Chopping at my face - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Chopping at my face

I didn't really know what the heck else to call this. I adopted Ceasar about a month ago. He is settling in nicely, adapting to the environment, slow diet changes, and my other two dogs who he was originally terrified of. I noticed that his previous owners allowed him to jump on them, so I began working on that behavior.

Shortly after he arrived, I noticed that the jumping up to my face was accompanied by a little chop in the vecinity of my face. I ignored the chop and addressed the jumping. He had a crate at his other house. I don't know how often they crated him. He urinated and defocated in the house when I left even though they said he never did that, so upon speaking to a trainer, like I have for my other two, I got him a crate. He acclimated to it very very quickly.

I had scheduled a trip in advance of knowing I was adopting him. To abbreviate, he was with me for two weeks, and then I left for vacation for 4 days. He did very well with my mother and didn't jump on her at all.

However, upon my arrival home, the jumping was OUT OF CONTROL... jumping on me from front, behind, the side when I bent over to pick up something, continuing at me with this chopping in my face.

I don't know if what I am doing is right or wrong because this is my first experience with this breed. I have had labs. I was commanding him to sit which he was ignoring. I put a pronged collar on him (used it to train the labs to heel AND stop jumping). The pronged collar HAS ABSOLUTELY lessened his jumping but NOT the face-chopping. WHAT THE HECK IS THIS BEHAVIOR ABOUT?????

On the average day, every time I let him out of the crate, arrive home, come in from outside, etc... whenever he is away from me for any period of time, he cries, now knows he can't jump so restrains himself from doing that, but is still constantly trying to chop in my face, until he has calmed down. Today I bent down to pick up something and he came out of nowhere and came darn close to my face. I pushed him down, grabbed his nose and firmly commanded, "NO." Held him there for about 5 seconds and let him up. He cried during this discipline.

WHAT IS THIS BEHAVIOR ABOUT???? Does anyone have a clue? Is this submissive, anxious behavior or is he trying to assert himself over me? ANY CLARITY you can provide would be helpful. I'm at a LOSS!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:20 PM
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I didn't see it in the post but,
How old is this dog!?
How long have you had him?
What training has he had...obedience wise? With you or anyone else?

Chomping in the face ( you said chopping) is unacceptable, IMO.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:27 PM
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There are a lot of things that can be causing it. Katsmuse is asking the right questions, however I must add how much exercise is he getting? The more you tire him out the less he will do it and the more he will be calm. Also punishment at times doesn't work. Since dogs are social creatures and even bad attention is attention to him. So whenever his calm, and doing the behaviors you want him to do. We want to make the behaviors that we think are appropriate to be very rewarding, so we can wean out their own self rewarding behaviors. Always praise him for it. Also practice the leadership exercises.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:37 PM
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sounds like he is EXCITED and 'face/air' snapping to get your attention.

I'd ask Mom what she did those 4 days that he behaved like an angel

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JakodaCD OA View Post
sounds like he is EXCITED and 'face/air' snapping to get your attention.

I'd ask Mom what she did those 4 days that he behaved like an angel
Yes - please do and let us know her secret. I agree it does seem he is excited. As the previous posts mentioned also, is he getting enough exercise? Also, are you playing tug with him? When you play tug, be sure to end with him winning. This will satisfy his prey drive, increase his confidence, and help him in forming the proper bond with you. It's the theory behind natural dog training. GSDs have a good prey drive and are mouthy - they are not soft mouthed like a lab. Throw a tug - and a lab will retrieve it, but a GSD will run after the tug, catch it - bite it, toss it in the air - "kill" it. It will help if your dog has soft squeaky toys that are his. During this training period, keep several around the house, when he does the air bite - say sternly "no, mine" change your voice to soft and grab the toy "say this is your's" - when he takes it - praise him. If possible, try to prevent these incidents - when he comes up to you - be sure to think positive - picture him sitting - say "sit" when he sits - reward (you can give him the toy or a treat) - pet him, give him atention for the sit. You could also teach him how to shake - that way he has a way to get your attention along with sitting- he can come to you - sit and lift his paw - you shake it - say good boy. Also don't always wait for him - be the first to give the attention - go up to him approach him from the side - make gentle eye contact - pet his chest and back - scratch his rump, if he likes that. So he learns to be close to you but cannot always have your attention, put him on his leash - have him follow you around while you do chores inside - also have him on the down/stay (during the early training - sitting on the leash helps) while you are reading or on the computer. Do it for 5 minutes at first - gradually work up to 30 minutes. Be sure he holds the down/stay - when he gets up - put him back down and go about your reading. At the end of the session - release him from the down/stay and praise him. That will help him to learn patience and to be calm by you.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by JakodaCD OA View Post
sounds like he is EXCITED and 'face/air' snapping to get your attention.

I'd ask Mom what she did those 4 days that he behaved like an angel
My dog does this when she WANTS what I'm holding. If I'm playing frisbee, she'll chomp at the air until I throw it.

May sound absolutely crazy, but have you ever actually had your face close enough to see if he bit you?
Maybe coordinating a perfectly timed correction will help.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 07:54 PM
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My female does the air-snapping thing when she is excited or frustrated, or playing with my male. She never points her face at our face when she does this, in fact when she does it to us, she will actually turn her head to the side and air-snap (not so with my other dog, she'll snap right near his face).

When my male was a puppy, he would give us kisses "with teeth". It seemed like he had to learn that he could lick our faces but he had to be careful to keep his teeth off our skin. We ended up teaching "give kisses" by capturing the behavior of licking without teeth and rewarding it with praise and then if did use teeth, we quickly got up and removed ourselves from him and ended the fun.

I don't know if either of these situations are exactly what you are describing though.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 08:36 PM
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Like others have said, this sounds like over excitement and/or frustration.

From an earlier post, I see that he is 3 years old, and you have had him for about a month. With the short break of vacation maybe some anxiety.

Start locating a good trainer, even if he knows his commands; will be good for the bonding process. Up his exercise - 2 ball fetch is a good one for mine, burns the energy if it is fast. Prevention - if you know an event triggers the air snap, take a minute, place him in a down stay and when calm, release with LOTS of praise after.

For me, I would withhold corrections with him only being with you for a month. He doesn't know what you expect yet. As far as pushing him down and holding his nose.. sounds like an attempted alpha roll? Doesn't really work with the effect you are hoping for, and the crying during this discipline may have been fear.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, here we go. I will try to answer everyone's questions.

1. We were MORE active before I went on vacation. We were walking, practicing obedience commands and playing a little bit of retrieving, which he loves to do but was initially not doing due to intimidation. After vacation, we haven't been walking BUT we are doing our retrieving game every day and he is actively playing with the other dogs. So where he lost ACTIVITY in one area, he gained in another.

2. My mother did nothing special. lol. I spoke with her about the magic she must possess and she felt that ... there was none... lol and instead, he just started getting very comfortable with when I was coming home.

3. I do feel that it was not aggressive but more anxious behavior because it is preceded by him circling me and crying.

4. I came home tonight, immediately gave him one on one floor time with me. He calmed down very quickly. Crazy as you sounded, in response, I crazily let him in my face to see what he'd do. He didn't snap me physically, he DID snap in my face and lick my face until he calmed down.

5. He has had some basic obedience training. I have had him for one month. New in his world: New home on farm, large yard that he runs, 2 dogs to play with (he is starting to play with them), and I am probably the strongest alpha adult in his life beside his previous trainer. And I do think he is still adjusting, and will be for a while.

The behavior got much worse when I came back from vacation so I think it must right now be connected to some insecurity about my leaving or him having one on one with me.

What do you think?

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 10:01 PM
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PRactice NILIF.

One of my dogs will try to 'chop my face' when feeling insecure or trying to de-stress a situation(usually during training sessions) It should be nipped in the bud and I re-direct when my dog does it, if it continues, I correct firmly and carry on, don't let it become a big deal.

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