Anonymous
Anonymous asked in PetsDogs · 1 decade ago

Advice on my dog?

I just rescued a German Shepherd from an animal shelter, and she is so wonderful and so sweet and good, but we think someone who owned her before abused her. She gets so scared and jumpy at loud noises and flinches like shes been abused before. And no one has ever played with her in her life, she just doesn't know how, she will run after a ball and get excited at a toy squeak, but she doesn't understand what to do with it, she won't put anything in her mouth because she doesn't know what the toys are, she doesn't understand what playing is. I don't know how to get her to understand its okay to grab toys, and I don't know how to reassure her that no ones going to hurt her and that loud noises don't mean she is being scolded.

Help please, I just want this for her so she can be as happy as can be.

12 Answers

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  • LJG
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First, what a wonderful thing you have done to rescue a shelter dog. People are so into "Designer dogs" at the moment that shelter dogs go unloved, when they often have the most to share.

    Second, German Shepherds are working dogs, intelligent dogs, dogs with a "mission" so to speak. And it is in understanding these things that you can help her.

    When a dog has been abused, a lot of their natural instincts are quashed. Watch for what she is afraid of-- eg, the noises. Does she shrink from the phone when someone picks it up? Does she growl and bark at the newspaper, even when you're just turning the page? These are things my old shelter dog did, and it was incredibly sad to see.

    Your biggest allies are patience, and love. Understand that, as you said, she really doesn't know what to do. So throw a ball for her, encourage her to run after it. And when she gets it, even if she doesn't do anything with it, praise her with a cheerful, wonderfully excited voice. You are going to have to be her biggest cheerleader in life for awhile. Show her how happy you are when she does ANYTHING that seems like play. As gross as this may sound (try it with a new one if she has already attacked one of her squeaky toys), put a squeaky toy in your mouth and imitate what dogs do with it, making noises and tossing your head around to show her it's okay to attack it. Push it back and forth between your hands, across the floor. Show her hot to play. Involve her a little bit, and if in the beginning she just wants to watch, let her. But encourage every little movement she makes toward dogdom and puppy play (she seems to need to go back to puppy play, regardless of how old she is, in order to regain that part of her life). As a shepherd, her instinct is to chase that ball. Cheer, laugh, smile, praise, reward when she does! Use all those instinctive "mothery" sounds we use when we talk to small children and animals. Show her you are pleased.

    If she's afraid to put anything in her mouth, perhaps smear a little of something she likes on it-- squirty cheese, a tiny bit of peanut butter, something like that. So she is encouraged to get it near her mouth. And sometimes dogs don't care for the plastic sqeak toys-- my dog only likes the furry ones (eg-- ones disguised as slippers, bones, etc., with material and stuffing). Try a few different types.

    As for the noises, she might have grown up in a household that was abusive toward others, not just her, and heard a lot of screaming and yelling that was attached to strong negative emotions-- dogs feel that, of course, and connect with it forever. The best thing you can do with noises, is try not to let the house be "silent" if you can. When you're with her, have music on in the background, even tv, etc. Keep it on low. Play with her, show her affection, play normally, calmly, it's all okay. As she is comfortable with each level of noise, slowly increase the level. Continue acting as if all is normal. If she is a bit distressed by the level of sound, lower it to the level she is happy at again for a couple more days, then increase it a bit more, very slowly. Get her used to the sound at each level and happy there before you increase it. Continue to act as all is normal, as though the noise isn't there. Eventually, gradually, when she has progressed through a lot of levels, get someone to introduce a sudden noise, like a door shutting. When that happens. Remain light-hearted, "Whoops!"-- but never comfort a dog in her unbased fear-- to a dog, that is confirmation that there's something to be nervous about. Instinct in us is to cuddle and tell the dog there's nothing to be afraid of. In dog, they look for a pack leader, an alpha dog, to SHOW them what is acceptable, what is dangerous, and what's not. You have to show by example-- if the noise isn't scary, ignore it. If the toy is to play with, do it. Praise praise praise.

    You have months of work ahead of you, I won't kid you. But if you put your heart and soul into it, you will have the dog you were meant to have, and the she will be the dog she was born to be. You are doing a terrific thing. Good luck and God bless.

    Source(s): My own dogs, dog school, and lots of reading.
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  • jrbw01
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Just because a dog flinches at loud noises does not mean she was abused physically. She may have been ignored or just not socialized. She sounds much like the greyhounds that we rescue from the track. Never played with toys, not much "good" touching. Believe me, it will get better. Just give her a soft bed, plenty of toys, good food and tons and tons of love. Don't overdo it because German Shepherds need to have a strong alpha and that will be you and your family. You need to make sure she knows her place. You need to treat her like a dog not a human. This sounds cruel if you're not used to what I'm talking about but Shepherds are strong dogs and can take over if you let her. That could result in a dangerous situation.

    Kennel dogs or dogs that haven't been socialized should not be hit to correct her. A strong "no" should make her step back and leave it alone. Once she knows you're boss, you should have a wonderful pet. Best of luck.

    Source(s): Owner of two greyhounds and foster mom. http://www.greyhoundadoption.org/
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I too rescued a dog like yours. I know it is going to be hard, but just ignore her. Don't say a word if she is startled by loud noise. If you don't react, then she will realize, that there is nothing to fear. You will see, that she will take one step forward and two back. In time, after she works through it, and builds trust, she will start to play. There many great web sites that are helpful in dealing with shy, timid dogs. Good luck. You have done a wonderful thing giving this girl a chance at a new life.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I have gone through this with 2 of my cats. Take it slow when they get scared, talk to your dog reassuring him/her they are safe, but let them work it out. If they are on their leash, let them off so they can run from the noise. It will take awhile but your dog will become less scared in time.

    Teach your dog how to play, rough house a bit and see his/her reaction, find a toy that you and your dog can pull together at the same time. If you try to pet his/her head and the dog ducks or cowers they were abused, just be patient and aware what scares your dog. I had to put my cat in a room every time I mopped or swept until he learned I would not hurt him. Hang in there, it will be alright.

    Source(s): raised abused/abandoned pets
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  • 1 decade ago

    Thank you for adopting your new family member. I have also rescued dogs with some of the same issue. It takes great patience and time. When noise happens, reassuring her that no one is going to hurt her because you won't allow it is a first step. One of mine used to pee on the spot if anyone raise their voice even a bit. He is still scared of the vac, but he has learned that I will not tease him or use it to herd him, and he has learned that before I go near where he is with it, I will stop and let him pass on his own terms. As far as toys, sitting on the ground with her and gently putting it near her mouth until she takes it and then praising her even if she holds it only a moment will ease her tensions. It is all about letting her see by your actions/words that it is okay to be who she is. Allow her to do things in her own time and every time you see her pick up a toy, praise her and give her a nice long doggy massage which will relax her further. Actually giving her a massage at least once a day will help to calm her nerve until she learns, like mine, that rain tapping on a window will not hurt her and that you are there to protect her. It won't take long for her to become more relaxed and confident in herself and come to trust you more. Sadly to say you are having to earn her trust, but with every massage, calm word, walk early in the morning or late at night when noise and people are less and play time, you will earn a steadfast companion. Thank you for adopting her.

    Source(s): My own experience and as a trainer
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  • 1 decade ago

    Patience is the key here. We have a rat terrier that I believe was abused before she was surrendered to the pound, and by a woman. (If I raised my voice, she'd cower. If my husband did, she wouldn't even notice.) It took her a while before she trusted that I wasn't going to hurt her.

    Offer the toys, but don't push. If they're around, she'll eventually get curious enough to try to play with one. She'll stop being so jumpy, too. But it will take a while. (It took our terrier about 6 months.)

    Just be loving and patient. She'll come around.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Be patient with her and give her lots of love and kindness.

    That is great that you rescued a poor dog.

    For the time being, I would be cautious about startling her. When she jumps, I would tell her it's ok. A lot of reassuring that you love her and that everything is ok and that no one is going to ever hurt her.

    You have to teach her how to play. It would help if she met other dogs that play. She'll learn from them.

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  • 1 decade ago

    just give her plenty of time, dont try to push her into things, maybe you and someone else throw a ball or something like a toy to each other in the back garden or park and let her watch, it may take time but soon she will think she is missing out on the fun and want to join in

    good luck with that

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  • Patsy
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Thanks for rescuing that dog. In my experience, you just have to be patient and talk low voice to your dog till he gets used to being in his new home. It may take a while, but he will come around. We got a Blue Heeler from the SPCA and it took a while. He eventually became so playful, but it is a good idea if he can be the only dog, so that he gets your full attention. Good Luck.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It may just take some time for your dog to realize that she is in a safe place. Try playing with her often, she may get the hang of playing soon. Good luck!

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