Nipping and Possible Agression?
Hello, everyone! I'm relatively new to this forum :-).
I have 1 GSD who will be 1 yo on the 4th of July. I absolutely love him. But lately I've had some problems and am not sure how to go about helping him. I also have one Cocker Spaniel, she will be 3yo this October, and a new kitty we recently adopted. I'll explain the problems one by one, although I'm sure they're related.
1) He usually gets along GREAT with Tita (Cocker Spaniel). But sometimes, when my husband or I go outside (backyard) to get the laundry (our washer and dryer our outside in a little shed type thing), he starts trying to nip her neck (it seems playful), Tita hates that, she reacts, and they start a fight. Is it jealousy? What is it? I can't seem to understand it. We take them out both for walks, and don't have this problem. They ONLY fight under those circumstances. They don't fight over food, they play with each other, Gardel (GSD) cuddles up with Tita when it's cold out. I just don't get it...
2) Everytime someone comes in to our house, he kind of nips at their heels and sometimes even their hands, and he jumps up. This might be because lately we haven't been able to spend that much time with him (we're sort of going through a family crisis, and are having a hard time giving him the attention we used to give him). Could this be the reason? Or is he just nippy?
3) I go out running with Gardel, but have problems when other dogs walk by. This happens when I go out on walks as well. He goes CRAZY. He starts kind of lunging at them, and does like a high pitched cry/bark. I think he's a bit of a Nervous Nellie, or something, but I just don't know how to help him!! This one time a lab puppy came up to him, he just looked at him, and Gardel suddenly lightly nipped him!!
4) I don't know how to help him bond with the new Kitty. Tita had no problems. A bit resistant at first, but now they get along. Gardel just seems like he wants to eat him, and also lunges at the kitty,
I hope I'm giving enough info!! I really want to help my dog, but don't know how to go about it!! I've had a GSDs before, and other dogs, but I didn't have to deal with these problems.
Any help is appreciated!! THANK YOU!!
Your german shepherd is 1, still puppy behavior with the nipping. When he nips the best thing to do is go "uh uh" in a loud firm voice. My adopted dog is was in his teenage years when we got him & he was a nervous mouther. He did little nips on our arms quite often, but we consitently "uh uh" & he got the picture. Now, very occasionally when he gets excited he will almost go to nip, but stop himself. You can also tap your dog & say "uh uh" as well to pop him out of the behavior when he is nipping people's feet, etc.
As for walks - my dog was crazy on a leash upon seeing other dogs. It was so embarrassing because he looked ferocious & my gosh the noises that came out of him were like he was dying!! GSDs are so vocal & babies sometimes! Anyway, our cure for that & it took a while, is a prong collar. You don't have to use one, but it works for us & if used properly, not inhumane. Choker collars are worse with a reactive dog, my dogs almost choked themselves on those, but on a prong, they get the quick pinch & it stops their bad behavior.
The important thing I learned from walks is that you have to get your dog distracted when you first see the other dog approaching from far away. If you wait until he is in crazy mode, it is impossible to snap him out of it. What I do is when I see a dog approaching & he first notices them, I will tap him, give him a tug of the collar or make a psst noise. Anything to break the stare & distract him. I even take my leg & nudge his back legs & that will totally throw him off guard & he's like "huh?". You can tug the leash, bump with your body, etc. Anything to break the stare. As the dog gets closer I just keep walking fast while distracting him with touch or some "uh uh's". I have also taken my dogs & had them sit facing the other way as the dogs walked by. Every time they turned around to look I would nudge them & it seemed to keep them from going crazy. I am now at a point where they are learning that dogs walking by on leashes are a normal part of our daily lives & there is no need to bark like a crazy dog at them. Another good tip is to never come straight on to a dog approaching the opposite direction. Try to go to the side or cross the street or I have even pulled into someones yard or driveway to avoid a straight on approach. That is very threatening to a dog. I also was given advice to sit somewhere where dogs walk by often & as they are approaching to give them tons of high value treats & stop treats as soon as dog is in front of your vision (but be far enough away). Stop the treats when dog walks away because you want the positive behavior to be when a dog approaches you not when he walks away from you.
As for the kitty, our last adopted GSD came into our home at 8 years old with never having been around cats. We had 3 cats & he acted like he was going to eat them at first. What we did is put the cats in another room - the basement - all the time for the beginning. It was hard because we missed the cats & it seemed they would never get along. But we slowly introduced them by letting them sniff under the door, get used to the smells. Then each day, maybe once or twice a day we took out each cat & leashed Rocky & one person held the cat while the other held the leash. Only do this for a few minutes because you don't want to overwhelm all of the animals. We also made it a party when they were together. We petted them & talked to them & gave them yummy treats - chicken. They loved that. It showed whenever the cat was around good things happen.
Now this seriously felt like forever & I cried many times because I thought they will never get along. But only after a month of this - they finally were ok! We got to the point where the cats were free to roam & the dog was used to them. Lots & lots of chicken for them! It really worked. Of course we did not leave them together alone until we were sure they would be ok. Look at my avatar - that is proof that they do eventually get along. My cat & dog did get to the point that they even slept on the couch together. It was so cute!
Sorry for the long post - just love to help & let you know that it all does work out!! Good luck.
As for the biting your other dog when you & your husband are out - that could just be stress. Dogs are very sensitive to our feelings & act out on them. When my husband lost his job, there was an enormous amount of stress in the house & my dogs picked up on it. Try to just keep their schedule & give them walks & treats & have them do things like sit, stay, down so that they can feel proud of themselves.
The jumping on people should not be allowed either. Tell the person the best thing to do is quickly turn their back to him & 'uh uh" loudly when he jumps on them.
Good luck & please update!
Another idea is to create a look at that cue. Do this at home, with little distractions. Say "Look at that", point if you want. He can turn and look at whatever it is you are pointing at (and at this point it could be the grill in the back yard it doesn't matter) and when he turns back to you, reward him. Keep working on a solid "look at that" at home with any object, then work up to people or the other dog in the home. Then use it on walks.
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