German Shepherd behavior help!

Dog Food Advisor Forums Off Topic Forum German Shepherd behavior help!

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  • #120926 Report Abuse
    S B


    My family and I have a male German Shepherd, named Abe, that will be 3 years old in October. He has separation anxiety and can not be left home alone for any peried of time. He is afraid of other dogs that come up to him (He puts his tail between his legs and runs away). If a stranger stops and talks to him when on a walk he will bark at them. Abe is not vary socilized, shortly after getting him we took him to puppy training class’s at petsmart and he would just hide under the chairs. We still take him to the petsmart and walk around from time to time. Im wodering if taking him to a adult dog class will help? Also if getting a female Golden Retriever puppy would help or hurt our situation? Our previous dog was a female golden retriever and was the exact opposite of Abe. We ill be having a wedding at our house in June of 2019 and I would like him not to freak if we have people he dosent know over. On a positive note he does great on walks and in the car.


    #120927 Report Abuse

    The first thing I would do would be to take him to the vet for a checkup and discuss medication that’s prescribed for separation anxiety.
    Especially because you have a large breed that could become aggressive and bite someone (fear aggressive).

    Some of these medications take a week or two to start to be effective, at that time he may become calmer, less fearful therefore becoming more receptive to training and being around other dogs and people.

    However, he may always be a bit shy, some of what you are observing may be his personality. Just like people, some dogs can be introverted.

    From a previous post (use search engine to look up “anxiety”)
    “Medications were invented for a reason, when used appropriately under the guidance of a veterinarian and in conjunction with desensitization and gentle training techniques. they can be very helpful in decreasing anxiety levels therefore making the dog receptive to learning and getting over fears”.

    “They are also very reasonable, especially when compared to dog trainers and such.
    Example, Clomicalm was prescribed for a dog I had years ago, she only needed to be on it a few months”
    “Excellent results. The dog never appeared sedated, she was alert, no change in personality noted, except for being less fearful. Some medications take up to a week or two to show effect, discuss with your vet. There are other medications to choose from now. Your vet will help you evaluate if this is an option for your pet”.

    ‘Clomicalm is a tricyclic antidepressant (clomipramine) that’s used to treat separation anxiety in dogs as part of behavior modification plans. Clomicalm makes it easier for dogs to learn new, positive behaviors. By easing anxiety caused by separation, Clomicalm controls destructive behavior, vocalization, and other negative behaviors’.
    (above copied from vet depot dot com)

    PS: Don’t be fooled by supplements, flower drops, etc. They don’t work.

    #120929 Report Abuse

    Also, adding another dog/puppy to the household right now is not a good idea.
    He may decide to get rid of it.
    It won’t be pretty.
    Some dogs prefer to be the only dog in the household no matter what you do.
    Especially if they were not socialized as puppies.
    It would be best if you discuss this with your vet before doing anything impulsive.
    I would take care of the dog you have now first, baby steps. See how it goes. He may never like other dogs.
    PS: If you decide you would rather have a new puppy, instead. I know, it sounds awful, but it happens all the time. People give up the older dog instead of returning the puppy.
    I hope you will contact a German shepherd rescue (just google to find one closest) and discuss your concerns, he is still young and has a good chance of being rehomed.

    #120933 Report Abuse
    S B

    Unfortunately our dog is scarred from the vet because he almost died twice. The first time, when he was a pup, he somehow found some fertilizer in our backyard and the second time (a year ago) the vet and us could not figure out what he had ingested. For his check up the vet had us give him two different anti-anxity meds and they didn’t help at all.

    #120934 Report Abuse

    I would find a new vet if you are not comfortable with the one you saw, they can prescribe a sedative that you can give one hour prior to the appointment. Get his medical records and confirm what he got before that didn’t work.
    You may want to invest in a muzzle…it only takes a moment for things to go south.
    As I mentioned before, some anti-anxiety meds/antidepressants take at least a couple of weeks or more to show results.
    Maybe you didn’t give it long enough? Assuming something was prescribed for his anxiety, long term, not just for 1 vet visit.
    It’s best to stay with the same vet if possible.

    #120935 Report Abuse

    “The first time, when he was a pup, he somehow found some fertilizer in our backyard and the second time (a year ago) the vet and us could not figure out what he had ingested”

    No, they don’t know for sure what he got into, probably a herbicide or insecticide (poison, ? carcinogen) commonly used in lawn care and fertilizers. Dead mouse that had been poisoned?

    Solution: Try not to leave dogs unattended outside, observe at all times.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by anonymous.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by anonymous.
    #120942 Report Abuse
    #120944 Report Abuse

    In addition to finding another vet, dump the Petsmart training classes. They’re great for most pet dogs without issues, but for a dog like this you need a good trainer that’s very experienced with fearfulness and German Shepherds in particular.
    a 3 year old dog that’s fearful will never be not fearful, but a good, experienced trainer will help you handle your dog so their fears are lessened and issues are managed much easier. Your dog will relax a little when he realizes you’ll take care of problems and he doesn’t have to worry about it.

    #120945 Report Abuse

    Also, no to both questions IMO…no to another dog right now (you’re having problems with one, don’t multiply that. Get this one under control first), and an adult class won’t help. Get one on one help from a trainer FIRST, and use classes as a way to up your training once his fear is under control.
    Don’t push “socializing” this dog by forcing him to meet everyone and play with every dog he sees. It’ll backfire.

    #120946 Report Abuse

    Also, I wouldn’t advocate giving this dog up to a rescue because of his issues to get a cute Golden puppy instead without working with the dog first, with a real trainer.
    That’s terrible advice.

    #120948 Report Abuse

    @ Acroyali
    That’s what people do. Trade in a dog with problems for a perfect new puppy. I am sure the German Shepherd rescue have seen this before. They may be able to find the dog a more suitable home.

    Do you have a better idea? Some folks do not want to spend money on trainers and vets and such, they just want a perfect dog with no issues

    PS: If that dog bites someone (odds are from the information provided that it will)….you know what will happen, especially if it’s rabies shot is not up to date.

    Most communities have vets that are mobile, they will come to your home to give vaccinations and treat, they have fully equipped vans, all they need is a driveway.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by anonymous.
    #120961 Report Abuse

    Yes I do have a better idea which I stated…talk to a trainer! Sheesh, the poster is looking for ideas. I gave them one. .

    #120972 Report Abuse
    S B

    My family and I would never give this dog up. All I was wondering was if getting a calmer dog breed would help him…Not Replace him with a “cute little puppy”. I just wanted some ideas for the best way to handle his situation. We don’t want to just put our dog on drugs to calm him down, we would rather have him be trained properly. I am currently researching trainers in our area.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by S B.
    #120995 Report Abuse

    Sounds like a good place to start, S B.
    When you get your dogs issues ironed out and he gets more confident, you could look into a puppy but always tell the breeder that you have a fearful dog, too. The last thing you want is for the pup to pick up on that, but a lot of people have fearful dogs and bring puppies in. It just takes management and the help of a good trainer.
    Best of luck, and please update.

    #120996 Report Abuse

    Hi S B-

    I second every thing that Acroyali said. This dog needs a trainer that is experienced with German Shepherds. Also, please do not forget, GSD’s are working dogs. They tend to be very badly behaved and have anxiety when they are not given a job. They can not thrive as couch potatoes. I see a lot of under worked and under stimulated working breeds have anxiety issues due to this. Also just taking him on walks and playing in the yard is not enough for these breeds.

    #120999 Report Abuse
    S B

    We do take him on walks and play fetch with him everyday. So what work would you suggest?

    #121004 Report Abuse

    Hi Sarah,
    Doesn’t sound like he is aggressive or needs ANY anxiety drugs these drugs can make some dogs anxieties worse…
    He needs to see a Animal Behaviourist they’re normally at Vet practices, the behaviourist will teach you how to react & what to do & help correct his behaviour, also you need to read all the signs before he has a full on anxiety attack & runs across a road & gets hit by a car… they will teach you how to relax him & reassure him that everything is OK, speak to him in a calming voice, he’s like a scared little 3yr old boy…
    Softly touch & caress around his ears & head this relaxes a dog, when you see he is becoming uncomforable remove him from the situation, walk him away & tell him, “Abe it’s Ok we are going home now, it’s Ok”, home is his safe place or if you drove in car somewhere, then the car is his safe place, my boy runs to the car when he feels scared or threaten but Patch always runs to the wrong grey car lol…
    When Patch was taking low dose of Metronidazole for more then 1 month he started acting very scared, having anxiety attacks, he was real paranoid, scared of his own shadow…it was awful watching this happy out going friendly dog become so scared, now he can only take very low dose Metronidazole no more then 21 days..

    “Routine”, I read you take him for walks, he needs to be in a stricted routine, dogs are very routinal they feel safe when they know what is instore for them daily…Feed same times, walked same time, go to bed same time etc.

    When he goes for his daily walks, make his walkies, happy time avoid any of his triggers, its good he’s getting out & about, walk him the same time & walk the same route or have 2 routes,so he gets to know everything on these walks, he will feel safer & confident & get to know all the same dog smells etc & he’ll probably pass the same dogs everyday, when you see another dog or human approaching you both, watch him to see when he sees the other dog approaching, then start reassuring him, tell him “Just keep walking, its OK Abe, its all OK”, before you pass the other dog or human, then if he was a good boy then reward him with a treat, reward his good behaviour in a happy excited voice telling him he’s a good boy, for treats just bring some of his dry kibbles if he eats dry dog food use these as treats, then tell Abe, in a very happy voice, “GOOD BOY see it was OK, your OK Abe” always reassure him, then when you see he feels OK walking past a certain dog that he sees daily & he doesn’t tuck his tail inbetween his legs or lowers his head no more, then ask owner next time they pass each other can they quickly met as long as the other dog is a calm dog, then let these 2 dogs met while walking side on, for a quick 10-20sec a quick sniff then thats it, as Abe may start to get anxious, but before they meet, you say to Abe “do you want to Say Hello Abe” always use these words “Say HELLO Abe” then he learns when you say ” Do you want to Say Hello Abe” it will be OK, everything is alright as long as things turn out good all the time, he needs to gain his confidence, he has no coinfidence….
    I rescued a Boxer she was 18months old & she had NO confidence, on her pound notes it stated, Can NOT cut her tail & must go thru RSPCA animal behaviourist training, NO male owners… The animal Behaviourist will met Abe & you at your home or at the vet office which ever is best for Abe so probably home & go for a walk with Abe she/he will teach you what to do & say & what not to do & say to Abe… never touch a dogs head or body when they have done something wrong, bad, touching is rewarding & your rewarding bad behaviour only touch & caress when the dog has done something good, then touch the dogs head face & tell them what they have done that was good in a happy tone voice, when he is very scared & needs to be relaxed make him sit & caress his ears & head & tell him “its OK Abe” but when he is barking at someone do not caress his head or body do not touch him as this is bad behaviour barking take him away from the situation ASAP, I see it all the time at the park, a dog will be barking or go to bite another dog while walking past & the owner touches their dog head & says no, this is confussing to the dog, he is getting mixed messages from his owner.. the Animal Behaviorist will teach you all this…
    Humans give their dog mixed signals & confuse the dog from right & wrong, you need to learn what a dogs “Dogs Body Language meanings” you can google it..
    also never scold your dog for any bad behaviour specially when he is having a anxiety attack & feels so scared & threated, calm him, massage his ears & head & speak calming to him….

    Here’s 2 f/b groups where you’ll get some support..

    “Treating Separation Separation Anxiety In Dogs”

    “Canine Separation Anxiety Support Group”

    #121008 Report Abuse

    @ S B
    “We don’t want to just put our dog on drugs to calm him down, we would rather have him be trained properly. I am currently researching trainers in our area”.

    Best to ask your vet for a referral regarding a trainer. Oh, and medication prescribed by a veterinary healthcare professional that has examined your dog is not “drugs”.
    Without medication to treat anxiety disorders, many dogs will not be receptive to training.
    A good trainer will explain this to you.

    BTW: Anyone can call themselves a trainer, see who your vet recommends. If the dog responds to medication (if recommended by the examining vet) he may not even need a trainer!

    Just walking and playing fetch may not be enough for a herding dog. I had a corgi that had to be walked 5 miles a day for good results.

    Anyone in your household jog? Try running with the dog for at least a mile or two a day. In conjunction with other activities and treatment modalities.

    #121009 Report Abuse
    #121021 Report Abuse

    S B-

    GSD’s were originally bred for herding, but they also excel at protection sports like IPO. I’ve seen them compete in agility and barn hunt as well. Also something you can do on your walks is to put a weighted back pack on him. That way he has a job to do by carrying your supplies. If you have inclines and mountains where you live, go hiking with him. Also practicing basic obedience daily mental stimulates them and helps them build confidence. Even simple things like sitting and waiting for food, not walking out the door before you do. Small things like that. They make a big difference. Also consistency is important for dogs. They like routine and can often get anxious when something is changed, so try to keep feeding times the same and bathroom break times the same as much as possible.

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