After reading about all the different types of aggression..I'm confused as poo - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 01-15-2013, 07:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default After reading about all the different types of aggression..I'm confused as poo

So, as you know, Gus is a year and a half about. I would like some input on his behavior, cause after reading about all the different types of things it could be, I'd like to share more info to get an answer to what this could potentially be or become.

People:
When we walk during the day he is fine walking right past people, although he will intently stare at them. no barking or growling. Just the stare down..

At night when he's on a leash or in the car and someone is passing by walks too close to the car he gets a very deep growl and barks/almost howls. Hackles down.

Dogs:
Doesn't matter if it's during the day, at night, in the car, house, leashed whatever. His hackles are up, he uses a very deep growl, and a deep bark, jumping around and going crazy. and if the dog starts to walk away he whines and paces in a trot almost. I've tried putting him on leash and letting him walk up to another dog when he is doing this (don't know if that's bad for him or not. I just really needed to see what he would do. and I had him under control) He walked up sketchily and sniffed for a bit ears erect but turned back, hackles still up. Then he kept putting his paw on the dogs shoulder.

What is this and how do I help him? Could this turn into something potentially really bad? How will it affect his life?

Thanks! I'd really like to do all I can to get him help.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My view is that Gus is a normal young dog and he going to act up and try things. Night is different - the scents - the darkness - the sounds, everything differnt than in daytime. So Gus is on the alert. For other dogs- first he growls to show he is one tough dog not to be messed with - then when the other dog - backs off , poor Gus is disappointed, he just wanted to have a some fun. If I were you, I would keep Gus's attention and show that I was in charge of the walk not him. He wouldn't be allowed to stare down people during the daytime and growl at other dogs because I would keep him too busy following me. When people are approaching - night or day - I would do a quick turn - even if I bumped right into Gus - then when he caught up - I would praise. If I couldn't turn - I would have Gus sit and put myself between Gus and the other person. I would praise Gus for holding his sit/stay. For other dogs - with Gus on his leash - I would turn and go in the other direction. I wouldn't let Gus go into his act when he sees another dog. I would also play lots of tug and fetch with Gus - and let Gus win the tug, also step up the exercise which a young dog needs. If you have training classes in your area, it would be a good idea to sign up for them. If there is a dog day care where Gus can interact with other dogs with a trainer present - I would suggest signing him up also for that. You are right to work on this now at this age before serious problems develop.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep his attention. I've tried food, toys, commands. I've been trying to go to a trainer, but the one I was referred to doesn't do training on my days off. So I have to wait until I can alter my work schedule.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It sounds to me like he needs more socialization and to learn to pay attention to you on walks. I know it feels like you can't keep his attention, but I have never met a dog whose attention truly can't be redirected. You can't just feed him or try to play with him. Try suddenly changing directions, zigzagging, running backwards, whatever. Keep doing it until he looks at you, then give him a food or toy reward for that. You might feel like an idiot but I promise you'll be able to get his attention.

When you see someone approaching while you're walking him, either start zigzagging, or if he'll do it, put him in a sit and ask him to focus on you. Try to do this before he starts staring them down. You'll have to pay a lot of attention to your surroundings. You may also have trouble keeping his focus no matter what when you're very close to other dogs, so if you find that's the case, try to keep a safe distance from them. Once he learns to ignore them and pay attention to you, you can start getting closer. Also, if he doesn't have one, teach him a "watch me" command--when you say it, he needs to look at you. You'll use that when you start to see his attention wander.

Just stuff to work on until you can get help. For what it's worth, he sounds almost exactly like my Hector was when I got him. Hector is now a model citizen--he walks on a loose lead even in close proximity to other dogs and people (even when said other dogs are barking and lunging at him!), greets new dogs politely, plays well, etc. He just needed to learn that new dogs and people aren't a big deal, and that I'm the one controlling things on our walks so he needs to not worry about it.

As far as the different types of aggression, this sounds like reactivity rather than true aggression. It doesn't really matter that much in the situations you're asking about though, because the response is the same for either--him learning to listen to you and let you take the lead on walks or in the car.

What kind of socialization have you done with him when it comes to other dogs?
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree that this sounds like reactivity. The challenge is that you have to be more interesting than the other dog/person. I've used a squeaky toy in my pocket, hot dog bits, increasing my speed, turning randomly etc.

I just want to add that I frequently walk Havs at night through some sketchy areas--not by choice--long story. I tolerate his suspicion and what I call "creepy stalker" attitude on those walks. Hav's doesn't bark or growl but he watches every passerby very intently. I usually make him sit and allow the sketchy people to pass. I live very near a "drug and prostitution corridor" and Havoc is a great deterrent.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for all of your help, guys! I'm really glad that this is something I can control. As for socialization, I'm really embarrassed to say since this is my very first dog, and I didn't do my research before buying..he hasn't had too much. When he was a pup he was around two dogs constantly. Every now and again he be around another dog for a few minutes. I had no idea it was as important as it really is. I've been trying to introduce him to more dogs now. Male, female, adults, puppies. But its hard because I don't really know anyone that owns a dog. (Or if they do they aren't model citizen dogs) and I didn't want to stress him more than I had to.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Remember that it isn't important for him to be a social butterfly at this point. He may never be a social butterfly. Many dogs aren't. You want him to NOT react. Work towards no reaction at all.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GusGus View Post
Thanks for all of your help, guys! I'm really glad that this is something I can control. As for socialization, I'm really embarrassed to say since this is my very first dog, and I didn't do my research before buying..he hasn't had too much. When he was a pup he was around two dogs constantly. Every now and again he be around another dog for a few minutes. I had no idea it was as important as it really is. I've been trying to introduce him to more dogs now. Male, female, adults, puppies. But its hard because I don't really know anyone that owns a dog. (Or if they do they aren't model citizen dogs) and I didn't want to stress him more than I had to.
I thought so. Like I said, he sounds exactly like Hector was when I found him, and I'm not sure Hector had seen another dog in his life other than the litter he was removed from!

For right now, I'd focus on teaching him to ignore other dogs and just hold off on the introductions for the time being. It's easier to socialize a dog if he learns that being around other dogs isn't something to get worked up about, which he can learn just by being desensitized to their presence on walks and such. That's how I usually handle adult dogs who lack proper socialization.

One of the big benefits of training classes for a dog like this is that your trainer probably will have a dog or dogs who are model citizens and will be useful for teaching your dog how to interact directly with other dogs. Since you don't have reliable access or a lot of trust in the other dogs you have access to right now, that's another good reason to put the direct introductions on the back burner until things work out for your training plans.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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What interests me - how possiby could the dog react with same strenghth of ferocity and absolutely adequately on different dogs? I cannot call it an aggressive act, if my dog was simply challenged, she reacts at the alien by inquiring bark. Try to read your friend, maybe there's not that much of agression, but streams of unexpressed emotions.
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