Bryce t c: German shepherd has started to become afraid of strangers how do i fix it?
My new german shepherd i got about 2 weeks ago has just turned 6 months old. He is of good breed his father is a k9 unit from Czechia (Eastern Europe), and he started out as the confident, curious and protective GSD people look for. But recenlty he has been wary of strangers and after i greet them backs away when they attempt to pet him and wont come when they stand next to me.
Photo Credit: laura271GSD1/Flickr CC
Is there any socializing techniques to solve this problem? or is it too late?
Answers and Views:
Answer by Becky
4-6 months is when the happy-go-lucky stage gives way to adolescence, when a pup may begin to view the world with more suspicion . Things as simple as a trash bin on the street, which may have had no effect before, are suddenly cause for suspicion and careful approach. This can be the make-or-break period for some dogs with an 'edge', to see which way the temperament will go.
It's genetic & has nothing to do with prior socialization/rearing mistakes (neglect/abuse aside). Particularly with working lines (and Czech dogs are well known for being 'civil' or 'sharp'), you're dealing with a higher level of genetic suspicion and aggression than most show or 'pet' lines. Both are desired traits in working dogs, HOWEVER they must be accompanied by strong , stable nerves/social confidence. Without it, suspicion and aggression become a liability rather than an asset.
This is the dilemma when breeding dogs for protection work, as even the most solid, accomplished dogs can produce offspring that 'fall short'. Pups that fall short in suspicion/ aggression can still make excellent, social companion/pet dogs. Those that fall short in nerve strength/confidence rarely do.
Yes, you can absolutely attempt more socialization at this time. Letting them have 'success' with that bad old trash bin, to continue acclimating to environmental stimuli, strangers, dogs, etc, is still quite achievable. But it must be done from a 'neutral' perspective. Meaning, you should ask strangers to act as if your pup isn't even there, totally ignoring him until HE initiates contact. It's just as important to practice good obedience and read his cues in every situation. Never push a dog through an uncomfortable situation, it only makes him more fearful.
Realize that dogs such as this have limitations and shouldn't be expected to be super stranger friendly/social. But many of them can be neutral and obedient.
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It would be wise to have your breeder or a local trainer/schutzhund club help you assess his temperament and bring him along. If he started out as confident & curious, he should have enough balance to work with. A responsible breeder will not want you to keep a dog that may be truly unstable/dangerous, and will offer you a replacement.
I wish you the best of luck with your pup!
Answer by Kaper
Pups go through two fear stages in their development.
The second one can start around the age of 6 months.
I would take the dog to a trainer. Socialization is vitally important with German Shepherd and any bad experiences during this phase can have a lasting affect on future behavior.
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