Please help! I am considering giving my dog away ;(

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  1. Two and half years ago, my then boyfriend (now husband) talked my parents into getting 2 dogs. I was away for school at that time, tried my best to talk them out of it, but they got them anyway. One is a German shepherd, the other one is a smaller breed dog. They have always been living with my parents, my husband and I just visit since we live 30-45mins away. We want to take care of the dogs ourselves, but we both work, live in a rental house that do not allow dogs, and it is just not feasible at the moment.

    The problem is with our GS, she is the sweetest dog at home, but she is unpredictable outside the house. She is very strong, get anxious even on little thing (I was told it is in her genetic), so it is hard to control her sometimes. We had difficulty walking her, she used to lunge at other dogs, but there was never any direct contact since we were always careful not letting her near other dogs. It is our fault that we didn't train or socialize her when she was younger, but we finally did. We started her on private training 2 months ago, as we wanted to take her to the park, and get her to socialize more. The training went well, we took her to crowded place and people came to pet her, compliment how good she was. Unfortunately, good time doesn't last long. We took her to a park, and she bit someone. The place was not even crowded, we couldn't believe it happened, she is usually good with human. I think she was very stress out since there were squirrels and birds near by.
    What ever happened, happened. We felt so bad for that person and take responsible for the accident. Now we need to decide what is best for our dog since we are running out of options. Our trainer recommended (before this incident happened) to have her do boot camp, but there is no guarantee at all. The problem is my parents are old and cannot be a good pack leader for her. Even with all the training, she may still go back to her own self afterward. I am the main person training her for the last 2 months, but I only see her for an hour a day. I am thinking of re-homing her, as there may be better dog owner out there for her.
    So what should I do? Here are a few options. 1) let her be a back yard dog 2) put her in boot camp, but we need to move in with our parents to have more time with her 3) re-homing her, but is there any guarantee the new family will be better?
    Thank you for any advice!
  2. Be aware that many people give up GS's because their dogs have a history of biting/poor training, and GS rescues have problems placing them because of it. Consequently some GS rescues are forced to put dogs down because they can't find homes for those with biting histories. I don't know what to advise. You may be able to find a rescue that is willing to keep trying to place her. You may be able to find, through the rescues, an experienced GS person who is willing to take her in and work with her. I don't know anything about boot camps but would be skeptical of any training regime that promises short-term fixes instead of focusing on the long-term problems.
  3. I don't have a good answer for you but I am very sympathetic. We once adopted a dog (from inbreeding) that remained aggressive to animals and people no matter how much training we tried. Sadly, we returned her to the rescue group to find a home that was in a rural area.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
  4. Thank you for both responses.
  5. I understand your situation and it's not easy trying to do the right thing for your dog without feeling guilty. Re-homing might be the best thing for your dog as it really would not be fair to leave him in the back yard all the time. A rescue group would likely work with him and find a home suited to his needs. Good luck.
  6. You're right
  7. It's sad to think about letting go of our animals. When we first had our now oldest cat, he was very active and hard on the older cat. I put him on the wait list for a very nice non-kill adoption facility. They eventually called and had a place for him but we decided to keep him. Mostly because we liked him but also because he was a biter and I figured if he bit someone's child it would be a death sentence for him. So we kept him and he really didn't have that much exposure to other people outside of the two of us adults.
    You might want to contact a GS rescue and see if they will take your dog. Is he young and good looking? I don't know if they'd take a biter but just as part of your decision process it wouldn't hurt to find out.
  8. #8 May 16, 2016
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
    Beeing German and training dogs- for don't know how long -even worst ones here are my thoughts:

    1.) Anxious dogs are may more easy engage in biting. Looking up the correct expression in English for that, I saw that English websites tend to claim that anxioius dogs tend not to bite- sorry, but that is BS. The risk beeing biten by an anxious dog is way higher than beeing bitten by a dog that is confident. Studies prove that. We are more into dogs behaviour than other countries as a) we are Germans, dogs belong to our culture b) we don't have kill-shelters, which means each dog sent to an animal shelter will stay there till it dies naturally and c) we have laws that forbid special breeds (unfortately) and force the owners of other breeds to test their ability to be a pack leader to the dog.

    So this is the problem you have to solve. Sending a dog into a boot camp can help, however I am not convinced about that in the actual scenery.

    What I strongly would recommend would be, building trust in the owner. It seems as if your parents woudln't be able to handle that situation due to age, at least this is what I understood.

    So, I'd recommend that you step in and do the following:
    teach her "look". It will help you in the future.

    Do obedience, it works wonder on German Shepherds, they are meant for obedience, really, if not a GS then which breed else?

    Do everything at home, not outside. Do not, I repeat NOT, walk her until obedience and look works perfectly, under any circumstances. That means, unfortunately: standing up very early to walk the dog when nobody is on the streets. Increase the level of stess / distranctions step by step. Control the situation which means: plan in advance. If you see another dog or human beeing, avoid them for the beginning. Later, pass them with a hughe distance. The decrease the distance. Then increase the amount of stress factors.

    Learn to read your dog. All dogs do the same, when they start getting stressed: they close their mouth. Beeing heavily stressed they develop dimples and start pantin. They start walking in a very cutting movement way. They tense up. They stare- at the moment they start to stare you have a hughe problem, so you have to intervene at the very first beginning which is : standing and closing the mouth. At this moment, immediatly, distract her by giving the "look!" command. Let her sit or lay down with the back to other influences and face to you. It deescalates fights immediatly.

    Before they give those signs of beeing stressed, they start with calming signals. Whenever you see a calming signal, this is your moment to step in!

    (I'm sorry the video is not very easy to watch, but what she says is worth watching)

    You can answer the calming signals, it helps.

    That should help. Don't listen to Cesar Milan, nevertheless I like watching his show, his training methods are not suitable for an anxious dog.

    Good luck. I am sorry not living in the US, I'd love to help you. Believe me, everything you invest now into the dog you'll get back 1000 times.

    P.S.: mind that I did not loose a word about socialisation - well, time slot missed. But that doesn't mean that there is no hope. I guess she will stay more anxious than other dogs for the rest of her life, but... well... that's how it is. Your task is to give her the confidence " ok, even if I don't know how to handle the stress and even if I am freaked out, the human beeing on my side will be able to handle the situation for me. He / she is my rock". That is your goal.

  9. as I didn't quote you on my first reply I do it now, hoping that you get a quotation message.

    If you decided not to rehome her, here is a video how to do the look / watch me - command:

    You don't have to work with a clicker. But mind, the treat must be extraordinary. Peanut butter is something most dogs (actually I don't know one dog that would not) would do everything for.
  10. Thank you for taking time to give me these great tips. I didn't get message notice , and it was too painful to think about the event. My family decided to keep her, since rehoming doesn't guarantee a better life for her. We keep her in house, but give her exercise by play fetch 2-3x a day. We had some obedience training before, so I keep practicing that with her. She was traumatized by the whole experience (got quarantined 2 days at the pound), so she is happy to be home. I'll definitely try your tips!