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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all

Just rescued a 6month old German Shepherd cross pup from the SPCA. It's day 4 and I'm getting as anxious as he is now!

His early life exposure was limited to his siblings only so people and the outside world gets him anxious easily.

I've picked up great tips using treats to create positive associations with new things we introduce him to, however I've hit a roadblock now. When he's outside, the stimulus is so create that it is not possible to capture his attention; he's curious and anxious and stops eating when it happens so treats and commands don't work when we're outside.

I know it's only day 4, but I hope to hear from someone's experience: would it get better as he spends more and more time outside and hopefully can start to focus and not be distracted by everything? I think as long as he's able to settle outside and feel comfortable to eat, training him would get easier and make the world less scary for him is that correct?

He's already extra anxious with certain things, like getting into a car. It feels like he didn't have a positive experience previously with cars, is it possible to turn that around with the pup, is the negative associate permanent?

Thank you!
 

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You're on the right track. Typically, when a dog is not taking treats and not responding to commands, they are 'over threshold' which basically means they are past the point of being able to learn. If he 's not reacting or anything, I would just sit down and let him explore. Let him watch. Your pup may be anxious simply because he wasn't well socialized, or he may be genetically anxious. Time will tell which it is.

For now, stick to your yard, your front lawn, your driveway, and don't venture far beyond them until the pup is comfortable. Feed him treats for exploring new things, introduce him to new objects like tarps on the ground, all simple things you can do in your home. I would give him a few weeks before trying anything too stimulating. You can just sit on your front step with the dog on a long line and watch the world go by. I did a lot of that with my dog when I first got him, and it really helped him learn the way of the world and that its not a scary place.

Perhaps if he begins to become more comfortable, you can try an obedience class, which can be immensely helpful in creating more confidence in a dog and strengthening your bond.
 

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Hi Lillith

Thank you so much for your reassurance. Yes we have some great dog trainers recommended to us. I will definitely give the long line a try and have him more familiar with our property for a few more weeks.

Thanks again!
 

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Agreed on the "take some time to chill" kind of deal. Shelters are stressful for even the most mentally stable dogs. Compared to a home life, its kind of like the difference between say, a hazing week at boot camp vs a 9-5 job in an office. Rough analogy but it gives something to consider.

I think 2 weeks is a good chill time for most dogs in terms of not trying to do much of anything out in public. I have a fenced yard, so I do things like spread a picnic blanket in the shade and take a book outside and just sit with the dog. Let the dog sniff around, let the dog get some ear scratches from you and just generally expect nothing more than not being destructive/jumping the fence kinda thing. Minimal guests into the home but 1 person or 2 low-key people who will mostly ignore him is OK. Kids are often too exciting and borderline stressful for new pups, so hold off on any young visitors that aren't part of the household.

Then after 2-3 weeks of getting to know the dog and introducing the leash around on your property, I suggest 5 minute car rides and trips to quiet parks or parks during their off-hours. Basically places with few chances of running into a bunch of people biking or a game of football or anything of similar activity.

Overall, for most dogs, taking things slowly and building his trust in you will do the trick.
 
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