Adopted a dog

(12 Posts)
Wheresmybiscuit3 Tue 13-Apr-21 09:40:34

Hello all,

Really looking for advice. A family member had a lovely German Shepard cross dog which he adopted from abroad as a pup. Dog has always been clingy and not overly socialised except with two particular dogs.

Dog is now 4 and the owner had another deterioration in his health and is very poorly so unable to take care of the dog. Because of his health the dog wasn’t walked as often as it should have been.

I have happily adopted the dog as I had been looking for a dog since prior to Covid and I know the dog well.

Prior to this dog I did have a boxer dog but that was quite a few years ago.

I am going to see a trainer and see how I can help, but I did have a question which I hope you can help me with.

Will my dog ever get used to other animals and stop barking, pulling and lunging? She absolutely loves her walks but we have had to join the 6am / 9pm club and I am on high alert for other animals constantly.

She absolutely will not take treats outside so I am finding it very difficult to reward good behaviour except for vocally.

She exhibits quite strong attachment issues whenever one of our family gets too far ahead or for instance if they go into a shop. She will lunge to follow and cry.

She is a really lovely dog. She just needs some help and guidance and I wondered if any of you could tell me what I can do to help until I see a trainer.

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Wheresmybiscuit3 Tue 13-Apr-21 09:45:31

I obviously don’t dare let her off the lead due to this even though her recall isn’t too bad

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AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 13-Apr-21 10:29:15

Will my dog ever get used to other animals and stop barking, pulling and lunging? She absolutely loves her walks but we have had to join the 6am / 9pm club and I am on high alert for other animals constantly.

In a nutshell, what's happening here is that your dog is scared of the other dogs, and is barking to make the scary thing go away. It's part of a pattern of behaviours - which are more common than many people talk about - known as being "reactive".

It's possible to make huge strides with this, but it's best to keep your expectations realistic - this is probably not a dog that's ever going to be running around the park playing with other dogs.

The way this is normally dealt with is to reprogramme the dog's emotional response. I'm going to massively oversimplify it, but in a nutshell the idea is to take the dog from understanding that 'dog = scary thing' to 'dog = yummy treat = not so scary after all'

You really do need a properly qualified behaviourist (not trainer - there's a big difference) to teach you this in practice. APBC and CCAB are the gold standard qualifications and you can find lists of their qualified people at

In the meantime, keep her away from other dogs as much as possible. You may like to try using a secure dog walking field, which will allow her an off lead runaround without fear of other dogs intruding

My own dog is reactive to motorbikes - he lunges and barks at them. This would be a non-issue if we lived in the countryside, but we live in the inner city, where you can't walk down the road without seeing several of them. Anyway, after a lot of hard work (blood, sweat, tears... literally) we've now got to the point where if one drives straight past us then he'll simply look at me and await a treat. If one stops in front of us (e.g. at a pedestrian crossing) then he's unlikely to cope with that and we'll walk away (down someone's garden path if necessary!) so that he can cope. He's never going to love motorbikes, but I've got him to the point where we can live with it!

She absolutely will not take treats outside so I am finding it very difficult to reward good behaviour except for vocally.

I'm afraid this is another sign of just how scared she is by the outside world right now. Very scared dogs just feel so nervous that they can't eat at all.

She's probably got a lot of cortisol (long term stress hormone) running through her at the moment. A lot of people will advocate taking a few days off walks - but doing lots of brain games at home to tire her out - to allow the stress hormones to deplete a bit.

What treats are you using by the way? For work on reactivity, you want some really high value treats - Primula cheese is often recommended, though I found that DDog loves Tubidog liver pate (each come in a tube for easy delivery!)

This is a good support group by the way

Anyway, long story short, progress can definitely be made, but you really need to see a properly qualified behaviourist.

She exhibits quite strong attachment issues whenever one of our family gets too far ahead or for instance if they go into a shop. She will lunge to follow and cry.

I think this is relatively normal - my own dog will do it too. This is a dog that will teach you to pick your battles - and this is not a battle I've ever considered worth the effort!

Wheresmybiscuit3 Tue 13-Apr-21 16:25:21

Thank you. That’s very, very helpful. I have submitted my application to join the group and am just hoping to find a behaviour specialist near me who will work in person. Fingers crossed! It’s still early days

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magicstar1 Tue 13-Apr-21 16:43:39

I hate to say it, but she probably won't totally get over it. We adopted a GSD last August with the same issues. It's defintely fear based...I've seen her cower on the ground when a tiny dog ran at her. Then as she got more confident, she barked and snarled to warn them away. I still have elbow problems from her lunging at a dog last September! We figured out what treats she does like, and distract, distract, distract all the time while walking. Now she only reacts to maybe 1 in 4 dogs, and will sit and focus on me when called.
What really helped was a Halti nose harness, along with her normal one. It stopped her pulling so much and she got more used to walking nicely by my side and couldn't get to those dogs.
It's getting easier with time, but is definitely a long term project, and I can't see her ever playing with other dogs, but it is getting better, and she's a gorgeous, lovable, fluffball.

Wheresmybiscuit3 Wed 14-Apr-21 09:03:48

Thank you @magicstar1 I must admit I can distract her on walks with fuss and attention but that’s about it. It’s very early days. It’s not even been a week. If she doesn’t ever get over it then it will make life a bit more tricky but we will make it work.

She absolutely loves walks. She goes so bouncy and excited when I’m getting her harness. It’s very new to her as she didn’t really go on walks after my relative became less able.

She’s slowly getting used to our poultry (she can’t get to them as they are fenced, and we would never leave them unsupervised)... and when I say that I mean she doesn’t bark as much at them as she did but she does watch them.

When I came home yesterday she wanted to play in the garden running around with me so that IS new and I believe a bit of progress as she wasn’t as focused on the birds.

All these little bits of progress spur me on. She’s such a loving dog always craving fuss. I am trying to be very realistic about it.

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AvocadosBeforeMortgages Wed 14-Apr-21 10:38:59

It sounds like she's coming along very nicely!

One thing I'd work on is teaching her a "let's go!" or "this way" command that indicates a change in direction. Teach it in the garden / a non-stressfull environment, and then take it outdoors. That way, when you see another dog you can walk away from it (thing of the fight / flight choice - you're teaching her that running away from the scary thing is a good choice) rather than just distracting her.

Given she's only been there a week, I'd be trying to work on bonding with her, to start developing trust. There are lots of ways to do this - interactive games (for instance, tug of war or fetch) but also doing some basic training - preferably some where she can have lots of success (e.g. if she knows a sit do some of those, with lots of treats, and things like a nose touch can be easily taught but are probably new to your dog)

She’s such a loving dog always craving fuss

You mentioned in your OP that she's too nervous to take treats while outside. Obviously you want to get her to a stage where she's not that nervous, but don't forget that fuss can be used as a reward too!

Floralchickens Wed 14-Apr-21 21:50:16

Hi, our 4 year old adopted dog was the same, after 6 months if training, he will now walk and ignore other dogs and today he even wagged his tail at 2 little dogs who came over to him smile

We had little chicken bitesize treats which he loves but was only given one when he saw another dog, then as the dogs got closer he had another treat and as the dog walked past, he got another (we got through bags of them at first!) and then slowly we eased the treats so now he gets one once we’ve walked past- he turns for the treat automatically grin we give lots of praise too.

It’s been difficult as we found that we would have a few days of progress then a dog not on a leash would run up to us and cause a reaction (with stupid owners telling me not to worry, their dog is friendly angry. I would reply, well mine isn’t!) that would set back the training and he would go for dogs again.

But persevere, go on walks at time you know you’ll only meet a few dogs (for us it’s 10am and the dog park only has the same few elderly owners walking their elderly dogs so they’re calmer) and try a high value treat (maybe ham?) that he really can’t resist.

I hope you get it sorted, our dog is so lovely at home and it’s nice now that he’s seen as friendly on walks, instead of people looking at him in horror thinking he was an aggressive dog, when in actual fact he was just scared because of being attacked in his previous home sad

StillMedusa Thu 15-Apr-21 00:55:34

I have a reactive dog.. (had her from a puppy, socialised her, did puppy training.. the works but after her second season she became reactive) and the Reactive Dogs UK FB group is fabulous.. it now costs £3 a month and worth it imo.

Mine's a mix of frustrated greeter and scared witless of certain sometimes she's fine, sometimes she is a growly mess. She also likes to rush past unknown dogs with a growl ..getting the first word in..and then turns back to say hello!

A long line ,(for fields and country parks) a Ruffwear treats bag (expensive but so much better that the rest) and s shed load of high value treats are your friend. See scary thing.. chuck treats down dogs neck til scary thing passes. Then stop when scary dog has passed.
Repeat... endessly. It works!

Mine can now pass the majority of dogs ok, and can be off lead and play with ones she has met a few times and relaxed with. SHe will never be 'perfect' with other dogs and she doesn't like strangers trying to touch her ..but that's fine.. she loves us!
Essentially you are slowly reconditioning your dog to associate a scary thing (and reactivity is fear) with something good.. cheese, ham, whatever really does it for your dog. It also builds a great relationship with your dog, but you have to be far away enough from the scary thing for treats to work,..if she is too tense to take a treat,., you are too close (even if it's 50 metres away!)

Also.. she's new. I'd ditch walks entirely (or limit them to very isolated places) and let her settle..just get to know you. Apparently it takes aboutn3-4 months for a dog to settle in a new home. Don't think she HAS to be walked.. she doesn't yet. Play games in the garden..get recall going with a whistle until she dashes to you when she hears it (for a treat)

And look up a positive behaviourist. RDUK will point you to one in your area, They are expensive but worth it!

catsrus Thu 15-Apr-21 12:47:35

If you can successfully distract her with fuss and attention then you can train her 😎.

It will take time and patience, but the fact that she will choose you over a distraction is a HUGE sign that she's trainable. Good luck 🤞

Sitdowncupoftea Mon 19-Apr-21 12:16:06

@Wheresmybiscuit3 You will get different advice on here but my advice is from experience. If your GSD won't take treats does he have a ball or toy for distraction method on walks. Muzzle train if your dogs going to lunge at other dogs. Personally it needs de sensitisation. Sit in the park on a quite day or somewhere from a distance you can people watch to slowly get your dog use to other things. Don't write the dog off GSD are lovely dogs and no matter what age all dogs can be retrained.

Wheresmybiscuit3 Tue 20-Apr-21 21:05:55

@Sitdowncupoftea we definitely aren’t writing her off. Slowly but surely I know we will get there. She’s eating more than she did with her previous owner, so that’s a good sign as she was very picky apparently but we seem to have hit on the right combo.

I seem to be able to distract her with fuss so we have been doing that. Also going to try with a high quality treat.

I will take her to a park in the day / evening when I think it will be quiet and give it a go.

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