Canine Behavior/scared dog


I have a 20 month old German Shepard that as of the last 2 nights is acting scared and panting allot at night. He acts like he can hear or even see something in the house. He is cowering , looking around and wont leave my side at night.His ears will perk up and he quits panting when he thinks he hears something then goes right back to this unusual behavior. I can let him outside and he runs around the yard okay but hesitates to come back indoors. It did storm a couple nights ago but not last night. It has been windy but that has never seemed to bother him before. He doesn't like to cuddle but lays on me and needs constant reassuring when he acts like this and looks around like there is something in the house.

VERY short term behavior that YOU ARE NOW REWARDING because you are a caring person and you want to calm and reassure your dog.  We may never know why he suddenly acquired this behavior.  The GSD has had, in the past 20 years, a large problem with FEAR.  The last thing you want to do is reward this.  Now: perhaps someone did try to get into your house.  This breed "should" not develop a fear response but they often do.  Perhaps you have little visitors (it IS the time of year you know for these little visitors to "move in") and the dog is confused and fearful of them.

Your assignment:  When he "lays" on you, casually get up and remove yourself.  Observe him.  If his ear set is normal, tail set normal, hackles not raised, have a ten second "party": laugh, clap your hands quietly, make a fuss over him, go on about your business.  If you let him out during one of his fear episodes you are effectively rewarding him.  DO NOT do that.  We can probably extinguish this sudden fear response within a week (perhaps even less).  Try this technique I suggested for THREE DAYS and then REPORT BACK using followup feature so I can see your original question/answer.

Help this dog to feel more confident by being a consistent, calm, and fair "leader".

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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