My 7 month old shepherd mix seems very apprehensive over new things. We had a crate for him when he was younger that he has outgrown, so we got him a new one. He was quite fond of the old one, but now the new one he won't go into, even to get a treat. We have tried playing an 'in-out' game with him, so he'll go in but immediately look at me to be let out and whine if not.
Then I was trying to practice roll over with him - he wouldn't roll with the treat so I tried to scratch his belly to see if he would roll over, but when he got on his back, he started flailing around like he was scared and snapping at the air with his teeth. I thought he may be trying to play, but his top gums were showing like he was barring his teeth which didn't look like playing.
Sorry for the silly questions, but I'm a new dog mom and want to make sure my little guy is well-adjusted! I thought puppies were supposed to be naturally open and inquisitive - this guy just seems to have nervous energy. How do I show him not to be afraid?
Nervous energy might be exactly what it is. How much exercise does your dog get?
The age is right for your dog to be in the "teenage years" where it starts defying you. Testing the boundaries, if you will. But actual fear is different, and will look different. I highly doubt it is actual fear, but defiance. Make sure you are consistant on the rules, and that you only reward good behavior. Don't let your dog "ignore you" and continue with the crating, despite more of a protest from your dog.
Other than that.... I dunno.
"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."
He could have fear agression. It is not totally uncommon. Sometimes it just depends on where he was in the pack(littermates). Most dogs don't want to be on there backs, it is very submissive. He doesn't feel he has to be submissive to you so when you showed dominace(putting him on his back), He said no in the only way he knew how. Try putting his old blanket or toys in the new crate. The new smell is unfamilar, so It sounds like he is uneasy about it. By adding his smell, it may make the transition easier on him. good luck
Try using bigger and better treats to lure him into the crate. My Dora spends a lot more time in the crate than my older dog and will protest going into it on occasion, but if I've prepared her a KONG stuffed with yougart, fruit, and/or peanut butter, she'll run to the door and whine for me to open it! Once he's in, do not let him out if he whines and do not pay him any attention at all while he whines. If he's quiet, praise him calmly and give him another treat. When you are ready to get him out, wait by the door of the crate for him to be quiet. Have him sit or lay down before you open the door. If he gets up before you invite him out, close the door and have him lay down quietly again. He will learn that you are in charge and he has to do what you say to get what he wants. Also, if you clicker-train, you can try catching him rolling over in play and rewarding him, intstead of forcing him into a submissive position.
See that's the weird thing. He seems very submissive otherwise. He always sits and lays down and waits for permission to eat. He sits by the door to be let in or out of the house and does not leave his crate without permission - he just HATES to go in it and gets antsy when I turn around. He stays away when I am eating. But something with being on his back - now I wonder if he's not being submissive after all, maybe just being nice.
He does get a decent amount of exercise. Normally an hour walk each night with a backpack on and some free time on the walk in the park. Then once a week we go on a longer hike in the mountains.
I just feel like there's a lot of uncertainty wit him. We got him from a shelter about 5 months ago and he had 3 siblings. His sister was definitely the dominant one - crawling over the rest of them, pushing her way to the front. So I don't know.