Professional help results
I really have debated posting this for 2 reasons. 1) not sure the replies I'd get and really wanted to give the behaviorist plan a full go and 2) not sure I really believed the behaviorist was right in the first place. I think/ thought my dog was fearful. He thinks he's dominant protective.
I've posted quite a few times about my dog who was showing some fearful signs, backing away from head pats and barked and lunged at a few men, circled a lady with a hat on including a lady dressed up as the Statue of Liberty earlier this year. Chased a skateboarder down the street, after he knocked my daughter over. She's 20 but really petite. Looks like 16.
Last month however was the last straw, when my daughter was walking him with me and my son behind her. An approx 5 year approached us running towards our dog. I looked for the mother but she was on her phone and it happened so fast. We don't have young kids around and my daughter got nervous and told him to stop, which he didnt, and my dog started barking and pulling towards the young boy. Luckily my son had yanked back on the leash and the little boy stopped.
I had been doing counter conditioning with him for months but I really needed help after this.
Called in a behaviorist who works with the court and dogs that have bitten someone. He does service dog, therapy and schutzhund training and has much experience with fearful dogs and biters.
He came to our house, met Dexter who does what he usually does when I let someone in the house smells them and gets his ball. He jokingly asked me where my fearful dog was. ( by this time Dexters on the couch next to the behaviorist with his head and ball in his lap.) I asked him to come out with us in public because my dog is fearful in public and is afraid of being petted. He spent 2 hours with us and went to a shopping center where his partner met us.
Some things he observed and talked to us about. Some of them embarrassing and some even worse than fearful.
Behaviorist results: Dexter is competitive dominant and protective of my daughter. He would bite if given the chance.
1) Dexter is not fearful, he's dominant with strangers. he does not like being patted on head. Moves head away but moves back in to person patting him. Not a fearful action. He said a lot of german shepherds do not like being petted on the head.
2) he's competitive dominant with people who challenge him. Behaviorist's partner approached staring and Dexter stared back, tail high slight wag, on front paws. Not looking away. Surprisingly Dexter didnt growl or bark at him, but I think its because he didn't get too close. Other people were passing by us while this was happening and Dexter ignored them even though they were close, but kept staring at the partner.
Protective of my daughter, who he sees as weak. He's anxious in public when she's walking him. He's constantly looking around and watching her behavior. He's too young and immature enough to decide who's bad and who's not. Not his job to decide. Daughter has to become leader.
We have a written plan, basically states:
1) NILF. No more couch, even dog couch. No bedroom at all. No more chicken, treats etc. Dexter is spoiled, especially by my daughter who allows him on her bed, couch etc. too many treats, canned dog food. Dexter receiving too many mixed signals.
2) said kirkland brand food was good. Not too much protein. He recommends lower protein food for dogs with behavioral issues.
3) he usually recommends blood tests but Dexters behavior is not bad, so he's not recommending it.
4)Daughter has to play ball and tug according to new rules. When she plays with him he never takes the ball to her and drops it and waits for her to pick it up ( like he does with me. I'm a lazy butt so I make him bring it) instead he drops it, waits for her to reach down to get it, he swoops in and gets it before her and she chases him around the yard and house.
5) no more dog park. He said lots of german shepherds are competitive dominant with other dominant dogs and that's when fights begin.
I have to say, I really didn't believe him and told him so, but what did I have to lose.
I'm posting this now because it's been a month this past Sunday and we've seen such a big change. ( it did take 4 days for him to stop climbing on the couch though lol) . Last week my daughter had him on leash at a family park event and several family kids ran up to him. We have been working on not getting nervous. He wagged his tail and played ball with them. He's not 100 percent better because I still see him looking around when she's walking him, and he still stares but....he hasn't barked at anyone so that's a huge improvement.
We are continuing to do some training out in public with the behaviorist so my daughter can feel more comfortable.
Anyway just wanted to share my experience and hope it helps some others to decide whether a behaviorist might be a good idea, if you are having some behavioral issues. Please keep your fingers crossed for Dexter and I too.
Dexter Bartolomeo -GSD (24 months)
Fluffy Cornelius - Maltipoo rescue (approx 7yrs)
Squeezette Antoinette- Shih Tzu (16 yrs)
Last edited by Msmaria; 08-26-2014 at 05:51 PM.