In Love, Shepard needs Moving adjustment

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by sam8white, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. sam8white

    sam8white New Member

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    After perusing 50 pages of forums on training, I've concluded this subject isn't out there. Great forum, members and responses by the way.


    I'm in love with her, and she's supposed to be moving in, but her 10 year old German Shephard is not comfortable when visiting.

    I've always had a dog, and really welcome having a dog in the house again.

    I've supplied a crate, surrounded on three sides w/ cloth, and he adapts well to that, and likes it and feels safe, and eats well when visiting.

    He seems better when she's not around, and when comes home, the dog is ready to go-back to her house, or somewhere else, she's nervous about it, the dog picks up on it, and things escalate downhill from there.

    He is skiddish, and afraid of things like the microwave beeping, and generally uncomfortable. Sometimes doesn't want to go near kitchen, nor that side of house, away from the entry door. We've brought his blanket for sleeping from her house, and he likes it, but always acts like he's ready to leave. Nervouse, pacing, and always laying by the door. At her house, the fenced back yard is accessed by the kitchen, my house, the outside is accessed through the back garage door. He always goes by her car, and doesn't want to come back in, and thinks he should be going. Also starts shaking when brought back into house. She really feels he is afraid of something in the house. This really freaks her out, and it may be too much for her. I really love her, love the dog, but need him to get used to house, and quick, before this becomes a bigger thing than it is already.

    She's just about ready to condemn the whole plan, as she couldn't stand to be without her dog, nor would I want her to.

    I've played with him, and we get along fine at her house. We play a little at my house. He's her baby, and is a little spoiled, but very well behaved. He can have run of house, but when I come home, I find him in kennel, or on his blanket.

    To make things worse, her ex has part-time custody of the dog.


    HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    save a relationship of two people in love that belong together, and help me get the dog comfortable in my house-and QUICK!

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I don't know about quick, but I think the dog will get use to and comfortable in his new house in time. But you're right....your girlfriend's nervousness and worry about the dog is sending him vibes (big time) that SOMETHING is wrong and it's making things much worse. Let him take his own time getting use to things, but DON'T anyone make a big deal out of it or fuss over him when he's acting nervous. He'll become conditioned to that way of feeling and reacting, as that is a learned behavior. When he is acting all nervous, ignore him, go about your business and act like everything is just honky dory...no big deal. When he's seeming to be a little comfortable and taking things more in stride about things, that's when you heap on the praise and attention. The dog is in a foreign place, all new things, new smells, new noises. Dogs are very sensative to these changes and their senses are very keen. Give him his time, space and RELAX. It won't likely happen quickly, but he will get comfortable in time and if he's handled right. Good luck.
     
  3. Saje

    Saje Island dweller

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    My opinion is that she needs to be confident and during visits she needs to make your place the highlight of his day. Do EVERYTHING he loves to do there. Give him his favourite treats. Make it so your house = fun! And make sure that you bond with him too. Lots of love, treats, and fun fun fun.

    But don't rush it. If he's a timid dog he will need to take his time. Let him.
     
  4. Richard D.

    Richard D. New Member

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    Great advice above. Ignore him when he acts nervous and try and have your girlfriend not tell him, "it's OK" and stroke him when he is like that. In essence she is saying it's OK to be nervous and reinforcing the behavior.

    By ignore, you should not even look at him or make eye contact and when he calms down praise him and give him treats. He'll figure it out quick. It is even more important for her to do this and it sounds like that is going to be your real problem.

    I would hire a trainer who would probably offer the same advice but, when it comes from a third party who is a profesional it has a lot more weight without the baggage of a personal relationship.

    Good luck with that.
     
  5. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    I agree with what Doberluv has to say here.

    It is rare for a change in a dog's life involving a new family or "pack" member, not to have an impact on their emotional state. And then we see it in the form of anxious behavior.

    The fact that they are entering your territory to do this, is also confusing to the dog, because it involves a new "territory", in addition to a new person.

    The dynamics of how the two of you are interacting with the dog, also has an impact. This dog is most likely experiencing a state of confusion right now, but this should improve if the both of you agree on an action plan, and stick to it TOGETHER. This may not be as hard to do, as you may think.

    If the dog sees you both as leaders, this can greatly help the situation. If the dog sees his mistress as his leader, but not you - this can be a problem. If the dog sees himself as leader over his mistress, but not over you - again, a problem. If the dog sees his mistress as his leader, does not see you as his leader, but sees his mistress be submissive to you - this can really confuse them!

    I know this sounds complicated! But, let us know if you understand what we've been saying so far, and I'm sure we can come up with some structored activities to ease this dog's confusion.

    Angelique :)
     
  6. JR0579

    JR0579 German Shepherds Rock

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    Great advice given above. However, I just have a question, didn't she try spending a night with him at your house ?
    If the answer is yes, where did he sleep and what were his reactions ?
    If the answer is no, why doesn't she try it and see what happens ? If he can spend a night or two with both of you in the same room [ if possible ] that might break some ice.

    Just an idea
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2005
  7. sam8white

    sam8white New Member

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    Thanks for the quick and direct responses. What a great forum.

    Joyful Roy, - She is staying at my house now, the dog visits occassionally. Seems fine sleeping in the same room with us, and sleeps on his blanket, most of the night through, (didn't know shepards occassionaly snore though;) ) I thought that the sleeping part of it is going pretty well.

    Richard and Doberluv, You guys hit the "what not to do" on the head. It's exactly what she did. It was her immediate reaction to cuddle him, and get even more concerned to the nervousness, and trying to leave or stay in garage. Her reaction was to take him back to leave at the ex's the next day. Doesn't want to put her baby through the stress of the changes. Don't think there is time to bring in a professional, as lots of things to do w/ all the moving and stuff, but I'm not opposed to it at all. Communication is of the essence in any relationship, (human or canine) but she says I don't know her doggie, and he's scared, and cuddles him. I think all three of us need some training in this deal.

    Angelique, I don't think we would have any problem on sticking to an action plan, but we're far from knowing what it should be and/or agreeing on what it should be. I do like and understand what I'm hearing so far, and I do believe in the leader theory-that would be reassuring to him, that he would rather be lead, than be responded to. I don't think she feels this way though. It's her baby of course, and she's protective, and I don't blame her at all. I just don't know how to communicate what will help, and she feels I don't know him, but she does. I believe we are both very sensitive to his needs, we just need help doing the right thing.

    I definitely will work on the "fun" factor. He does bring a toy to me occassionaly, and his responses are subdued, which is similar to when playing with him at his house in his familiar territory. He does seem to follow me up and downstairs when it's just me around.

    Am I hearing that these may be normal type responses, and the fear/skiddishness is not likely something in the house in particular causing it, but rather the changes?

    Open to further suggestions.
     
  8. Saje

    Saje Island dweller

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    First of all I think that you are very open and I'm so glad that you have made this an important issue in your relationship. I hope she appreciates it. Maybe you can have her join the forum? We like having couples on board. They tell amusing stories about themselves. lol

    Anyway, I think your biggest problem now is agreeing on a plan/method and on her letting her baby grow up.

    She might find this article interesting.
    http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm

    Your dog doesn't need to follow those rules to the strictest degree. he is well behaved but some house 'rules' will help him build confidence. And maybe reading an article about how that training method works with help your gf understand what she needs to do.
     
  9. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    THIS, IMO, is often the biggest problem in these "scenarios", not how the dog is behaving. The dog is simply reacting to what's going on around him.

    Well, I have to run off and make some $$$. I'll check back later. Maybe we can come up with something as "third parties", outside of the relationship which will offers some solutions which your girlfriend can read, so it won't sound like you are "competing" with her dog. :)
     
  10. sam8white

    sam8white New Member

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    Will do - I will have the gf read, and possibly join the thread. Hopefully she doesn't tell any bad stories on me.

    Also, a clarification from my posts above.
    It's not just the gf that cuddled and tried to console him when he was feeling nervous, I did it to, thinking I would be helping him feel better. Is everyone fully in agreement that is wrong?

    Sounds like I was wrong,
    Thanks for the advice so far,

    Looking forward to more.
     
  11. JR0579

    JR0579 German Shepherds Rock

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    Personally, I agree that both of you were wrong cuddling him thinking that that would make him better. Like others have said, if he acts up just let it go as if nothing happened. Just be patient ... it'll work out just great.

    Wishing u the best of luck
     
  12. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    The most important thing, is for both you and your girlfriend to be in complete agreement on any course of action.

    This is a dog which is entering into the later stages of his life. He has been a loyal and devoted friend and companion to your girlfriend. This WILL be harder for her, than for you, at least emotionally. This dog was also there for her during a break-up of another relationship, from what I understand.

    Now, if you can both agree to do what's best for this dog, (even if it pulls both of your heartstrings a bit!), I can give you some pointers that may help you understand what you can both do to help her dog adjust to this new situation.

    Please, have your girlfriend read this entire thread.

    I will check back later. :)
     
  13. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    When we console a child, chances are, that they understand what it is we're consoling them about. They understand our language, they are much better able to make a connection between what is going on, the thing that they're afraid of and our comforting them. We are of the same specie and speak the same verbal and body language. However, with dogs, being a different specie, having their own language and we, ours, we often, mistakenly assume they are thinking the same way as we are. In this situation, the dog is naturally uneasy with his new enviornment. He doesn't understand what is going on. There are many little things which he isn't use to and remember, those little things are human things...not dog things. There's the first bit of confusion. So, the dog is uneasy. You feel sorry for him....naturally and want to console him. BUT....he doesn't know what it is you're doing. He is NOT making the connection between his unease with the changes in his enviornment and YOUR comforting him, patting him, hugging, cooing. What he is most likely understanding from this attention from you is that he is being rewarded and made a fuss over whenever he is acting or feeling afraid. "Something must be wrong." He doesn't know what it is YOU think is wrong, but something is very abnormal that you're acting this way. And his reaction, the fear or nervousness is the way you like him to be, since you're reinforcing that with reward.(coddling). This becomes a condition/response habit, so that anytime in the future that anything worries him, he will respond like this. This also perpetuates a loss of confidence in himself....not a good thing.

    This is why the suggestions are to associate his small successes in showing some confidence with reward....attention, treats, toys, games. AND, it is why it is important to relax yourselves, and take it all in stride, as though you're confident and that it's all fine, no big deal. If you're confident (not showing all that fussing over him) he will tend to feel more confident in time. When he is nervous, worried, anxious, you can try distracting him (get him before he gets too nervous)....go out for a romp in the yard, have some fun. Or...just do your thing and don't pay any attention to him for a while. When he settles and seems like he's relaxed, go over to him and play a little game, give him affection and even a treat. Show him that his being confident is what is a good thing. And soon, he will really, genuinely feel confident. But you have to be confident, sure of yourselves, standing up tall, decisive and cheerful. Show him that you're not concerned about anything. You'll have to be together on this. I bet if you do this, within a couple of weeks or a month, he'll feel lots better.
     
  14. Mordy

    Mordy Quigleyfied

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    excellent advice, i only have one thing to add:

    you might want to try a DAP diffuser to help the dog get comfortable. DAP stands for dog appeasing pheromone and they often help tremendously to calm down a stressed dog.

    the brand name that comes to mind right now is "comfort zone" and it comes as a plug-in thingie for an electrical outlet and as a spray that you can just spray on bedding.
     
  15. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    Great post and wise words! Worth reading more than once. ;)
     
  16. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Thank girls. Yes....you can all just look up to me like the older, mature woman with all the wisdom...the matron. ROFLOL!

    That difuser sounds cool. I've heard of that being used for calming. But I really don't see this as anything all that unusual for a dog. I know if I brought my dogs into a new place, they'd be a bit nervous, pacing around, wondering what's up. All their familiar stuff is not there etc. And then after a few days or a week, I expect they'd work into it.
     

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