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Hello everyone. I come here looking for advice on how to get my 2 year old german shepherd/German Pointer mix from crying/whimpering when in unfamiliar situations. I feel as if I've tried everything and nothing seems to be working.

First a little about my girl. I got her as a puppy and she was always pretty naughty, while I know that is to be expected her behavoir went above and beyond normal jumping and puppy troubles. I live in the center of Prague but have access to a large park only two blocks from my house. For those of you who don't know, the czech republic is an extremely dog friendly city and you can take your dog almost anywhere here. To bars, restaurants, even to the supermarket. This city is full of very well behaved dogs and most aren't even leashed. Enter my little girl Jedi. She's extremely (I've had dogs before, and I mean that, extremely) hyperactive and nervous. Every time she leaves the house she looks around as if she is experiencing everything for the first time, even though she is walked at least three times a day.

No matter what I do I can't for the life of me get her to heel. I've tried turning around when she pulls, I've tried pinch collars (which worked for about three days), and I've been to three different dog training courses, and even a dog psychologist. And nothing. It's as if she's literally hasn't progressed at all. I'm still keeping up with it however, and she gets at least 30 to 45 minutes of running every day, and two 10 minute obedience sessions.

She is quite good at obedience and quickly jumps into every trick I want her to do. She can even learn new tricks very quickly after only 15 to 20 repetitions. The main problem I have now is her whimpering and crying, heeling, greeting and jumping on strangers, and an inability to sit still. For the life of me I can't get her to do these things. Currently she goes to the park for a run, which is followed by about a 15 minute walk (she will heel sometimes after a long run, but that's probably because she's just tired, and walk slower). I then take her to a circulating door (she hates swoooshing and scraping noises and Im trying to desensitize her to it) and then I take her to the metro station where she has to lie down and get accustomed to having a lot of people walking around her. But during this whole time in the metro, or when we have visitors, or when she's in any uncomfortable situation she will start whimpering and crying. I know that the conventional advice is that she just needs to be exposed to the things she gets nervous about the most. Well, I've done that for over a year now and she hasn't improved at all. Literally, she's exactly the same as she was before.

Currently when she starts whimpering I will kind of touch her above her leg, and make a quick shush sound. But she doesn't shush. In fact this last christmas we had the family over, and while I can get her to stay on her spot while company is over, I just can't get her to shut up. She cried for over 6 hours on this occasion.

So to sum things up. What is the best way to get a crying dog to stop?

It is really unfortunate that she is unhappy because Prague is such a great city to have dogs in. There are parks everywhere, and 99 percent of dog interactions I've had are non agressive, well adjusted dogs. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
 

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Here are my thoughts on your situation. :)

I know that the conventional advice is that she just needs to be exposed to the things she gets nervous about the most. Well, I've done that for over a year now and she hasn't improved at all. Literally, she's exactly the same as she was before.
That indicates that your exposure is too strong. In other words, you need to back away from the stimulus a ways. Imagine taking a person who has a fear of water and tossing them in water over their head for a year... They're still afraid of water and it's no wonder. :) They need to sit by the side of the pool for a while and have good experiences related to that before taking the next step. You're on the right track, but you're trying to take too big a bite.

Teach your dog to "focus" or "watch me" (I suggest using a clicker or other marker method for this.) Then, once you back away from the object of anxiety to the point BEFORE your dog starts getting whiny, you can practice "watch me" and some obedience commands before moving closer. If you move close enough that she becomes anxious, back off for a while.

This link is about Desensitizing Dogs to Other Dogs, but the idea is the same, regardless what your dog is sensitive to.

Currently when she starts whimpering I will kind of touch her above her leg, and make a quick shush sound. But she doesn't shush.
Then that's not working. Do something different. :)

In fact this last christmas we had the family over, and while I can get her to stay on her spot while company is over, I just can't get her to shut up. She cried for over 6 hours on this occasion.
That just adds to her anxiety. Remove her from the situation. Crate her or contain her in another room with a frozen Kong. Exercise her well before situations such as this. A tired dog is a good dog. :)

Prague sounds like a dog-lover's dream! Unfortunately, your dog isn't ready to experience it just yet. Lead her in more gently and don't force her into situations that cause anxiety. And YOU be sure to remain calm and not get anxious while training her.

Good luck!
 

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Thank you for the advice. Perhaps I am pushing her too much. I'll cut back a little bit on that front. I also am really interested in teaching her to "watch me". I haven't heard of that tactic before, but it makes sense. Thanks again! And Jedi says thank you as well :)
 

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You might also want to take a look at the Tellington Touch method and practice some of the calming massages/handling techniques. I also recommend the book Calming Signals by Turid Rugass.
 

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Don't speak to her while she is whimpering/crying, any contact, touch, look, or talk can all give her the added reassurance to remain scared.

I also agree that she may be getting to much stimulation.

When exposing her to the spinning doors, maybe start far, far, away from it before getting her closer. The first sign or whinning going near it means you need to be further from it then that until she is comfortable. Progress only goes as fast as your dog allows it. Yes you do need to desensitize her, but placing her in the situations without creating that situation little by little (lowest stimuli to highest stimuli) is not going to get her anywhere.

When you restart desensitizing her, start slow. Only do it 2-4 times a weeks at most for 2 minutes (slowly work the time up too once she becomes more relaxed). If you move her closer to what she is scared of, go back to a short time limit and work her up again. Slow progress is the fastest :)

A good book is: CHILLOUT FIDO! How to Calm your dog BY Nan Kene Arthur
 
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