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 My new GSD is terribly afraid of my husband

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125theboss
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PostSubject: My new GSD is terribly afraid of my husband   Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:52 pm

We recently adopted two GSD brothers from a close family friend. (We regularly adopt, train, and find new homes for GSD's) They have been together since birth, so naturally we adopted both. The couple we adopted them from simply didn't have time to give them the life they felt they deserved. One of the brothers, Solomon, is out-going, fun, and loves EVERYONE. As long as your petting him, you're his best friend. His brother, Gabe, is a different story. Gabe was always deeply attached to Doug (the man we adopted him from), but was also fiercely loyal to his wife. When we started visiting them to get to know the dogs better, Gabe immediately took to me. He showed a lot of timidness towards my husband right away. Once we brought them home, Gabe's loyalty to me increased ten-fold; but so did his fear of my husband. He is cautious and slow to make up with any new people, but he's shown virtually no progress with him. He cowers, runs, or squeezes into the tightest place he can find to hide. My husband said that if he didn't know Doug better, he would say Gabe was beat. But we know for an absolute fact that that wasn't the case. Any other men, Gabe will warm up to, given time. It's frustrating to my husband, since he can't socialize with Gabe. He can't even let the boys run while I'm not home, since Gabe refuses to go anywhere near him or listen when he calls. If he raises his voice, even at Solomon, Gabe immediately hides. We've tried slowly introducing them, sitting in their kennel (both together and just him alone), letting my husband administer food and water, etc. Gabe will seem to make progress, but the next day, or even an hour later, it's right back where we started. Does anyone have any ideas as to why Gabe would show such a tremendous fear of him? He has never even thought of raising a hand to any of our dogs, including Solomon and our 'original' GSD, Rock. They both listen wonderfully and are very respectful. I love my husband, and I love Gabe. (He's the first dog that's been truly "mine") I want so badly for Gabe to trust him, so we can function together. Thank you for any ideas or advice!
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PostSubject: Re: My new GSD is terribly afraid of my husband   Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:21 pm

Ok well first off welcome to k9academy! Glad to have you here!

Next, not sure if you've had a chance to look at this page on K9Domain that talks all about fearful dogs. I've even included a section about fearful of people. I know its a lot of reading but when dealing with a fearful dog its always good to know as much about the subject as possible. Here's the link in case you haven't seen it http://k9domain.org/fearful.aspx

It really does seem you are going about this the right way, especially letting your hudsband take care of water, food, and stuff like that. The fact that you see even a little improvement is a VERY good sign. Most dogs may not show improvement at all, so keep that in mind. In truth this is definitely not something that will solve itself in a month or two...it really may take a lot longer. So whatever you are doing to get Gabe to warm up to your hudsband even for a little while...this has to become pretty much a lifestyle until you start seeing lasting changes.

As to WHY Gabe has this problem, it most likely stems from some bad experience with men at a very young age...

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PostSubject: Re: My new GSD is terribly afraid of my husband   Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:31 pm

IMHO, dogs who fear certain people watch the way those certain people move. Bigger men with booming voices can be intimidating. Watch how a woman walks as opposed to the way a man walks. Facial hair can also make them look WAY different, as can eyeglasses and hats. Perhaps men even smell more intimidating to some dogs.
Nonetheless, fear is fear. If I acquire a dog that is fearful of me, I simply sit quietly and try to appear as relaxed as possible in or at least near their space as often as I can and at any glance or movement toward me, I smile and quietly praise.
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PostSubject: Re: My new GSD is terribly afraid of my husband   Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:02 pm

It may also be something as simple as a smell. I had a friend that his dog barked and raised Holy Hell when he smelled AXE body spray. (We think so kid was teasing the dog and was wearing AXE ... and the dog recognised the smell).

Tell hubby to continue watering and feeding. Also have him sit in the middle of the floor with some small bits of treats. When Gabe comes ANYWHERE near him, have him drop a treat behind himself at a distance. The dog will figure out that when he's around hubby, he get treats and only GOOD things happen.

Make sure hubby remains calm, and doesn't make any kind of quick moves or makes eye contact.

You can also do this with YOU and Hubby sitting on the floor. Since Gabe trusts you, he will soon find that if you trust "this guy" he can also. The key is to keep hubby from appearing to be something to be frightened of. He must only be a POSITIVE thing to Gabe.

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125theboss
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PostSubject: Re: My new GSD is terribly afraid of my husband   Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:02 pm

Thanks so much for all of your help! I've tried to explain things to my husband about not popping around the corner unannounced and 'spooking' the dogs accidentally, or trying to keep his voice calm and soothing while he's around Gabe. We've been trying, but Gabe can't help cowering at his presense. I began thinking that perhaps it was a smell thing, not an appearance. So when I took Gabe into the house by myself the other day, I decided to pull out one of my husband's worn shirts, just to see how Gabe would react. He walked over to me like normal, but as soon as he caught the scent, he laid his ears back, tucked his tail, and left the room scared. I felt terrible, because after that incident, it took quite a few tries before he would even go back into the bedroom. My husband is really trying to keep his patience with the situation. He's never had a dog react like this, so it's pretty frustrating to him. But I definitely have faith that this will all work out! I'm not sure if I should try a variety of things, or just stick to one "plan" for a while, to see if it works. I didn't know if too much might not be a good thing. What do you guys think: stick to one plan (i.e. husband feeding and watering for a while), or try to introduce others at the same time (like sitting with treats)? Also, with the treat idea, anytime Gabe is around him, he finds somewhere to hide, and doesn't come out. How long should we sit and wait for him before it's "too much"? Thanks again so much for your help!
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PostSubject: Re: My new GSD is terribly afraid of my husband   Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:25 pm

If Gabe leaves the room, try putting a few "smelly treats" (Baggin' Strips or some fresh cooked chicken bits) at the doorway and just go about your business. Maybe have hubby carry a few of them in his pocket after you know Gabe likes them. (Its the ol' TIE A PORKCHOP AROUND HIS NECK TO GET THE DOG TO PLAY WITH HIM" thing) ...

The whole thing is to get hubby's smell to be associated with GOOD THINGS. But you must do it at Gabe's pace. Ive seen this take weeks and months to get a dog completely comfortable.

You may also try working outside as well. Take Gabe for a walk and when you return, have hubby standing off to the side where you "kinda" have to walk by him at a distance. Have hubby put some treats down every few feet while you are gone, so that Gabe has to stop to eat the treats in front of hubby. As Gabe gets more comfortable, hubby can move a step or two closer.

To do this, start hubby at about 30 feet away. If Gabe reacts, move back until he doesn't react to hubby's presence.

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