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Hi there,

I joined up hoping some members could point me to better information than I've found on Google, as this is overall completely new to me.

About a month ago while at work I discovered a GSD running around one of our properties It was apparent to myself and some others who walked up that she was either a stray or escaped from a 'bad' home. Her ribs were showing, she was dirty, and obviously starving - attempting to eat wrappers and random trash on the ground. Long story short; the family took her in for me (as I still had a few hours left to my shift) and I just recently got her from them after about 2-3 weeks.

They took her to the vet before giving her to me, she was clear of worms, up to 50 pounds (from estimating 30 when found), not chipped, no report of a similar dog was found at local sources, and estimated 10 months old.

Overall, her behavior is not bad. If anything she is just very anxious and not exactly trusting. She still has the complex of just wanting to roam aimlessly. The first night she was very good at taking commands from me, specifically to follow and go into the kennel we have her in right now due to the other dogs (discussed below). I'm not sure if I can do anything more than give it time for her to be less anxious and trusting.

We are attempting to integrate her into a household which already has 2 dogs - a pitbull (male, approx 3-4 years) and a mastiff (female, approx 6+ years old), both were rescue dogs at one point as well. As far as behaviors go, they're complete opposites. The pitbull can get hype when played with, or when you lay on the floor, but overall he's very timid and relaxed. The mastiff is pretty old, and we think may be going blind as she'll watch you walk out and back in, then bark relentlessly. Overall however, she's generally a sweet heart. They both take commands and can be trusted off a leash, in the front yard with cars driving by. They belong to other family members we live with, the GSD is our end of the families first animal as "adults" (lol).

As we attempted introductions we assumed the pitbull would be the least of our worries as he never had territorial issues with other pets at the house. Upon leashed introduction, the pitbull and GSD circle each other sniffing and both seemed "fine". Within about 5 minutes the pitbull started snarling at the GSD and attempted 5-6 times in the 15 minute period to snip at her - lunging the last few times. At that point we decided we'd have to give him time and try again.

We bring out the mastiff and it's the same story at first, sniffs go fine, they're okay standing there with each other, however once we go on the walk she randomly bark/bites at the GSD.

The GSD was unphased at each snarl and bite attempt. I think part of her issue is that she isn't very keen to socializing with other dogs, so when she just stands there essentially careless to the other dogs they take it as her not "stepping down".

The GSD has showed no signs of aggression, she can be playful but for the most part she's anxious and just wants to wander aimlessly/explore in the yard. She's not taking to commands as well as the first night. Due to the other dogs we've had to keep her kenneled in the garage, periodically taking her out to use the bathroom and run around outside, and to just run around the garage, get pet on and fed, etc. She's been good with 2 of the 4 kids who live in the household and my fiancee and family (sister and brother in law). The kids were 7 months old (ours, who the GSD licked and sniffed), and 3 (theirs, who again the GSD licked and sniffed).

Right now the temperature outside hasn't dropped off real bad, however come next week it will (40's) and I'd like to try to get her in the house by then, or sooner. Makes me feel bad it hasn't worked out and that for her safety in a sense we have to keep her away from everyone, in a sense. I can return her to the family who was taking care of her, I just want to know for sure it can't work before going that route. We wanted a GSD for our son to grow up with but couldn't find any we could afford, so it worked in a sense that we found her.

Anywho, how can we go about breaking the anxiety walls down, getting her more focused on us than wandering, what are other methods we could try when getting the dogs together (obviously 1 at a time going good before 2), and how long should we try before it's probably best to return her to a household she was reportedly warming up to?

Sorry for typing so much. I was just attempting to provide as many details as possible. I hope someone can point me in the right direction.
 

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Not all dogs can learn to get along, and in your situation, with a dog going blind, it might not be a good idea to try. I'm going to suggest a certified behaviorist to come in and look at all the dogs with new eyes, you might not be seeing warning signals or certain behaviors that are tipping things towards grumpiness and violence, and can suggest things to make transitions easier.

Until you can see the behaviorist/trainer, leave blankets or towels around for the shepherd to sleep o for a few days, then bring them inside and leave them in places your current dogs sleep and go to frequently so they can get used to her scent.
 

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Did you make any attempt to locate an owner? Just because a dog is thin and looks rough, doesn't mean the dog has no owner. Dogs can become lost and wander for weeks and they get to looking pretty bad.

Honestly, I'd find a reputable GSD rescue for this dog. This doesn't sound like a good fit in your household. If you decide to keep the dog hire a professional for an in home consultation. Look in the training and behavior section for how to find someone. This may cost as much as a well bred GSD puppy.
 

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Not all dogs can learn to get along, and in your situation, with a dog going blind, it might not be a good idea to try. I'm going to suggest a certified behaviorist to come in and look at all the dogs with new eyes, you might not be seeing warning signals or certain behaviors that are tipping things towards grumpiness and violence, and can suggest things to make transitions easier.

Until you can see the behaviorist/trainer, leave blankets or towels around for the shepherd to sleep o for a few days, then bring them inside and leave them in places your current dogs sleep and go to frequently so they can get used to her scent.
As I said the GSD lacks the social skills right now to step down to them to prove she isn't a threat. She's not aggressive it was them. I have been leaving things with her scent and handled the other dogs wearing clothes she's jumped up on in play. She's also using the bathroom in the yard as the other 2. Just not at the sametime.

Thank you for your suggestions. If we can get her in the house and settled a little more she'll be going to a retired state police k9 trainer I know.
 

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Did you make any attempt to locate an owner? Just because a dog is thin and looks rough, doesn't mean the dog has no owner. Dogs can become lost and wander for weeks and they get to looking pretty bad.

Honestly, I'd find a reputable GSD rescue for this dog. This doesn't sound like a good fit in your household. If you decide to keep the dog hire a professional for an in home consultation. Look in the training and behavior section for how to find someone. This may cost as much as a well bred GSD puppy.
Yes there were attempts made to find an owner somewhere noted in my wall of text. No local postings were found online or in the paper for any GSDs, she wasn't chipped, the only local AKC said they didn't have any reported lost to them and that they wouldn't take her in as we can't prove she's of an approved AKC bloodline.

There is no reputable rescues here. We're at a point in the state where there isn't even current animal control or shelters available. I exhausted those measures, I can assure you.

As I posted above if we can get them on page enough she will be going to a trainer familiar / specializing in GSDs. He no longer takes rescues himself however long story there I cannot share. Let's just say the dog went kujo because of its previous training before he received it.
 

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Good for you for taking the dog in and it doesn't sound that unusual regarding any of the behavior you have described regarding the interaction between the dogs, especially since one is a new addition and perhaps yet to "find" it's place among it's pack. If the GSD is not offering any competing behavior or shooting any obvious signals to the other dogs, I think that is a very good starting point.

Over the years, I have found benefit in keeping the dog which initiates the undesirable behavior on a lead and under my control with appropriate corrections when required until the dog(s) can coexist appropriately with the other dogs. Many times once the dog on lead exhibits the undesirable social behavior I will take the dog out of the action and put on a down stay by my side for 5-10 minutes and then reengage.

It would seem there are so many possible dynamics taking place with your new situation that it is kind of shooting from the hip since you know little about the GSD's past. However, you are ultimately the one determining what is permissible and acceptable behavior with your dogs hence your leadership is paramount and never a negotiable factor by any of the dogs. Peaceful coexistence is rewarded and uncivil sparring is to be corrected. Consistency in your process along with patience on your behalf is also very important. Slow and sure with your solid leadership will allow all the dogs to find their proper position in your family and take the pressure off all of them.

Yes, giving the GSD more time to acclimate to her new surroundings would seem proper, deal with her from square one especially any obedience and commands. You are building a completely new relationship with this dog and it is only a matter of time until the dog will trust in you because of your proper guidance.

As far as the dog not "stepping down" being viewed as not very "keen" regarding dog on dog behavior, I might disagree. By the GSD not reacting to the advances made by your other dogs at times, I would say the GSD is showing behavior which displays social tact as indifference is a signal to other dogs that she means no harm or competition.

This is all a fairly new situation for all the dogs involved as well as you, so the ball is in your court and your leadership will define the boundaries.
 
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