Posted: 13/11/2009 at 17:22
I adopted a GSD in Botswana who was a failed guard dog and about a year/eighteen months old. He had failed tests where they beat them up and another one where other dogs got set on them. He was also starving, but had a nice face. I took a risk on him but he turned out to be a gorgeous dog.
Be very clear and consistent in the messages you communicate, and make sure you are always the dominate one. Even if he was playing, he got told off for anything such as jumping up, play biting, etc - and that was day one.
Mine wasn't toilet trained but learned very fast so never was a big problem. He also took to sleeping in the house very well - although he rarely slept on the mattress but preferred the bottom of the stairs.
The biggest issue was he had been badly beaten so associated so had a big problem with black men coming towards him (this was in Africa) which we eventually solved thanks to some very patient friends, and a lot of food. The other issue is he would steal all food wrapping (plastic, tin etc) and sit with it around him outside - I tried putting chillis in the bin but never really overcame it.
I will say i spent about six months thinking about putting him down because it felt as though he was a bundle of nerves and wouldn't settle at all. Several people warned me he could suddenly flip and attack someone - although his usual response was to run away. Then he suddenly turned a corner and became a lovely dog.