10MO Spayed GSD Dominance aggression towards other dogs - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 10-17-2012, 10:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 10MO Spayed GSD Dominance aggression towards other dogs

My wife and I have a 10 month old spayed female GSD who until recently has been wonderful around other dogs. We have socialize her from 9 weeks old and are constantly out and about with this dog. She's constantly around dogs on walks and occasionally gets to go to the dog park to play off leash.

Recently we've noticed that she will excitedly greet a new dog, she almost always licks its face, then after about 10 seconds her hair stands on end, she'll paw at the other dog and growl/bark. If the dog responds aggressively it will escalate into a brawl. I've had to break up one dog scuffle at the dog park. I think this is dominance, when the other dog resists, it makes her mad and she wants to prove herself. Luckily she has always been good around people including small children.

Any pointers or things I can do? I want to take her around more dogs, but I feel like she freaks other dog owners out when she starts barking and growling.
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Old 10-18-2012, 09:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Oh the joys of puppies expanding their horizons! My puppy had a different experience when she was "growing" (she still is!) but the end result was the same ... scrapping and sometimes a brawl.

For your situation, I would do some leash walking with her in a place (not necessarily an off leash park at this stage) but walk where there are lots of other dogs on leash. Let her sniff, count to 5 or 6 and move on. Same thing with the next dog. This way all of her introductions are ending on positive notes. Praise how you see fit.

From your post, you seem to recognize the split second when she's about to "pull that switch" ... once you've had lots of positive 5-6 second introductions ... let them go a bit longer and then interrupt her behaviour that split second before she can "pull that switch". This way you are letting her know EXACTLY what you want from her. Polite intros are great, sniffing (since you've praised her) and then the interruptions just before she does the unwanted behaviour.

Depending on the dog, I've used a variety of methods when I've interrupted behaviour, a strong NO can be very effective. Some dogs take to this correction very quickly, others might cringe at the vocalization (or they'll talk back, they are GSDs after all, and sass is their middle name). I wouldn't use a "super strong" correction at this point because you are teaching what you want / don't want. By super strong, I mean prong / choke correction.

HOWEVER, if after a series of "minor" corrections, your dog is still not getting it, you will, of course, have to up the seriousness of the correction.

It's so hard to try and give suggestions / information on line because you can't see exactly what the dog is doing. The other thing to take into consideration is the behaviour of the other dog. At 10 months, your pup's not old enough / lacks worldly experience to get all the tricks of the trade of being a dog. She might sense that something's "off" with a dog, but might not have the "right" answer in her brain, and this can cause a scuffle.

Also, in providing this information, it's simply a guideline as you know your dog better than anyone else. For me, when I'm working with my small zoo, whenever there's an unwanted behaviour that pops up, I reevaluate everything I've done / haven't done, and go back to the basics.

Lots of luck, and please post back results, I love to read follow up stories.
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Your dog is changing. Developing, and learning. If you don't have her in a class, now would be the time. You need a bomb proof "out", "leave it" and recall. No more off lead until you have all of these. Greet and move along. Praise for the good interaction. Watch her body language. Staring. Posturing. None of that is allowed, and you need to cut off the interaction that second. Start NILF at home. YOU are the leader, and you need to get her off her high horse with other dogs. She may start a fight, but sooner or later she's going to lose one. There's a chance that she's just being a brat if you never saw this before. My boy is already showing signs of wanting to be the 'top dog' in my pack. I suppose it's possible that she just turned into 'super alpha bitch' but I doubt it. More likely the teen butthead phase, but still. You've got to have control and let her know that it's unacceptable and keep her out of fights.
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm agreeing with the dog classes. Will help put you more in a leadership role for your pup.

I'd just say your pup is feeling their oats and being 'rude', not appreciated by most dogs and causing the issues. Good thing is you are paying attention so can break up the interaction before it gets over the top.

As Jag mentioned, allow your pup to greet and if she isn't 'polite' then just move on. There are rules, YOU make them, and if they aren't followed then she doesn't get to stay and say hello.

Key really is to pay attention and not allow it to get out of hand.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hair up, is usually a bit of fearful-reactivity, could be just her age. She is fixed and they do say that fixing females can make them more reactive. I have not found that to be the case though. Still, she is at an awkward teenage stage, correct the behavior, and up the training. The dog park may not be the place for your girl down the road. It is not for all dogs.
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