Grumpy 2-Year-Old - Sources of Information?
My intact 2-year-old male is a full-power working line dog, not something to take lightly. The GSD I had for 10 years before wasn't as intense.
Right as my boy turns two and tries on his "big dog pants" I got badly injured. That cut both his activities and my dominance, for over 2 months. I'm a month or so from much activity. I can do walks though.
He's getting a protective streak . . . holy cow . . . territorial inside, protects me from my wife (no kids), gets angry when I correct him. He knew I was hurt when I came home from the hospital (a week), and I suspect that's part of it.
I want to handle this right, but I don't know enough.
Obviously those in the know weren't at one time. I was hoping maybe there are references they use that I might also study - especially behavior and psychology type stuff. I'm into lots of love, but with a firm hand.
Any ideas how to better understand and handle this situation? Good references?
This is one I came across that might be promising:
Anyone know anything about it?
Your dog is not "protecting you" from your wife. Is she harming you that he needs to "protect"?
It's called resource guarding.
Try Mind Games (version 1.0) by M. Shirley Chong for starters.
I'm unclear on how you were injured. Did your dog injure you??
Oh, and neuter him. ASAP.
Yes it may not help but it sure cannot hurt and it may help the dog to be more amendable to minding you.
I was injured in a crash - broken neck and other bones, concussion.
This morning is typical for the issue with my wife:
She was bringing my breakfast to me in my home office. When she came to the door he started barking like mad, wagging his tail. When she came in she had him sit by hand signal, which he is good about obeying. When released he ran ahead of her and went to me, barking at her and wagging. He gets really excited when she comes into my actual office room and tries to stay between us.
I command him to sit and try to get him to stop barking - he sits but barks. He'll do a down briefly. When he obeys I praise him and pet him.
He stays with me most of the day in my office room when I'm alone. When I have an employee in he is in the other room in a kennel. He barks when the employee comes in my office room too.
This feels like partly a territorial reaction (his day bedroom) but he doesn't like people getting close to me.
A hypothesis is that given his coming of age and my injury, he has gotten the idea that he needs to be the alpha, not me.
What I've been working on is getting him to down-stay in my office first and then in the next room while others enter ahead of him. I'm able to take dominant postures now, which seems to be helping.
If I hold his snout closed he growls sometimes. That's a stern down-stay until he calms down. When he does calm down he's very interested in coming to me and apologizing - he clearly wants my approval after he knows he screwed up.
He definitely accepts me as a dominant figure, but I'm a little over my head about exactly what to do. Nothing in life is free for him, corrections come fast and are followed by praise when he acts sorry. He seems to be getting the idea . . . I think.
Do the MIND GAMES. Read the link, print it out.
You can get him to see his place better. He shouldn't be allowed to "guard" you from your wife, and if he continues that type thing, place him in his crate. I don't often advocate "time outs" for dogs, but for that type thing, I would say do it, because he will get the point his "guarding" is futile and will only get him placed in his crate if he continues it.
He does sound somewhat bored so is making up his own games. Our GSD makes up games where he pretends our livestock is intruding so goes all "defense" on them.
That's what bored GSDs will do.
Your dog's "game" is, "Oh, I must defend master from this person" and it just needs to be stopped.
Exercise more, in a positive manner, as well. Fetch, etc.
It's impossible to say 'why' or even 'what' your dog is doing, without being there to see what's going on. Some of what you're describing is what happens at my house, because my puppy loves everyone being together, but usually I'm in one room with him. When DH enters the room, my puppy gets very excited to see him and whines and carries on. So is your dog just happy that she's joining you?
Holding the snout until he growls sounds like a very bad idea, and not a great training method either. Why would you do that, I'm curious.
As a working dog, he needs a job. I think he is bored and assigned himself the job of "protecting" you since there does not seem to be anything else for him to do. (And I agree, this not really protecting your or his territory, this is resource guarding). Walks are good, but he needs to really be able to burn off energy. Is there some place where he can go and really run? Would there be some activities and games you could think up that you or your wife could handle, that would tire him out enough so that he is panting heavily, and ready to just plop down and sleep? Play crazy-all-out-fetch for a good half hour? Swimming?
In addition to physical exercise, I think he is telling you that he needs a job, and he needs to have his brain exercised and challenged. Perhaps you can take him tracking? have you done any training with him, would there be formal activities that will engage his brain that you can pursue? Nose-work classes are gaining popularity, and though I am not very familiar with them, what I have seen on videos so far really seems to make the dog work hard, but not the handler. :)
Maybe just put some time aside each day to work on fun obedience and teach him some tricks - those type of activities are fun for both people and dog, and helps to develop your bond with your dog.
I would not allow any resource/territorial guarding from him that you do not want. Since his behaviour is pretty predictable, mix up his routine and bring in new expectations for him, and be consistent on that.
If his obedience commands are solid, take it a step further. A sit means sit, and sit until you release him, even if he has to sit for half an hour. (of course, you would start with shorter periods. :) ) Put down a mat in your office, and teach him a Place command. He goes to the mat and lies down and stays there until released. Since he acts up when your wife comes in the office, a good way to stop the behaviour you don't want is to get him to perform a behaviour you DO want, like going to his place and waiting for a release.
But mostly, see if you can come up with some more ways to exercise his mind and body, in addition to introducing new behavioural expectations from him, that you would train and enforce as you would obedience exercises.
That cured it but he's started again. When he gets an order he doesn't like he gets mouthy - opens his mouth and tries to fit body parts in there sideways, kind of rubbing his teeth against me.
But I agree - it's not working. That's the kind of stuff I need a better tactic for.
What I have switched to is standing directly over him and ordering him down. It's kind of working . . .
I agree with comments about boredom too.
I'm not up to much more than a 30-minute walk around the field right now. He runs most of the time, pounces for things in the grass. He's better after that.
We had been doing tracking training too. I'm a few weeks away from returning to that.
With fetch all you have to do is stand there and throw the ball ;)
As castle said, though, mental games work as well.
I'd also recommend a flirt pole - a lunge whip with a toy attached to it. It's not much effort to swing it around (I'm sorry about your accident, BTW, that sounds awful) and the dog will really enjoy it. It works wonders for training commands too, like Drop it, Stay, Down, whatever you want to train, because the dog knows the game won't start until he complies, which is all they want, lol.
I like the Place idea, for when your DW enters the room, if that's a concern. It's a very easy thing to teach, if he's food motivated. You don't have to be confrontational and stand directly over him, just guide him to where you want him and reward him for the behavior you want. If he has a favorite goodie, he'll be flying over to Place in no time at all. My puppy will fly into his crate whenever I open the fridge, for example, hoping for cheese.
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