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Old 04-15-2008, 07:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default very overprotective gsd,help

we have a 4yr old neutered male gsd. He is so wonderful w/us. However he is super(and i mean to the extreme)overprotective us me and my daughter. my husband works away and after my husband leaves for the week he goes on guard mode and i cant get him off. He has tried to bite the mailman,he has cornered my neighbors son and just the most recent thing was today when we were walking. He was so hyped when me and my daughter were walking b/c my daughter was in front of us. Smokey was not having it and wanted to be in front of my daughter. We were walking and this guy was in his front yard. He asked if he could pet smokey adn i said no. Smokey was actually ok(tail wagging,body launguage good)then the guy said here i will give you some treats for him. Ok sure(the guy is a nice guy). He went to his truck and smokeys deminure changed instantly. When the guy came out of his truck smokey was fine. The guy then went to talk to my daughter and smokey flipped out(growling,hair up,ect..) I told him no in a firm voice and we left. Now we were walking and my daugter is in front of us and a man walks around the corner of a building and smokey freaks out again(just a bit growling,tale stiff). We get to another part of town and there is this guy(well probably in his early 20's)standing on the street corner(waiting for something no less).Smokey would not take his eyes off of him,totally in dont make a move mode until we got out of sight(i kept talking tohim in a calm voice and just being normal). He didnt freak out but it wouldnt have taken much to make him.
He is still protective when my husband is home but it doesnt seem to be as extreme as he is when its just me and my daughter.
We have talked to a behaviorist who said to socialize him more and get him around ppl. Ok so how do i do that when he snaps at ppl? When we take him to the lake and and even the behaviorist did things and it ddint set him off(he took my daughters hand,he fed smokey treats,ect.)smokey didnt act aggresively at all. My husband was there so i dont know if that was why he didnt react aggresively or not. Help i love him but i can not have a dog i can not trust. Its like he is overguarding(not even fear aggression. Just plain old guard mode). I pity the person that broke into my house,really.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

I guess i should add he isnt skittish at all. You can startle him,you can play in his food bowl while he is eating. You can run up behind him and grab him and he doesnt even flinch. He seems scared of nothing(well except t-storms).
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

What do you do for training and leadership? It sounds like this dog defers to your husband but when he leaves, the dog assumes the leadership role which is wrong and dangerous! Do you let the dog dictate feeding times, playtime, potty time, is it allowed on furniture and the bed, is the husband more strict and firm and you more lax? It sounds like the dog is clear that Hubby is top boss but the dog also feels it is second in command. All humans should play the top leadership roles and all dogs need to know their place is at the bottom of the leadership hierarchy. This does not mean dictatorial leadership but it does mean you need to take charge and give fair, firm leadership where you respect the dog but most of all the dog respects you AND your daughter. Your daughter needs to be part of this as well! It's fine to be protective, but your dog is deciding when to protect and how much, a decision that should be up to YOU.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

Yes my husband is more strict.I guess i tend to be more laid back w/him. He is very obediant w/ me and my dh but he does respect my husband more. Perfect example of this i guess is when my husband and i walk out of the house and smokey follows(a total no no in my husbands boo)us outside my husband says firmly"smokey get in the house now". Lets just say my hubby expects perfect obediance from him(he is firmly reprimanded when he doesnt obey hubby. Not physically punished but punished non the less). He gets it but even sometime smokeys aggresive side comes out even w/hubby home(not much though). He is allowed in bed i suppose(never knew that created problems). So hearing that what do you think i should do. I should add that he doesnt dictate feeding times or play times,or any other times. Although when i tell him something it takes me a bit longer to get results than my hubby does.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

Stop allowing your dog on the bed. He can have his own bed or a crate in the bedroom, but even that may be pushing it (bosses have the best spots). It is best to keep him out of the bedroom because access control is a major deal when it comes to privileges. As a leader, you can go anywhere in the house you want. As a subordinate, your dog should have less access because clearly it thinks it's boss, so it must be convinced of the opposite!

It is also time to be as strict as your hubby and expect more. Have regular training sessions every day, 10-15 minutes, so Smokey can get used to obeying you and taking direction from you in a fun way (keep it motivational but use corrections as necessary). It's always best when EVERYONE in the household treats the dog the same. In mine, I am the clear boss with Renji. He respects me very well and he does respect my fiance, but not nearly as much. The leadership communication is thus unclear which creates problems for all of us. If we were all on the same leadership page, I'm sure the issues we have with Renji would be much better! He's a work in progress, but it gets better every day. I tell you this so that you're aware that fixing leadership issues is not an overnight solution despite what folks like Cesar Millan would have you think!
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

We have a door at the top of our steps. I close it at night so my daughter doesnt fall down them at night. Should i start keeping it closed at night w/smokey downstairs? Should i totally keep him from going upstairs at all? I am open to suggestions. I agree he does think he is boss as he will jump up on the couch and is difficult to move. He plants his legs and is stiff as a board.
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Old 04-16-2008, 10:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

I don't agree with this keeping out of the bedroom thing. I've seen Diane write that before but I don't know where it comes from. If I am the pack leader then I want my pack around me. I think keeping him off of the bed for now is fine. Eventually he can be on the bed as long as you tell him when he's allowed up and he gets off when you tell him off.

I would get him a comfortable wire basket muzzle that he can wear when you take him out. That way you won't have to worry about him snapping. I would start doing short obedience sessions with him a few times a day. I would also be sure to use Nothing in Life is Free at all times. He needs to know that you can handle things, including decisions about when you and your daughter need protection!

As for getting him off of things--get a really good treat, tell him off (you can show him the treat to motivate him if necessary) and teach him place or bed. Then when he's on his own bed give him the treat. Initially you may have to do it in steps so that you treat him for getting off of the sofa and for lying on his bed.

Please understand this is not about being mean or dominant. It is about establishing leadership. Your goal is to be a fair and consistent leader. Once you've established that he will stop thinking he needs to make decisions.
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Old 04-16-2008, 11:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

DianA. It sends a clear picture of who has privilege and access rights and who does not. Nothing mean about it. After the dog's behavior changes and he earns more privileges he can be granted access. Everyone has a different idea on how to live with their dog and likewise everyone's dog is an individual! Some dogs don't need much, others will push buttons constantly in a "give an inch, take a mile" struggle if other areas concerning leadership are shaky, especially if one individual is treating the dog more as an equal than a healthy owner/dog relationship. It's all about sending a clear message and in this case, I think it's best to go overboard (without being an angry dictator) than not do enough. Of course, if one method worked with all dogs, we wouldn't have a bazillion dog trainers, training tools, and training books!

The dog can still be with its owners if its bed/crate is placed in the hallway and the bedroom door is kept open yet gated. There is now an answer to the worry of isolation; the dog is with the "pack" but not in the "A-List Room."
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Old 04-17-2008, 12:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

I see a different picture here. What I saw when I read this was a very extremely defensive and nervous animal. This behavior could be coming out when you husband leaves because the dog sees him as the pack leader and your husband offers the dog firm leadership and security. In his absence it seems the dog is nervous at your husbands absence and very defensive to his environment and people in it. This is not "protective" behavior IMO but the behavior of a dog that is lacking confidance and in a defensive state.

I think the behaviorist was correct and he needs more socilaization. Obedience work can be of a great help here. I would make walks part of that. You can make them upbeat and productive by expecting obedience breaks throughout your excapades outside and using OB exercises of a way to distract him from things that seem to make him nervous.

Do you have physical control over this dog or does he tend to push that with these episodes? Meaning is there the possibility of him getting away from you when something like this happens?

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Old 04-17-2008, 08:08 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: very overprotective gsd,help

Poor dog needs you to step up and take over as leader. I agree with no sleeping in the bed, walking more (should be daily.) You should take him to an obedience class.
Your husband needs to lighten up his method of correction.
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