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Old 05-18-2014, 01:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Aggression after "successful" introduction

Hi all!
I am a first time GSD owner but have owned many dogs over the years. Wanted to get opinions on a recent aggressive incident to understand my GSDs point of view and the best way to work on this.

Background: Adopted my now 22 month old neutered male 6 months ago from a small rescue organization—GSD got to be “too much” for its family with small kids. At my house it’s just myself and my DH, no kids, with an 11 year old eskie and 2 japanese chins. We rarely have visitors. All dogs get along playfully, Eskie gets testy occasionally, but she is too old to care too much, no big problems. GSD has significant impulse to chase the cats, but they are separated so not around much.

GSD seems a bit timid around my DH, shies away, responds quickly to him, avoids him, gets a worried look sometimes, but DH easily takes him outside, into car to run him to the groomer, etc. GSD is complete mama’s boy with me, very bonded, sweet, affectionate. No signs of aggression to either of us.

I took him to basic obedience class that advocates use of prong collar and leash corrections. All commands were new to GSD, but he did well. Has bad habit of jumping on me when I come home, which we make good progress on with leash correction/prong, and he has learned to sit beside me in “calm”, but he needs reminding.

Dog Aggression: Serious desire to confront other dogs when we are on walks, but no lunging or barking, just “the stare” and hard to keep on task. During obedience class, he went into the stare and then aggression toward other dogs in the class, not at first, but after a few sessions. I had to really manage this by staying far away, distracting my dog, working to keep him on task.

Human Aggression: Seriously loud serious barking when pizza delivery comes, or anyone dares walk outside near the house. On walks, does not seem overly concerned with humans, just attentive, but I don’t go near anyone and actually, we don’t see many humans so not sure about this.

A few weeks ago, my sister and her kids came to stay. GSD was excited, and nipped my young niece when she went to pet him, but did not draw blood. I had him on a leash, waited til the dog could smell them and see them, thought he was ok. This happened at the doorway, and I decided he felt crowded so made a note to self to have all introductions in a large room, on a leash. Afterwards, GSD curled up on the couch with me and my niece, no further problems.

This weekend, my parents came for a visit. Introductions went fine, large room, leash. He became very affectionate, lot of face licking, wiggling, requests for hugs. No problems. The next day, my dad was doing some work on the porch, coming in and out of the door. He came inside at one point, and the GSD bit his hand, drawing blood!! Dad said he was nervous about the GSD, stood still, and then moved and the GSD bit. Unbeknownst to me, dad said he was nervous about the dog previously, as the GSD seemed to want to take nips. Since things had gone well the prior day, I was not paying attention, but now I know, and the GSD is on a leash with me for the rest of the weekend.

Plan: Really like CHIP18’s approach (What would my dog do?) and clearly will keep my GSD on a leash whenever we have company, and never off leash outside, stand between him and others, even my family when they visit (if they ever do again….) and beef up obedience, focusing on leave it and watch me, which we have not learned yet. Also, lots of exercise before visitors come. Also putting some thought into alternatIives to leash corrections.

Questions: Is this fear aggression or protection or a little of both? I am really curious about his bite behavior a day after introductions seem successful. How can I help GSD understand that certain people are “ok” and not threats?

Really appreciate your thoughts, I am committed to helping this boy become a great dog.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Of your dog seems timid and scared around some puerile
People, please do not use a prong collar on him. You want him to learn that people are friendly and nice, not associate them with the correction in a prong collar-which is the opposite of nice.

Have people throw treats to him as they walk in the door, it walk by on the side walk. I would also feed him treats for looking at you while near other dogs.
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrglade View Post
Hi all!
I am a first time GSD owner but have owned many dogs over the years. Wanted to get opinions on a recent aggressive incident to understand my GSDs point of view and the best way to work on this.

Background: Adopted my now 22 month old neutered male 6 months ago from a small rescue organization—GSD got to be “too much” for its family with small kids. At my house it’s just myself and my DH, no kids, with an 11 year old eskie and 2 japanese chins. We rarely have visitors. All dogs get along playfully, Eskie gets testy occasionally, but she is too old to care too much, no big problems. GSD has significant impulse to chase the cats, but they are separated so not around much.

GSD seems a bit timid around my DH, shies away, responds quickly to him, avoids him, gets a worried look sometimes, but DH easily takes him outside, into car to run him to the groomer, etc. GSD is complete mama’s boy with me, very bonded, sweet, affectionate. No signs of aggression to either of us.

I took him to basic obedience class that advocates use of prong collar and leash corrections. All commands were new to GSD, but he did well. Has bad habit of jumping on me when I come home, which we make good progress on with leash correction/prong, and he has learned to sit beside me in “calm”, but he needs reminding.

Dog Aggression: Serious desire to confront other dogs when we are on walks, but no lunging or barking, just “the stare” and hard to keep on task. During obedience class, he went into the stare and then aggression toward other dogs in the class, not at first, but after a few sessions. I had to really manage this by staying far away, distracting my dog, working to keep him on task.

Human Aggression: Seriously loud serious barking when pizza delivery comes, or anyone dares walk outside near the house. On walks, does not seem overly concerned with humans, just attentive, but I don’t go near anyone and actually, we don’t see many humans so not sure about this.

A few weeks ago, my sister and her kids came to stay. GSD was excited, and nipped my young niece when she went to pet him, but did not draw blood. I had him on a leash, waited til the dog could smell them and see them, thought he was ok. This happened at the doorway, and I decided he felt crowded so made a note to self to have all introductions in a large room, on a leash. Afterwards, GSD curled up on the couch with me and my niece, no further problems.

This weekend, my parents came for a visit. Introductions went fine, large room, leash. He became very affectionate, lot of face licking, wiggling, requests for hugs. No problems. The next day, my dad was doing some work on the porch, coming in and out of the door. He came inside at one point, and the GSD bit his hand, drawing blood!! Dad said he was nervous about the GSD, stood still, and then moved and the GSD bit. Unbeknownst to me, dad said he was nervous about the dog previously, as the GSD seemed to want to take nips. Since things had gone well the prior day, I was not paying attention, but now I know, and the GSD is on a leash with me for the rest of the weekend.

Plan: Really like CHIP18’s approach (What would my dog do?) and clearly will keep my GSD on a leash whenever we have company, and never off leash outside, stand between him and others, even my family when they visit (if they ever do again….) and beef up obedience, focusing on leave it and watch me, which we have not learned yet. Also, lots of exercise before visitors come. Also putting some thought into alternatIives to leash corrections.

Questions: Is this fear aggression or protection or a little of both? I am really curious about his bite behavior a day after introductions seem successful. How can I help GSD understand that certain people are “ok” and not threats?

Really appreciate your thoughts, I am committed to helping this boy become a great dog.
I don't think you can fix temperament. That's why I think your basic plan is the right way to go with this dog. You'll spend his entire life trying to make the right introductions to different people and he's still going to be unreliable.

Obedience, teaching him how to behave and removing the pressure of him trying to accept people touching him will let you enjoy your dog. I'm not a big fan of group classes, if you want to work with a trainer, I think you'd do better with something private focused on you and your dog.

What I would do is starting at a distance where he's aware of other dogs or people, teach him to lay down. When his down is solid, slowly reduce the distance. You only correct for not following the known command. You don't correct for being fearful and you don't reward it either. Be consistent.

The goal is that distance becomes nothing, he learns to be indifferent and you can relax.
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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My sister has a GSD rescue that is similar to yours. But he got 2 bites in before they really realized they had an issue. That and me telling them that his behavior was NOT ok and is going to end up getting him PTS.

They worked with a great trainer, who taught her boy "place", taught my sister how to stay calm and assertive and how not to buy into his fear. He dog was acting out if anxiety/fear when he nipped.

He is still a work in progress. But he now can have successful introductions. In fact the guy he bit twice is now a good friend to him.

I would recommend having new greeting happen outside of the home, and actually not be a greeting, but a walk together around the block and them everyone comes in the house together. Then the new people should go for walks with you each time you walk him. In between, the dog needs to remain tethered to you and given commands he knows to follow.

Teach him what you want him to do. And praise him for doing it right.

Good luck!!! Hope your dad is ok.


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Old 05-18-2014, 07:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A place command is similar to what I mean. I just don't use a set place. I tell them settle wherever I want, that way I can do it at all times.
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Old 05-18-2014, 09:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would recommend having new greeting happen outside of the home, and actually not be a greeting, but a walk together around the block and them everyone comes in the house together. Then the new people should go for walks with you each time you walk him. In between, the dog needs to remain tethered to you and given commands he knows to follow.
This is smart--have the intro occur in a more neutral setting outside--guess I was going for that by going to a larger room, but its still part of the castle that needs to be protected, right?

Looks like my dad will be fine, just broke the skin, no bone or tendon damage. My Buddy was back to licking his face today (muzzle in place)--no way I trust him though. Happily, he does not mind the muzzle and its staying on no problem.

Quote:
Obedience, teaching him how to behave and removing the pressure of him trying to accept people touching him will let you enjoy your dog. I'm not a big fan of group classes, if you want to work with a trainer, I think you'd do better with something private focused on you and your dog.
This also is very helpful. Agree completely on private training. I spent most of my time working with getting my doggie to stop trying to lunge at other dogs instead of focusing on the positive aspect of learning. Created stress, for me at least. Also agree on the idea of removing the pressure of getting him to accept others--makes a whole lotta sense.
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Old 05-18-2014, 10:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I had a gsd like this. It was fear aggression and after many years, 3 levels of OB classes and a lot of daily work, I was able to get him to the point where he was predictable around people but I never let down my guard. Consistency and setting up rules and boundaries for people visiting my house and for my dog was key.

Until he understood the routine for company I kept him separated from people he didn't know. He was somewhat ok with people in public but not in the house or in my truck.

I would condition your dog to a muzzle for his own and your guests safety. And find a really good trainer/behaviorist who has experience working with a fear aggressive gsd.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Consistency and setting up rules and boundaries for people visiting my house and for my dog was key.
The humans need rules and boundaries to0--I am sure we have all seen that, right?
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