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I adopted 5 year old Lewis from a shelter just 3 months ago. He was able to walk past several dogs without reacting when walked by a volunteer. But now that I've taken him around other dogs in the park or at my mom's, he gets very tense. So I wonder if the problem is me? And would it be safe to take him to a training class at PetSmart/Petco?
 

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Avoid petsmart or petco. Find an actual dog trainer that can assess your new boys behaviour properly and help teach you how to redirect and manage it. Some dogs just do better as only dogs. In the mean time, avoid dog parks and do not place him in a situation where he can react negatively. You aren't doing either of you any favours.

Congrats on your new boy :) can you share some pictures of him?
 

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Petco/Petsmart is basically a waste of time and money if you have a dog with "issues." And my standard advise also as has been mentioned is to "Stay out of the Dog Parks!"

You understand that your dog has "issues" and you've take the right first step in "figuring it out ... ie "stop and think." But it sounds like your dog is on the edge and is just one "Dog Park" encounter away from ... becoming uh "unmanageable for you." Stay out of the "Dog Parks!"

Loose dogs are always going to be a problem but there are ways to deal with them. And the most essential step is for your dog to ...have faith in you to keep them safe. Everytime you go to the "Dog Park" you are putting that "faith" at risk.

Kinda like ...:good luck out there ... hope it works out??? You need to work on your relationship with this dog and you do that by "forging a Bond of Trust."

Step one don't put him in "harms way" and step two build a bond and yeah "walks are an important part of that process. (And yes stray dogs ... if you can take him somewhere else to walk a couple times a week that would be idea for now.)

Step two "Sit on the Dog" and "The Place Command" train and do those. They may not seem like much to you but they are "important to your dog."

See here.:
http://www.boxerforums.com/training/183298-fearful-anxious-flat-crazy-place-command.html

And without being to overwhelming I think ... have a look here.:
German Shepherd Dog Forums - View Single Post - New Dog, Very Challenging

And as to the other dog thing ... well for right now, it would just be best to avoid them ... go somewhere else to walk him. Business Parks on "weekends" are idea if you have them and can get to them???

I'm an old hand at the "stray dog" crap 16 "attempts so far and thus far no dogs gotten past me!" But my dogs are well trained so I'm not fighting with them and another dog. And "ironically" as was pointed out to me by a "Pro Dog Park" member. Most attacks occur "near home???" I guess she kinda figured out ... well if you don't go to "Dog Parks" where is all this crap happening??? Before she asked ... I'd not noticed but yep sure enough 16 attempts in two states over 15 years ... all occurred within a block or less of home???? I was stunned???

Still I don't look for trouble so no "Dog Parks" for my guys. But a "walking stick (and you don't hit the dog with it you use it to block them) or a "Boat Air horn" and I block access to my dogs from attackers! Those are ways to defend your dog.

Charging dogs don't even see you all they see is your dog! I'll tell my dogs stay and I step in front of them! Go past me if you can!!! I don't play ... and ... I don't use "tools" and I have never had need to touch a single one of those dogs. And none have touched mine.

Anyway here is more info on the subject, but for right now avoidance is best.
What to do if another dog attacks your while on leash - German Shepherd Dog Forums


And it's in the "Leerburgh" link but no "Dog on the Street" meetups! "I don't know you, I don't know your dog ... you keep your distance... I'll keep mine," works out fine.

Welcome aboard ask questions and, "Thank You" for saving him. :(
 

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Thanks for the advice...I was feeling bad because I thought I was neglecting him but protecting him is priority.
 

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It's the dogs that are putting "pressure on him" you don't know his background or what he's been thru?? But as long as you do your job "right" his past does not matter.
Sometimes it's what you "don't do" ... that makes a difference.

Don't put him in "bad situations" walk him on proper structured walks, "Train Place and do "Sit on the Dog." And if "Pack Walks" are an option where you are ... that would be fine ... everybody is on a leash and they are with owners that care. That would be a few months down the road however. :)
 

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Thanks for the advice...I was feeling bad because I thought I was neglecting him but protecting him is priority.
I understand but you did much more than merely "feeling bad" as I am want to say ... you stopped doing and started thinking??? Well ... actually I say a lot of stuff ... but that is one of them. :)

If he walks well on leash and has no dog reactivity ... consider that a bonus! All you have to do is put distance between him and other dogs "period." I don't discriminate based on a dog's size or breed. I don't know you I don't know your dog ...you keep your distance, I'll keep mine. Works out fine.

For now just walk him stay out of "Dog Parks" and no dog on the street hook ups! Just do that and "Sit on the Dog" for now. "Place" can come later,
De-stress him as it were. And no coddling or fondling on the walks or while doing "Sit on the Dog" an occasional pat on the head and a good boy is more than sufficient.

"Anybody" could be his friend most likely?? But not "everybody" could help him get over his issues. That job is now yours ... give the "changes" say two weeks and report back. :)
 

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Why do you think he gets tense? Is it on the leash only? Or anytime there are other dogs?
I'd work on engagement. You cannot avoid seeing other dogs.
I'd also work on relationship type things. Training is important, but where does it get you if he doesn't focus on you?
I'm not sure where you are located, but I'd start with a one to one trainer and go from there. Train without distractions.
 
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