I Have a One Year Old Shepherd Who is Scared of Everyone but Me, My Sister and Mother What do I do?

by Shannon
(Calgary, AB, Canada)

I just got a German Shepherd who is just over a year old, he Loves me and my mom and sister, but he runs like he is about to have a heart attack from anyone else but the 3 of us, what can I do to get him used to other people?

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Jan 07, 2010
Fearful Shepherd
by: Donna - dog-beds-n-beyond

Hi Shannon,

This is an issue that may take some time and patients.

If you can identify the root cause it would be helpful. Watch for triggers, ie. certain types of people, places or situations.

Here are some reason dogs become fearful of people...

- limited social interaction at an early age

- emotional trauma

- possible physical abuse if you have a shelter dog

- a recent move

Dogs need to be socialized with people and other dogs when they are young (before 3 months) or they can be fearful of people and other dogs as they mature. This is the cornerstone to raising a dog that is comfortable with humans. So, early
frequent and positive encounters with people of all ages and types throughout the first year is important for emotional growth. Additionally, exposing your dog to different environments, sights and sounds early on is a good thing. Since your Shepherd is already a year old, it will take time and effort on yours, your mom's and your sister's part to modify this behavior.

Usually a behavioral consultation is needed for dogs that are showing extreme fear. If the fear is mild, then your help may be enough to prevent it from progressing.

Be cautious when your Shepherd is around people. Do not force him to be friendly. This is a process that will take time. Maybe friends that you trust could help you, do not force a dog to interact with these people. Let the dog decide when he is ready to venture closer. If your Shepherd chooses not to engage with the person. That's OK. The dog will find his comfort zones over time. Give your friends a really tasty dog treat to tempt you pet, but have them keep their distance and let you dog make the first move. No eye contact, this may scare you dog away.

Since I do not know the reason behind your dog's fear, it is difficult for me to advise you. I do, however, recommend these very good books that can help you with this problem and can be purchased here...

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