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Suddenly Nervous Dog

LeitnerLeitner Registered User regular
edited April 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
My family has a german shepherd, around two years old. Despite a lot of early socialisation he’s always had a tendency towards being slightly nervous, though this seemed to have been something he was trained out of (before he was one he’d bark at people who suddenly came up to him, or stuck their hand out, but nothing else).

However, he’s always gotten on with me as well as anyone else in the family. Yet a couple days ago, after I’d gotten back from a weekend away this had suddenly changed. He’s taken to being very nervous around me (not immediately after this, but within a day or two). Lightly growling (it almost sounds like complaining rather than ‘serious’ dominance growling or anything) when I pet him, though this soon stops. Constantly staring at me when I’m in the room, ignoring my instructions and extremely reticent to do anything other than sit still or leave the room, as well as numerous other signs of ‘fear’. And it’s just to me, no other members of the family.

This changes when he’s in the garden and I’m throwing balls for him/walking him and such where he goes back to completely fine.

Now I can’t think of anything I’ve done which would make him act like this around me, and certainly nothing new that he would have taken offence to. All this has left me fairly worried as it’s just such a dramatic shift in behaviour.

Leitner on

Posts

  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm no expert on dogs, but when cats behave like this it's a good idea to get their sight and hearing checked (cats in particular can go completely blind and all their owners notice is "weird" behavior because they do pretty well relying on their other senses).

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  • rizriz Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Could you possibly have the scent of anything on you from your trip that he's picking up on?

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  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    did you change you soap, shampoo, cosmetic products?

    did you wash your clothes with a different detergent?

    get a haircut?

  • LeitnerLeitner Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    @Riz.

    I considered this, but do that whole 'change my clothes' and bathing thing, so presumeably any smell would be long gone right? If not that could be a possibility I guess, because I stayed with someone who has a dog he hates, but it seems unlikely.

    @Dundan. Nope.

  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Have you had any nasty thunderstorms lately? The dog I had growing up suddenly became terrified of rain and loud noises one night when the tree in the backyard got hit by lightning.

  • HK5HK5 Registered User
    edited April 2011
    I hate to make generalizations but in my experience German Shepherds are a particularly emotional, sensitive breed of dog. They're bred to guard and that instinct can go a little haywire sometimes. Trying to figure out why he suddenly changed would be challenging so rather than that, it might be better to just go back a few steps in his training and start at that point. All of the steps that you took initially to make him a well socialized dog should be gone over again with you leading him through them. He's a young dog so extra attention and exercise certainly won't hurt anyway. Use a lot of positive reinforcement and stay calm and assertive and hopefully he'll return to normal.

  • rizriz Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Leitner wrote: »
    @Riz.

    I considered this, but do that whole 'change my clothes' and bathing thing, so presumeably any smell would be long gone right? If not that could be a possibility I guess, because I stayed with someone who has a dog he hates, but it seems unlikely.

    Hard to say, but that sounds like it could have something to do with it, if there was in fact a dog where you were, and one yours doesn't like. Remember a dog's sense of smell is insane (this is some scientific shit right here). You might have changed your clothes and showered, but could the smell be on your shoes, on suitcases/items in your room/in your car then transferred to you? Lots of options. Hopefully that means it'll fade before long though.

    Organichu wrote:
    she's some sort of malevolent creature who bores through this world into the next using hatred and suffering as her fuel
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    is the dog getting enough exercise? a lot of dogs get anxious if they're not exercised a decent amount daily or semi-daily. Long walks are good, it helps their patrol their 'territory' and tires them out a little.

  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Unfortunately your dog is reaching social maturity, and nervousness and fear problems can get worse around this age. It may be, that from now on, anytime someone leaves for a while it will take the dog a long time to warm back up to them (like up to 6 months) you were just the first person to leave.

    And it isn't particularly weird that he is more comfortable with you outside, that is fairly common in nervous dogs that they will be dramatically better either at home or away from home (varies by dog). My suggestion would be to spend as much time as possible with him outside where he is comfortable and leave him alone inside until he starts seeking out interaction.

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