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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a wonderful German shepherd that my family and I love to death. My parents got me the dog, but since we live together, there are some disagreements on how she should be treated.

Some basic information first: She’s four years old and entirely bonded with me, rarely leaving my side. She’s a rescue with a fear of men and long objects like umbrellas and flashlights due to a past of abuse. It used to be that anything held above my head would make her flinch (I tried not to do this tho). She was also used for breeding and still has protruding nipples, over 3 years later. She’s better now for sure, the poor girl, but she’s still a bit different than most dogs because of it. She also has really bad separation anxiety.

My problem is, she doesn’t like my dad all that much. He tries so hard and she’s super sweet so she tries to like him too, but he just doesn’t seem to understand her.

For example: She’s crate trained, and sleeps in my room. I have a weird sleep schedule and often stay up rather late. I try not to disturb her, but I don’t think it’s an issue since I hear her snoring through my gaming sessions. I’m not loud for the entire night straight, and often times it’s just me sitting quietly with headphones on, but my dad seems to think that the fact that my light is on, and I’m not 100% quiet is why she doesn’t sleep the whole night. He thinks dogs sleep for the whole night straight like humans.

Another example: he plays with her like he would a toddler. He likes wiggling his fingers and dancing, both of which make her whine and sometimes run to me. Or he’ll steal her toys and put them all around the house to get her to grab them, like a scavenger hunt.

Another: while she patrols the house (checking in with everyone, and watching the street/ driveway for cars and people to bark at), he thinks she wants to play, and will chase her down the hallway, or have her chase him in the direction of my room. He views it as a game, but she seems rather panicked.

Another: he likes to bend over her to pet her. He’s 6’2”, so she goes flat to the ground when he does. She often stares at me and licks her lips a lot too, during all of these for reassurance.

Am I wrong about any of these? She’s everyones first dog, so I definitely could be. I just want what’s best for her and it’s so obvious that she doesn’t like these things, or him for that matter. We’re inseparable and she really is my best friend, so it’s hard to watch her like this. If you have articles or advice or ANYTHING that would get my dad to change his behavior, or get me to realize he’s not wrong, I’d be grateful. Thank you for reading my long post, regardless.
 

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Those behaviors are typically a part of personality/temperament rather than a past experience. This is why some dogs who were beat by their previous owners can go into a home with no timid behavior, while others can grow up in a loving calm home and be afraid you're going to hit them with an object you pick up. From what I am reading it seems more like you may be humanizing her and treating her as though she has PTSD, which is more of a human disorder.

She is offering appeasement gestures, a dog doing this isn't necessarily 'suffering'.
Finger dancing doesn't mean much to dogs unless you create an association, she is perhaps confused but it doesn't sound like she is necessarily afraid. The toy hiding is actually a good activity, this is considered an enrichment game. The chasing is the main thing I am reading that may be a stressor.

I can't suggest how to change your dad's mind, I don't know him or how he thinks in order to know how to convince him to change his behavior. I would instead suggest building her confidence instead of catering to her insecurities. There are many confidence building exercises, google things and watch plenty of videos and figure out what works for her!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Those behaviors are typically a part of personality/temperament rather than a past experience. This is why some dogs who were beat by their previous owners can go into a home with no timid behavior, while others can grow up in a loving calm home and be afraid you're going to hit them with an object you pick up. From what I am reading it seems more like you may be humanizing her and treating her as though she has PTSD, which is more of a human disorder.

She is offering appeasement gestures, a dog doing this isn't necessarily 'suffering'.
Finger dancing doesn't mean much to dogs unless you create an association, she is perhaps confused but it doesn't sound like she is necessarily afraid. The toy hiding is actually a good activity, this is considered an enrichment game. The chasing is the main thing I am reading that may be a stressor.

I can't suggest how to change your dad's mind, I don't know him or how he thinks in order to know how to convince him to change his behavior. I would instead suggest building her confidence instead of catering to her insecurities. There are many confidence building exercises, google things and watch plenty of videos and figure out what works for her!
I don’t mean to treat her like she has PTSD, I’ll try to keep that in mind. I still think she is sometimes scared when he makes a lot of noise and movement around her, like the dancing, but perhaps it is confusion too.

She doesn’t really understand toys to be honest. She can’t play fetch and just likes cuddling with them. They seem more like a comfort object to her, which is kind of why it bothers me when he takes them. She licks them more than she bites them, but she does play with them sometimes?

The confidence thing I can totally get behind though. I’d be nice to see her more confident. Thanks for replying with your advice! I appreciate it.
 

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Your father isn't wrong in itself...plenty of people do play with their dogs that way, but for this particular dog, yes, I do think he needs to adjust his behavior. She is displaying stress signals, which he is ignoring. You didn't mention how long you have had her. It may be that she is still adjusting to your home, too, and it will take some time for her to come out of her shell.

Interacting with her using toys is fine. Some dogs don't really know what toys are, and that they're for playing. You might suggest to your dad that he try teaching the dog the "Find It" game. So hide her toys, and every time she finds one she gets a treat. Dogs aren't going to get that they're supposed to go and find the toys just because you hide them, but if you teach her what she is supposed to do she might find it enjoyable.

You could also teach your dad to teach the dog these games. Putting toys back in a bucket, putting her feet in a box. Look up 100 things to do with a box. Your dad just seems to want to play with her, so we're going to treat him a bit like a dog and instead of telling him what he's doing is wrong, we're going to redirect to an alternate behavior, haha. Hopefully, he'll see the difference between a happy dog who enjoys the activity rather than a dog who is confused but tolerating it.

And, maybe, as she gains more confidence she will enjoy the games he likes, too.
 
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