Too much all of a sudden
:confused: Hello everyone, let me give some background before I ask my question. I am the owner of a 7 month old beautiful male GSD named Angus. Angus joined our family when he was 7 1/2 weeks old. He has since been house trained, he sits, shakes, walks... okay... on a leash (pulls on occasion if something catches his attention). He was neutered at 4 months old. He goes to "doggie daycare" 2 days a week when both my husband and I are at work all day. The other days he is walked and spends a lot of time outside in our fenced in backyard weather permitting. He really is a good boy, but this past week or so has been making me nervous...
We had some people over to our house this weekend. Angus barked and growled at them when they first entered our home which is not too usual for him. He was very cautious and in my opinion showing a bit of aggression. I didn't notice what his tail was doing but his ears were back and he was not settled, backing up and almost lunged at one of my friends (due to his behavior I had ahold of his collar). Im deeply afraid he would have bit her had I not been right there. NOW... he DOES warm up after about 5-10 minutes (maybe 2-3 if the time he's acting like this just seems longer because I am nervous), and at that point our friends were able to pet and play with him.
Also, we were out of our normal routine by having people stay the night, but in the morning when they came downstairs it was like they were walking in all over again.
On top of this... when we got back from a show around 11PM he was barking from his crate and I let him out, when my husband walked in the door he reached quickly to pet him and stop him from barking and Gus got really weird as if he didn't even know it was my husband.
He was no better when my other friend came and had her 2 children with him. Again with all this said he DOES warm up... but in the initial minutes I am seriously afraid of how he acts. I don't want to be horrified when my son gets older and has friends over :(
I have NO clue where this is coming from. I knew GSD had protective instincts when we got him, we wanted a dog that would protect our family IF needed. But I thought with us there telling him it is "OK" with friends and family who visit it would signal to him he does not need to be aggressive and it doesn't. He almost had no ability to see these people were welcomed to our home and not intruders. AND the icing on the cake is when he did it to my husband.
SO, is this normal? A phase? Something that he can be trained out of? Is this a behavior that can be modified? Should he be muzzled or put in another room when people come to our house? I am willing to hire a trainer to come to our house and work with him but do you think that would help? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!
I have not raised a GSD from puppyhood before so hopefully some more experienced members will comment soon, but I found this article which may explain some of what you're going through right now:
German Shepherd: Training Throughout the Stages of Development
Get him in a structured class so he can learn confidence thru his training. If you do hire a private trainer, please get one that knows the breed...try to get a good recommendation, and not a barkbuster type trainer.
7 months is the beginning of the dogs independent awareness and they will take 'control' of situations if they feel their handler isn't giving them guidance. Because the dog is still so immature they don't know how to decipher a threat or not...especially if there is some fear based aggression attached to their personality. He probably feels your fear in his behavior. Dogs sense way more than we give them credit for.
I would be careful with his daycare experiences too. How is he there and is he getting some structure or is it all freedom?
Step up your NILIF and build his confidence thru him knowing you have his world under control so he won't have to feel 'on' all the time.
Thanks... great article!
it could be something simple like he needs training and socializing.
day care isn't training, spending a lot of time in the yard isn't
training or socializing. do you have people visit so you can work on
"greet and meet"? how much time do you spend on training and socializing?
maybe you should get a trainer.
Yes he needs more training and more socialization. He's just like my Rocky (we got him at 7 months also) and I quickly discovered that as far as company was concerned he was not a Boxer!
You don't trust him, your job is to protect him from bad experiences! I count biting company or guest in the home as a bad experience! I would get a soft muzzle for this dog and use it while company is in the house. It's a tool not punishment, if he bite's someone, everyone's world is gonna change!
And if given the chance a dog can remove the soft muzzle, so it's not a set and forget tool! It's not for wearing 24/7. He has it on when you have company or he's in his crate and stays there until you tell him to move.
Not every dog is big on the meet and greet but if he's a family pet he should be safe around people in the home. And you not constantly worry about him biting the crap out of someone will allow you to relax while he's training.
I never used the muzzle on Rocky outside of the home but I never got near other dogs, never let people pet him and used the muzzle at the vet's office for the first couple times, until I "knew" I could trust him around people!
And today he's a happy well balanced GSD that is safe around company and in public! :)
Still not a big fan of meet and greet but that's OK by me! Also I would be sure and get feed back from the Day Care and find out if he's pushing the other dogs around or is being pushed around? Crap can be going on there that's he bringing back home with him? Not a fan myself but that's me.
How much time does your husband spend with the dog!
Good luck and keep him safe.
it's good for teaching a dog how to meet people. it's for when people
Muzzle him when company comes over, tell him to go to bed and stay! If he moves "that" is your first step in training.
Then you can start a my dog won't stay when I tell him to, rather than a "My dog bit the crap out of company what do I do thread! :)
Not sure where my reply went... argh it was long! haha. Oh well... In a nutshell thanks for all of the advice! We are going to work on meet and greet, I am going to look in to soft muzzles for the time being and I have contacted a couple of trainers and will interview to see if they have had experience with this breed and also with this situation. I want someone who knows what the heck they are doing! I will also be prepared when I know someone is coming over and now know of this new behavior... it wont catch me off guard so hopefully I wont be so afraid next time and he wont sense my fear. My husband spends just as much time with Gus as me... he actually may take him for more walks than I do because if its cold I am home with the baby. Doggie daycare is only a socialization, fun and exercise thing for while I am working. They have not said anything about him being pushy or getting pushed around by the other dogs... I will find out! He obeys the workers there well, gets along with everyone so far and has a GSD buddy Haans that he met who is a little younger than him. The only thing "bad" he has done at daycare is jump the 5ft wall that divides the play group... but hey he only wanted to say HI!. If he does that one more time hes kicked out so I hope his curiosity doesnt get the best of him... they said it was more of an effortless prance over the wall... yikes!
Thanks again for the advice and if you think of anything else keep it coming please! We love Gus and will do what we have to to make sure he is safe and content and our guests are too... we need a dog that is a good family dog but will be protective in the RIGHT type of situation. I believe Gus is that dog we just need to get him there... he is still a pup.
Aww crap everything sounds good but the 5 foot wall concerns me! How high is your fence? If the training goes well this my never be an issue but it would be a concern. If you ever see him staring hard at the fence...
Mention it to your trainer, I saw a Bad doggie Boxer on the street and herded him back to his yard he was at the 5 foot gate and I was trying to decide what to do next the dog spins around clears the fence like it wasn't even there??
He had no training I knocked on the door and told the people there dogs was back. They said it was the neighbors dog?? They said yeah he comes over here all the time to play with our dog! (we have 6 foot fences on the side yards around here!)
As I say this my never be a problem but keep it in mind. :)
And good for you for stepping up to the plate instead of cutting and running. I had to do the same with my GSD, after years of owning dogs he was a new challenge.
Today he is a happy well balanced doggie ,who still doesn't much care for company. :)
So having a "problem" is not anything new..it's what you do about it that separates you from the rest.
Welcome to the club! :)
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