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Thread: Starting from Scratch with a 2yo GSD

  1. #1

    Default Starting from Scratch with a 2yo GSD

    Hello everyone.

    We're the new and very proud owners of a beautiful 2yo jet-black German Shepherd female that we've named Pepper. Her past is a bit of a mystery but she was rescued a few months ago and we believe she had very little human contact before then. She spent a few weeks at a pound, then she was adopted by an elderly lady for a couple of months, then moved to a kennel for a few weeks awaiting a more suitable home. Hopefully we are that more suitable home!

    She is very gentle and is not afraid of people, but she will generally avoid contact where possible. She has an enormous amount of energy and is very playful, and I suspect that her 'aloofness' is a combination of wanting to be chased and also some natural flight response. She seems suspicious of treats, and I suspect her temporary owner may have tricked her with food. She also had some basic training at the kennel, which (having met the trainer) would probably have involved lots of corrections and shouting, as well as treats in a less-than-fun atmosphere.

    We've only had her for a couple of days, so she is still settling in and hasn't really bonded with us yet of course, but she's been amazingly good for the most part and she does show some affection towards us. My approach is to be very casual with her, go about my normal business, say hello when she comes close, but not to spend fruitless hours trying to train her or call her over until she is a bit more settled and responsive to us.

    I play with her (basically by pretending to be another dog) occasionally, which she loves, and we walk her on-lead a couple of times a day which she also enjoys. In fact, she is generally very well behaved on lead and will take treats, pats etc. At home she follows us round the house a bit (we talk to her a lot) and plays happily by herself in the garden when she feels like it (the back door is usually open so she can come and go as she pleases), but if we try to get near her she'll bolt. To get her on the lead for walks is tricky - she 'visits' my partner (in a wheelchair) often enough that she can clip the lead on, but I have to corner her in the garden somewhere, and she's learning all my tricks fast so I'll be in trouble soon.

    I guess my question is, what's the best way to handle her initially? Is this casual approach likely to produce results once she feels more settled and has formed a stronger bond with us - and if not, what should we try (given that at this stage she doesn't respond strongly enough to food, toys or affection for us to use them as incentives)?
    Last edited by Brewer; 03-08-2010 at 01:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    I do believe you need to give her time to settle in and the casual approach is fine for that. Whenever she comes close talk to her in soft enticing tones. Don't force food on her if she is not interested in taking it. Perhaps see if she is more interested in toys?

    I would give her more time before trying to walk her on a lead, let her get her confidence first. Whenever I've sold an adult dog I have always recommend people don't walk the dog for two weeks because if they slip the lead etc you won't get them back. (I recommend a different approach if you are introducing another dog to a home already with a dog).

    Her appetite will probably improve as she relaxes. Lay the lead next to the food bowl, having it laying around the house etc. You don't want her thinking every time it comes out she is going to be chased down.

    She will more than likely feel like a walk once she is relaxed and comfortable in her surroundings, she has had a lot of change recently.

    Good on you for doing this and welcome to the forum.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Devonport, Tasmania


    I would give her a good two weeks to settle in, get to know you and any other family members, get to know your premises and what is expected of her. Even two weeks is such a short period of time. Some dogs will adjust quickly, others take much longer. They are all different depending on their previous experiences.

    Incidentally, are you in NSW or Vic? If NSW I may know the dog you have just taken on.

  4. #4


    Thanks for the replies. We're in Melbourne by the way.

    I'm glad you think we're on the right track. My experience is based on one other rescued GSD I took on 10 years ago, and I don't want to make the mistake of assuming the same techniques will automatically work. She was very insecure but placid and grew into the most amazing companion. Pepper is much more aloof right now, but I have no doubt she has the same potential.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by Brewer; 03-08-2010 at 03:49 PM.

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