Totally unacceptable aggression toward puppy!
Kaiser blew my mind last night. And not in a good way.
We had finished up our training session (the first formal one in many months, since my trip to Tennessee) and while it started rocky he ended with some really nice focus. We discussed ideas on how to manage those moments when he gets so excited he shuts me out as well as his whining/barking impatience/frustration behaviors (basically, the trainer told me to completely ignore him, and, if he keeps it up, to remove him from what he wants...take him home from the park, don't feed him his dinner, etc).
At any rate, he was in a good mood so we went inside the training center store to just chat for a few minutes. I saw down on a bench, Kaiser was allowed to get up next to me, and I talked to the dog trainer about the new food I have Kaiser on. She was waiting on her next session, which was a new puppy (probably 12 weeks old) and asked if Kaiser and I would mind staying for the puppy to meet. Like I'm going to turn down meeting a new puppy AND a training opportunity for Kaiser? Heck no! So I said yes.
A few minutes later, in walks the owner and the puppy (probably some sort of small terrier mix, a brown and white female that probably won't get much bigger than 30lbs). As they walked in, Kaiser's posture changed. He stiffened up, perked his ears forward, and I think he might have growled just a little. I got off the bench and had him come down as well. I then asked him for a sit (in the heel position). His butt barely hit the ground when he lunched forward, bared his teeth, and growl/barked. I was mortified.
I always have Kaiser sit nicely next to me when we meet dogs while out and about. He has only ever reacted to dominant/aggressive male adult dogs. He has played with puppies before, but none this young.
I immediately popped him with his collar (thankfully he was wearing a pinch) and he settled down for a moment. The trainer took his leash out of my hands and put him in the same sit position I had put him in, then told me to go pet the puppy. Kaiser stared at the puppy while I did this, then lunged again (and was subsequently corrected by the trainer). I continued to engage the puppy until Kaiser relaxed a little (probably about 5 minutes). The trainer then asked if I would stay during the puppy's training session, and I agreed.
For the next hour, I had Kaiser in a down-stay (which he eventually tried to get out of 5 or 6 times, as he got restless, and I had to put him back into a down). We were in the same room as the puppy, against the wall, approximately 15 or 20 feet away from the pup and her owner. Kaiser stared for about the first 15 minutes, then finally relaxed and lost that rigid posture. After the puppy's session was over, we left without trying to introduce the dogs again.
I'm going back with Kaiser next week (for the puppy's next session) to work on this once more.
The trainer thought that Kaiser was sort of protecting me and that his initial elevated position did not help. Not that he perceived the puppy as a threat, per say, but that he didn't want the puppy go to near me (sort of like he was guarding me). I'm not sure how I feel about that explanation though. This is totally unacceptable behavior, regardless of the reasoning, and it needs to be addressed asap. Its a puppy for crying out loud...the least threatening thing alive, aside from maybe a baby bird, or something.
Sure, he was probably a little tired from training, but then again it takes a LOT to wear this dog out. An hour of mental stimulation really just isn't near enough for him. Plus, he enjoys going to the training center.
Aside from what my trainer has suggested:
Do you all have any ideas as to what could have been going through Kaiser's mind?
Suggestions on how to fix the issue (whatever that issue may be)?
Kaiser ~ Jan 25, 2012 (GSD)
Dakota ~ Oct 2005 (GSD/Collie)
Kya ~ (Cat)
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