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Old 12-26-2013, 11:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New member of the family - help!!!

Hey everyone, I just joined and figured to delve into the depths of knowledge on GSDs. I'm 21 years old and just returning from college for break. While I was at school, my family decided to take in Kaiser, a two month old now closing in on 7 months. I briefly met him over Thanksgiving break and things were rocky to say the least. We had him crated and on a leash when in the house. He supposedly has a distinguished background and quite the temperament. Over the 4 day break, not too much was resolved as he would growl and always stare at me. I was told to never look him in the eye and wait for him to come to me in terms of acceptance.

Move forward a month and now I'm in a similar situation. I've been home for a week now and we were actually all feeling comfortable on letting him off the leash while opening presents with the immediate family and myself on Christmas morning. He was well behaved and even was sniffing me. I was still apprehensive about the whole thing as I still can't fully trust him. During the Thanksgiving break, he took food out of my hand but would later growl and revert back to his old antics. It startles me that I cant fully trust him. I'm on edge 24/7 and can't take pleasure in the good times we have because in the back of my head, I think of how it could all change in an instant. Today, he was well behaved as well. He was off his leash the whole morning, seemingly very accepting and approaching, even though I didn't. Later during the day though I was sitting and he was on the rug about 15 feet away and all of a sudden he gave me that look of alert, growled and dashed towards me. He didn't bite me but it was very threatening, as he came within a couple feet of me barking, and growling.

I believe that he still doesn't fully trust me and that his aggression is due to fear. He probably sees me as a stranger because I wasn't initially introduced to him and our home and has his reservations about me as do I with him. I think it has to do with him being territorial and the fact that my mother doesn't handle him correctly. There is a night and day difference when my step father is home. He is on his best behavior and doesn't even dare to look at me - his ears are back and you can sense that he fears my step dad which probably isn't helping in the long run. I'm wondering what I can do to better the situation. I'm home until the 25th of January and wish to have him as more than a pet but companion.
Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yikes.

Well, They have had the dog for 5 months? The boy is seven months old and you are afraid of him? And you were afraid of him a month ago at under six months old? Well, I can't assess the puppy, no one can without actually seeing him, but dogs are really good at recognizing our negative emotions. He may read your apprehension as something to be afraid of. The barking and growling is most likely a fear reaction to you. He is even more uncomfortable because you are uncomfortable. You and he both need to build your confidence.

And being gone back to school for the next several months means you will come back to a GSD that is even bigger and more formidable, and in its full-blown teenager stage. He may be more mature, and if your parents take an active role in training and getting him more acclimated to people during those months it may not be so bad.

I am not sure what you are wanting to hear, though. After you come home on break, I think that it would be helpful for you to take an active part in training and exercising the pup.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A pup that age should not be acting the way he is acting. Your patents need to seek the help of an experienced trainer. Now. He is a liability.

If you can, take him for walks, start trying to bond with him, feed him, excersise and train him now.

This behavior is only going to get worse if not worked on immediately.


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Old 12-26-2013, 11:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yikes.

Well, They have had the dog for 5 months? The boy is seven months old and you are afraid of him? And you were afraid of him a month ago at under six months old? Well, I can't assess the puppy, no one can without actually seeing him, but dogs are really good at recognizing our negative emotions. He may read your apprehension as something to be afraid of. The barking and growling is most likely a fear reaction to you. He is even more uncomfortable because you are uncomfortable. You and he both need to build your confidence.

And being gone back to school for the next several months means you will come back to a GSD that is even bigger and more formidable, and in its full-blown teenager stage. He may be more mature, and if your parents take an active role in training and getting him more acclimated to people during those months it may not be so bad.

I am not sure what you are wanting to hear, though. After you come home on break, I think that it would be helpful for you to take an active part in training and exercising the pup.
That is correct. They've had him for almost 5 months now. I'm not so much afraid as uncomfortable. He's pretty decent sized; 64 pounds. I'm mostly distraught that things sway back and forth. One minute we seem to be able to hangout and the next he is growling and charging at me. This is all when I have unwavering confidence because we are getting along prior to his, for lack of a better word, attacks. We've gone on multiple walks, my sister, step-dad and myself with him and he's fine. I'm guessing to just keep plugging at it?

I've tried to help exercise him by throwing the ball for him with the supervision of others. During one of these recent times, he's fetched the ball for me and returned it and all but then, out of nowhere, about 5 minutes in, he went to fetch the ball and when he came back to return it, he locked eyes on me, dropped the ball, growled and started to dash toward me. It seems like I can't win him over.

I project myself as confident and accepting and I want to be friendly with him but it seems like he doesn't want me in. I just want to know what/how I can do to be proactive and if I'm doing anything wrong.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm thinking that isn't normal. My son also goes away for college and we only had our male GSD before he left, but when he comes home for a visit the dog follows him everywhere and loves him. Have you tried taking over the care of the dog while your home...like feeding, playing catch, or going for walks? Height even sense your fear and using that against you.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by gsdsar View Post
A pup that age should not be acting the way he is acting. Your patents need to seek the help of an experienced trainer. Now. He is a liability.

If you can, take him for walks, start trying to bond with him, feed him, excersise and train him now.

This behavior is only going to get worse if not worked on immediately.


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Thank you for the response. We've seen a local trainer and he said the exact same thing - "...the concerning part is that he is too aggressive for his age."

Would family walks be just as beneficial? To be completely honest, I don't foresee me walking him by ourselves going swimmingly. My parent told me food is the motivator, so I'll keep up with that. He doesn't always take food from my hand. Is tossing it just as good?

Thank you for your help!
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm thinking that isn't normal. My son also goes away for college and we only had our male GSD before he left, but when he comes home for a visit the dog follows him everywhere and loves him. Have you tried taking over the care of the dog while your home...like feeding, playing catch, or going for walks? Height even sense your fear and using that against you.
I don't know about the whole thing. The first time I met him, when I came home for Thanksgiving break, he was barking and pulling on a leash the whole night, during supper.

I haven't tried to do anything alone with him but have been very active with the family as there is always someone else in the house. Like you said, I guess the dog is just sensing me as fearful and is playing off that.

My mom is convinced that it's just him asserting his dominance over me. Any suggestions on how to rectify something like this?

Thank you.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Do you wear hats or hoodies? Glasses? Something that is not the same as everyone else? Any medical conditions the dog can sense(long shot)?
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Do you wear hats or hoodies? Glasses? Something that is not the same as everyone else? Any medical conditions the dog can sense(long shot)?
Not particularly. In fact, being home from college, I don't have too much in my closet so my outfits are similar from day to day. As far as I know, I'm healthy as an ox.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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When you give treats, how do you hold the treat?

Dropping the treat is ok to start with. The thing is eye contact. When you are staring at the dog to see if he is going to bite your fingers off, he thinks you are challenging him. He wants the treat, but he is afraid you are going to clobber him. So, he might snatch and run, and he may growl out of fear/frustration.

When you offer a treat, open it in your open palm and avert your eyes. Do not look at the dog. Say quietly, "Take It, Gentle."

If you offer it between your finger and thumb, you are presenting a lot of finger to be taken. with an open palm, the dog will have to come from the top, and take it nicely.

As you and he get good at this, you can begin to make it a little more difficult by putting a thumb on the treat and saying "Take it, Gentle" and he needs to work it out of there, but gently.

Start with no eye contact, and as you progress start to have some eye contact.

Once he will take it from you when you are looking at him, it is time to try a different game:

Get a really good treat, hamberger, hotdog, steak, cheese. Cut it in small pieces and put half in each fist. Hold those closed fists out 180 degrees parallel to the ground. Let him know you have good stuff in there, but do not open your fist. When he looks at your face, open the fist nearest his nose and say, "Good Look." When he gets this, start telling him "LOOK" and if he looks at your face, then give him a treat.

He needs to know good things come from you, but on your terms, not on his.
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