Random Freak Outs on Walks - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-24-2014, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Atlanta; originally from rural south Texas (yes, cows, horses, and cowboys)
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Random Freak Outs on Walks

I have a one and a half year old neutered male GSD who is pretty good nearly all the time. He is our first family dog and we got him from a kill shelter (the pound), back in Oct 2013. He's very sweet nearly all the time.

Because he has such a good temperament most of the time, I find it shocking when he randomly will get "crazy" while on the leash.

This doesn't happen every day, or even "a lot", but it's happened enough to make my husband and me feel anxious about it.

During the day, this almost always happens in ONE particular spot at the corner of my street. He likes to start rolling in the grass and then runs around in circles (think of a lunging a horse) on leash, and will often charge at me to nip, plus a lot of barking and whining. If you pull him off the grass, he stops.

During the night, if it happens, it is MUCH scarier with a lot of snarling/growling, running in circles on leash, and yes a lot of charging at whoever is holding the leash (me). He has given my husband a bruise from where he bit him on the stomach, though he has never bitten me hard.

Tonight he did this and, although it was scary and I had to wrestle him, he didn't bite hard at all--not a mark on me, in spite of the fact I was wearing a skirt. He was SO scary, growling and snarling and snapping, and I was afraid he would bite me and also afraid to let him go because we were right by a busy street. I was afraid he would get hit by a car if I let him go. I was more afraid he'd get hit than of getting bitten, I guess, because I grabbed him by the collar and tried to hang on to him, rather than let go of the leash. So, we tussled right there on the corner until I could subdue him enough to call my husband to come help me get him back home.

Just FYI I'm a first time dog owner (as an adult) and first time GSD. We've done obedience classes with our dog, and truly, he is mostly such a sweet boy. He loves kids, other dogs big and small, and is a gentleman at pet stores and restaurants. He's GOOD. Also he's a total Momma's pup, so I was really shocked that he would growl like that -- he has NEVER growled like that (at me, anyway)--it was like a teddy bear turned into a grizzly bear for ten minutes. I'm not ashamed to say my dog scared the bejesus out of me.

Like I said, he has acted, once in a while, like that on night walks (just to do his business) with my husband, and he nipped my husband pretty hard, enough to bruise him. He had never done that with me, although he has done the grass rolling/wild with excitement day time thing.

Most of the time, on walks, he's good. He still pulls on the leash, but he's normal, just sniffing around and walking with us.

Anyone else have anything REMOTELY like this experience? Could he be afraid of something, or get suddenly overstimulated? I don't understand this behavior at all.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 12:35 AM
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Sounds like some version of the "zoomies" maybe? If he's in the middle of one of these episodes of behavior and you offered him a high value treat, and asked him to sit, what would happen?

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 12:55 AM
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Is your dog allowed to run in your yard? High energy is their middle name. My guy will get the run in circles and growl and try to jump at me. I got him a "Jolly Ball" from Pet Co. he takes out his `"aggresion" on the toy and is getting excersize at the same time.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
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*sigh* This message just got deleted as I tried to post a long response. At any rate, thank you both for responding! I will retype my response tomorrow! I'm going to look up that Jolly Ball for sure!
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 02:18 AM
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My 10 month old male gets the zoomies at times. Where he will run around the yard, dart inside,jump on the couch and zoom back outside. It's kind of comical, but I hate when he does in in the house. We have tile floor and I don't want him slipping and jumping on the couch wildly, especially if my 2 or 5 year old is on the couch, so I monitor it closely. He will get a little mouthy also while doing this. Not a hard bite or anything but a simple NO and he stops the mouthing
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 07:45 AM
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Could there be something in the grass that's setting him off? A scent of something? Maybe a squirrel or a mole nest underground?

Until you figure out what the trigger is in that one spot, I would complete avoid it, walk the other direction or cross the street if you can.

There is one spot next to our house that used to set my guy off almost like yours. He wouldn't bite though.) Even in the dead of winter with 3 feet of snow he'd act all crazy. When the snow melted, we found a large tunnel in that spot that led to some animal's den/nest.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 07:54 AM
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Sounds like the zoomies to me too! My two usually get that way first thing in the morning when they are released from their crates. I would purchase or make yourself a flirt pole. Exercise him before you walk him. For a German Shepherd a walk is not enough exercise. An exercised shepherd is a happy shepherd. Good luck

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses!

My husband made our dog a flirt pole and yes, he loves it! It's a good way to get those wiggles out for sure.

We don't really walk him for exercise. He goes to the dog park to play "chuck it" and/or catch the Frisbee for an hour in the morning and usually an hour in the evening too. We don't have a yard (apartment/city dwellers), so we are out there at the dog park rain or shine. I know dog parks aren't better than having your own yard, and there are many issues surrounding them, but we're lucky to live near two very nice ones. They are large and wooded and he can run around a lot. He also loves to play "hide and seek", where one of us goes into the woods and calls to him and he "finds" that one, then vice versa. He likes the other dogs just fine, and will sometimes play with them, but he's really there to play "games" with us. He's quite intense about having his "game time", but otherwise at home he's a lazy dog asleep in front of the a/c vent or by my chair.

When this crazy stuff happens we are on a walk, but for bathroom activities. He usually wants to walk up and down the block before he does his business. I'll find some other corner to take him to, though--good idea. It may be something under the grass, or it may be something else. I have noticed that he is much more keyed up at night, very "on alert." The night time crazy was so scary, though. I kind of wonder if he got scared of something or if something set him off. I guess it could have been a zoomies thing too, but it was so much more intense than his day time "grass attack."

Does anyone else have that too? A bit of change in personality from day to night?

I take him practically everywhere with me and he LOVES being out on the town, so he's really happy to meet people/be social/etc at restaurants and stores (pet stores, Home Depot, etc)...I think he thinks "running errands" means "we go in the car and then strangers tell me I'm so handsome and give me treats." [We live in a city where even at Chick Fil A, the drive thru person will give your dog a dog biscuit with your order if he's in the car with you.]

Anyway, at night he gets very alert and more "Shepherdy" about guarding our home (standing and looking out the window, chuffing under his breath). He also does "patrols" because I've heard him walking around the house at night (we don't crate him). I wonder if he could be afraid of the dark?

Thank you all for your responses! This forum is great--especially for a newbie owner like me! Lots of great advice on the threads. Thanks again!
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 11:38 AM
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Skadi scared me with the snarly nippy zoomies at night a few times.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Oh! And as far as treats go, yes, if I have treats with me he will totally settle down to do commands. This has only happened in the day time though. I used to ALWAYS have treats on me bc that grassy corner is also where my son's bus stop is, and my dog and I would get him from school every afternoon. Always had them on hand in case he did "grass attack" while we were waiting for the bus. Like I said, doesn't happen a lot, but just in case.

I always forget at night because I'm just taking him out to do his business. However, I will start taking treats with me at night too, in case he goes bananas again. Maybe he'll settle down for treats. He was a stray before he was picked up by animal control, so he's REALLY food-motivated. Like I said, I'll be avoiding that corner too, though.

Thanks again!
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