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I've never posted here before and I have no clue how to post under the training. It wont let me reply to half the treads anyway.

So, my issue is this. I have a 12 week old German shepherd puppy. I've had her since she was born, I own momma. We decided to keep her because of her special markings and unique personality. I learned my first time around that I need to socialize the crap out of her lol because momma stayed with me out on a farm with no neighbors really... so she's very loud and doesn't like other dogs. I live in the city now with a bigger backyard and Alice (my pup) is learning to be raised here. Which is nice. Mom has been going to behavior classes to help so I can now take her on walks through my neighborhood and to the dog park. So, my issue is a very very timid pup...

I have been going to a lot of puppy play at petco with Alice and she has no fear of other dogs or people. She's actually almost the perfect pup, she wont jump on people she'll sit patiently and wait for loves, she wants to play with every dog/puppy at the stores, and doesn't "act out/freak" when another dog snaps at her or barks at her. So, I have absolutely no idea why I'm having soooo much problem with potty training.
Alice knows sit and down but it took awhile to teach her and I had to be extremely patient because she would nervous potty every single time I'd ask for the command. For example, when we first started sit I'd have to assist her and push her butt down. When I did that she would nervous potty...
She does the same when I call her to me. She knows her name and will come but for some reason she wants to hide. Once she knows you just want to pet her she's the happiest pup alive. If someone in the house raises their voice she runs off peeing and hiding.
We weren't even yelling at her! lol We were watching the game on TV and got shouting and next thing I noticed was her scurrying off whining like she was dying and peeing as she went.
I have NEVER in my entire life come across a German Shepherd who is this timid. I have not once hit her or anything. I'm getting frustrated though, this is my first time training using positive reinforcement and that's all I've been doing for her. I've got bells on my door that I got from the store to help potty train and watched the video. I've been doing that for 2 weeks now and NO progress.
I'm thinking I just need some good ideas on building confidence? Building trust? I mean she is sooo spoiled and loved it's unreal that she acts this way. She's only known one home her entire life and has never been traumatized. I had one friend tell me that she could have been born with anxiety but is this a thing?

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It would be easier to answer these questions in list form.

1. Potty training. She's 12 weeks old - still very much a baby. Expecting her to be potty trained is like expecting a 6 month old human child to no longer be wearing diapers. Puppies don't generally have the neurological development to have a reliable warning system for when they need to eliminate until they're around six months of age.

2. "Positive reinforcement" training. You say this is the first time you've used it. Do you use corrections? A stern 'no', a raised voice at her, anything like that? Just so you know, forcing a dog to sit by pushing its butt down is called 'coercion', and that is NOT a positive method. Positive reinforcement relies on the idea of luring or capturing a wanted behavior without making any physical contact with the dog that is forcing the dog to perform the behavior. She may have gotten scared and peed because you were forcing her to do something unfamiliar, or uncomfortable.

3. Reactivity, anxiety and fear are absolutely genetic behaviors. A puppy who is born predisposed to these behaviors can have their fears and anxieties worsened by improper training methods and improper socialization. It sounds like your puppy was predisposed to these types of anxieties, and then her fears were made worse by the training methods you were using. You say she was never traumatized, but the problem with that is that *she* gets to determine what she finds traumatic, *you* don't. If she's scared enough to urinate, that's trauma - both forcing her to sit down and you yelling at the tv were traumatic incidents *in her mind*. Unintentional on your part, but still traumatic.

Moving forward:

1. Be patient with potty training. Potty training is about management and making sure her trips outside are often enough that she doesn't have accidents inside. Take her outside frequently (once every 30 minutes or so). Praise and reward when she goes outside. When she goes inside do not scold her, just clean it up with enzymatic cleaner and take her out more frequently after that. Expect her ability to 'hold it' and to use bells to warn you that she needs to go to improve around six months old.

2. My recommendation would be to absolutely stop using any sort of coercion on this puppy. Do more research about positive reinforcement training. Zak George and kikopup on Youtube are great places to start watching videos.

2 and a quarter. If yelling in your house scares her, don't yell. Hold back the excited football game yells so that she can learn that your house is a safe place and scary things don't happen there.

2 and a half. Socializing a fearful puppy is important, but "socialize" doesn't mean "go to the local pet store and flood her with new people/sights/smells/sounds/dogs. That's too much, and can create a negative fearful response from her. You need to very carefully formulate her socializing plan so that she only has positive experiences and never gets overwhelmed.

2 and three quarters. She could be going through a fear period, but I find this amount of fear out of a 12 week old puppy to be concerning. I would expect her to be a timid and fearful dog all of her life. I think both she and you would benefit from a very solid training foundation. As soon as she's old enough, I'd highly recommend signing up for puppy classes at a local positive reinforcement training facility. I am currently dealing with a dog who was probably very much like your puppy when he was young, and now his anxiety has worsened to the point that he will likely need to be medicated to lead a normal life. It is SO important that you do everything you can with her to set her up for success.

3. Since this is genetic, and it seems like your bitch also has some behavioral issues you're working with, I'd highly recommend not breeding her again. And also since this is genetic, be prepared for the fact that you could do absolutely everything 100% right moving forward, and your puppy might still turn into a fearful and reactive adult. All you can do right now is focus on the day-to-day training, trust building exercises and ensuring that she has every opportunity to build confidence in you as an owner and in her interactions with her environment.
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