was your dead grandmother's maybe it is best to pack it up or move it out of Harm's way. I like to say, there is nothing in my home I care that much about that if the puppies get it, I will cry.

Now, look how you are in public. Are you shy? Are you confident? Are you outgoing? Are you fearful. A whole load of fearful people get GSDs to make them feel safer, but if you walk out fearful to socialize your puppy, you will transmit that fear, and your puppy is going to be afraid. If you are terrified that your puppy will bark or snap at or bite someone, and have a death's grip on the leash, you are setting your pup up to fail. Of course using a loose leash around children when you have a dog that is already shown aggression, this can be terribly irresponsible. What you need to do is first become confident, fake it until you make it. Walk out with confidence. Have a plan. If the dog barks, "That's silly, and move on. With a plan, you will be more confident.

I am looking to rehab a puppy 5 1/2 months old, after she settles in a bit, and so I am kind of typing my plan out for her, so there might be some things that applies to your boy as well. I agree with the nutrition and less vaccination -- this pup has been vaccinated for everything under the sun already. Sometimes less is best.

The thing to do is to completely settle on a plan of action, outline it and get a good handle on it before ever starting. Then approach it from many angles.

1. Walk out in confidence -- build your confidence, and let your dog become confident in you.

2. Calm, consistent positive leadership, no-nonsense, regular routine, up-beat quiet voice. Limit any possibilities of negative behaviors, few if any corrections.

3. Training -- set your dog up to succeed and praise him for doing so. Keep praise level -- do not frighten your dog with your praise. Build the bond through training.

4. Slowly introduce distractions and the outside world. No nonsense. Remain calm regardless. Maybe training class once a week. That too much? Go for fifteen minutes and leave. That too much, sit on the outside and watch. Gravitate toward people who do not zero in on your dog. Your dog is shy? It does not want to be the center of attention. If every person the dog sees, raises their voice in exclamation over the dog while staring at its face, the dog is going to have problems. If you can have a conversation with someone while they ignore your dog completely, your dog can relax in the presence of a stranger, wow.

5. Build the dog's confidence through full-body games, agility, exercise, purely positive.

6. Assessment after six months, nine months. What do I want the dog to be? Who is the dog? Don't try to make a herding dog out of a retriever. If after 6 or 9 months, you find that you have a dog that really prefers to be a home-body, then let him.

All dogs should be able to manage reasonably well at the vet's, and at home. Not all dogs need to be dog-park socialites.

Good luck.
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