Friday, June 26, 2009

How to Help a Battered German Shepherd Dog Regain Confidence

Helping a Battered German Shepherd Dog gain Confidence

My Experiment with Rani

Rani was a German Shepherd Dog whom I had rescued (purchased) from an owner who tortured her. Rani (3 years old female) hailed from a good bloodline, as her pigmentation and structure suggested, but did not have the essential mental and behavioral traits of a pure bred GSD. She was little bit too difficult to handle, owing to some behavioral problems that she had developed - probably because of mistreatment. She was shy and sometimes too aggressive to humans. She used to bark continuously when kept alone, while couldn’t tolerate other dogs when kept together. She was highly unpredictable. These were probably due to the fact that she had lost trust in human beings - quite simply natural in most abused dogs.Most German Shepherds that have been abused often becomes too difficult to be handled. I spent hours and days with her to understand the root of her problem, and after a detailed study of her behavioral aspects, I was pretty much sure that she was actually suffering a sheer lack of confidence, that eventually made her a "Difficult Dog".

Read out my article: How to Deal with Difficult Dogs.

Dogs losing trust on humans often turns out difficult, and can't be treated the way you treat other pets. And that had what exactly happened to Rani. She even couldn’t stand other dogs and puppies. I adopted certain tricks to win back her trust on us humans and good news was that I succeeded! Those were just my experimentation and I want to share those tricks.

Regaining Confidence While on Play

In my program of helping her gain confidence there were certain simple steps. First off, I allowed her to succeed. I released her with other dogs, Rex and Reva and threw a ball that was instantly chased by Rex and Reva. Rani attempted to run, but didn’t go far and stopped at a short length with a submissive action. She was scared of running, which implies that she used to have good slashes while trying to run. I started running with her. When she ran I patted her, loved her and made her feel that it was a game and I would love to see her chasing the ball. She was intelligent and could grab things faster – as all German Shepherds do. This time I was her competitor in the fetch play, instead of Rex and Reva. And I wanted to lose the game before her, as this was the way I chose to help her regain confidence while on play. Soon she learned that play was a part of her life. It took me not more than just a r two to regain her confidence while on play.

Regaining Confidence While on Work

Whenever I called her, she always came to me with submissive action setting her tail between the legs, bowing and ears carried backwards. She refused to come too close to me. This implies she had been battered whenever she refused to carry out the owner’s “COME” command. I decided to call her softly, not by standing before her… rather by crouching down in front of her. I did this because I knew that shy dogs will never readily come with confidence near standing humans before him/her. My actions confused her at first as she had never come across such actions of human beings. Soon she identified my actions to be safe and started gaining confidence on me. After continuously practicing this exercise for a while, she started responding on my COME command... She started coming on calling but stood a couple of feet away from me - without her tail tugged in. For the first couple of days I stepped towards her and praised her lavishly. Gradually she started closing the distance! She was then taught to “SIT”. While teaching things to dogs – especially German Shepherd Dogs, physical force doesn’t actually work. Physical tortures are the root to all submissive behaviors in dogs. Yelling at them and forcing them to do something by physically torture will always interfere effective learning.

Regaining Confidence outside the home

I found this to be really crucial for Rani, but that doesn’t mean you’ll also find this hard with your subject. Certain things vary from dog to dog. This is actually socializing. When I took Rani out for strolls, her movement showed that she wasn’t confident while dealing with the external world and different situations. She was scared of sounds and couldn’t stay aloof from many external things that happened around her. This proved that her previous owner never socialized her to situations, sounds, smells and the likes. I used to take her on stroll almost every evening and used to talk softly with her constantly. She was allowed to sense and smell things and experience different actions of nature such as falling leaves, hooting vehicles, running buffaloes, rushing bikes, falling dried branches and even rain.

After some days she started pulling me, and that was a good sign. She was allowed to take me wherever she wanted. She took me to different corners of our locality and I used to go there with her. After reaching her desired place, I used to play with her for some while – not off leash though!

Regaining Confidence While on Bath

Bathing was something that Rani was not happy with. My other shepherds have always liked bath. She never used to come eagerly while bathing. The first day I remember I forced her but didn’t batter her physically. From the next day onwards she was rubbed softly, rinsed softly and I started playing with her with water. I used to start wetting her from legs, and not directly by pouring water on her body. I started out from her legs and then gradually rinse her coat throughout her body. I preferred watering her from her front, so she could know what was happening. Soon she learned that bathing was just like fun, and not something painful.

Gaining Confidence in Swimming

I took her to the pond for the first day and she was loath to give a dive. I don’t know swimming so I couldn’t take her deep. I released Reva before her as she has always been a great swimmer. Then I threw the ball, as she had already learned to chase the ball. Excited, Rani gave her first dive the water.

Rani gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about the breed. Sad part of the story is yet to be revealed. One of my friend asked Rani from me. Rani was then like other GSDs; she could eat well, run to fetch things, pull like other show dogs, and could walk with full confidence, and was not scared of humans any longer. I gave Rani to my friend for free as he promised me to take care of her. Bad news was waiting for me the following week. The guy rang up to me and said that Rani fell down from the 35 ft high terrace while casing a cat. She was alive, but badly injured, with right front limb broken. I went there to see her and found plastered. She crawled towards me and laid her head on my lap and slept. I found tears floating her eyes. That was the last day I met with her years back. After that whenever I called that man he was never reachable. Now his number doesn’t exist. I went to his house, but neither could I find that guy, nor Rani. I don’t know where she is these days and how’s she doing. I miss her a lot!

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All you need to know about German Shepherd Dogs. Read out what I have to share with you regarding the amazing German Shepherd Dog breed. Are Alsatian dogs and German Shepherd Dogs same? Who was Max Von Stephanitz and What is SV? Also learn a bit more in depth on German Shepherd Dog training tips, German Shepherd puppy care tips, German Shepherd Dog behavior, German Shepherd instinct, German Shepherd Dog standard and history of German Shepherds.

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