15wk old male GSD attacked by 3yr old male GSD - He's not the same - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 03-21-2014, 04:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 15wk old male GSD attacked by 3yr old male GSD - He's not the same

Hello everyone,

Long-winded post ahead.

My husband and I rescued what we think is likely a pure bred "American" German Shepherd from a local GSD rescue. We knew that without going to a reputable breeder, we were in for possible trouble (lack of confidence, weak nerves, etc.), but our puppy, Hunter, just seemed to be the one for us.

And we were/are lucky. Hunter is a crazy GSD male with loads of energy, but boy is he SMART and he aims to please. He was walking well on a leash by 11 weeks and behaving off leash shortly thereafter. We've had him in 4 puppy training classes and he's doing wonderfully. He's been socialized with many dogs and children and people and everyone loves him. He only would bark outside our house (I've heard this is normal).

Two weeks ago, we were walking back from the park and were stopped by a man and his 3yr old GSD, who we found out had also been adopted from a local shelter. The older dog was VERY calm and sweet. Hunter went the sniff him (after 5 minutes of chatting no less) and out of nowhere, the dog attacked him and bit a hole right through his ear. The man was devastated and apologetic and said his dog had never done anything like that before.

It's two weeks later and Hunter has not been the same. He barks at EVERYTHING. We live in a city across from a daycare and he barks at the little kids and baby carriages and teeny dogs and garbage cans. He races ahead now and looks nervously around when we walk. If a dog barks at him he bolts. Any "alpha" status that my husband and I had seems to have vanished. He's been in a cone of shame, too, which makes him even less happy a camper.

1. Any possible explanation as to why this seemingly gentle dog would want to bite Hunter when Hunter has gotten along with every other dog he's met to date? We feel awful that perhaps we didn't read the signs?
2. What can we do to help Hunter be confident again and reestablish his faith in us as his leaders / parents? It's been so sad see this happen to him and we want to continue to socialize him as soon as possible.

Thank you so much.
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Because the big dog didn't feel like being sniffed by a young'un. Dogs are not always nice to each other, and puppies sometimes get put in their place.

Protect your dog. Keep interactions positive, only interact with dogs you know and you are sure won't do this.

Relax and don't be anxious yourself. Your nervousness travels right down the leash. Go to places where *you* feel happy and confident, let him watch, but it is not necessary to have him interact. If he races ahead, do an about turn, with the happy voice, and lure him with a treat. Bring toys on walks. Keep them short and fun and always end on a good note. If he even starts to think of barking, distract him.

And forget the alpha thing and become your dog's protector and benevolent leader.
Good luck.
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you! I think the bite hit us in its own way and he's probably feeling our guilt and insecurity about the situation. Thank you for the tips on how to make the walk more positive. Seems we may have to take steps back to go bounds forward.
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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YOU need to be calm and relaxed to take control and SHOW your puppy that the world is still a great place and you'll be there for him. Redirecting, getting the attention on you (food? toys) BEFORE your pup reacts with the fearful barking to keep the oncoming dog(s) away.

Lots you can do in the DVD 'Calming Signals' by Turid Rugaas to calm your pup. Vital to act early before your pup is overwhelmed and that DVD will show you the quiet calm early cues we humans miss.
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Trauma like that can have a very long lasting an possibly permanent affect on the behavior of the dog. Its something you might consider board and train for to resolve but only at a place that has stable dogs your puppy can routinely interact with under a positive supervised environment so that the dog can get over that issue and regain some confidence in the world.

A good training class would also help, but whatever you do you should act on it soon while the dog is still young and pliable

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Old 03-21-2014, 04:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Try not to over-react when your dog over-reacts. Just tug on the leash and keep moving. Do not stop and let the dog get into his routine. A little tug and say, "it's only a dog," or kid or whatever, in a pleasant normal tone.

Keep walking with your dog. He had a bad experience, but now he needs to get over it. No coddling. Protect him. No baby talk. And if you are nervous, suck on a mint.

That might sound like weird advice, but many obedience people know that dogs key in on us. When we are nervous, our breath changes enough so our dogs can mark the change and sucking on a mint can make a difference.

Keep your voice up beat, and happy, keep your pup moving. No nonsense. It's just a dog, and move on.
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That's why I don't do dog parks or do "I thought my dog was friendly folks"

Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea

If you have a good doggie and handle him right he can bounce back from this!

This was my approach with my people aggressive dog and the same approach with other dogs, his place was behind me, I decided who he met and what dogs saw him..the answer was none for the dogs.

Leerburg | Who Pets Your Puppy or Dog


Your life will be much simpler if you just adopt a ignore other dogs policy, treat other dogs like furniture just step aside or cross the street, no corrections just "move along.dog nothing to see here". Don't let other dogs get in his face!

After awhile he will know that you have his back and other dogs are of no concern to him! If you have his back he'll have yours!

Last edited by Chip18; 03-21-2014 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Sorry to hear that this happened - it's human error 100%. I've been through this before with my German Shepherd's and my wife's Brittany Spaniel Pitbull mix - 20 years ago -when my wife used to tease my German Shepherd's with her dog by saying go Gett'em - well one day it was the other way around as she let her guard down with all the dogs together and Spanky ended up with a hole in her ear - my female had her from the rear end and my male had her by the head and it was devastating for everybody.

Reiforce positive things - one never knows how the dog is going to react. I do not allow my puppy near anything that breathes that's not human !
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Yeah....not a good experience for a pup learning the world...but at times it happens. I agree with being one step ahead of game...a pup with another dog which you have no idea about...and both on leashes ( I assume )..sounds like a gamble...one I would stay away from...especially on leash.

No doubt the new "posture" your pup has taken can be dealt with and corrected but going forward your posture can't be one of fear/trepidation when encountering other dogs.....I agree...dogs sense our fears and react to them in various ways....especially when we reinforce their own "fears" or incorrect behavior.

My current GSD was a bit too much dog aggressive or reactive on leash...off leash, she's no problem. Over a period of time, I have taken a mentality of " I will guide you through **** and back and will not falter one step"...and when I say this...I think one truly needs to exude this mentality..you must reek of it...no faking involved..your actions need to display this AND so does your gut....no faking as I said. Other dogs on walks are simply a fact of life..no special concern is required...the moment and I mean the moment I sense a change in her gait/posture/alert status/etc when it comes to another dog on a walk...I give her a simple.."leave it" and we proceed strong and proud..with a bit of a distraction thrown in for good measure. In the beginning, a series of 2-4 quick but fairly weak snaps on the prong collar sent the signal as well...and I ONLY did this if she put pressure on the leash...as long as she left slack there was no reason to tighten the leash on her and apply any corrections.

For the past few months, I purposely go out of my way on walks to encounter other dogs....and this is what I meant earlier...I truly believe I will guide her brightly and no other dog out there walking concerns me nor should it concern my dog.

You have a new project with your pup and as Chip18 stated "If you have a good doggie and handle him right he can bounce back from this!"..I completely agree. I also believe all the other replies are most certainly worthy and indeed helpful. This Baliff character () and his understanding of dogs has helped me with my current pup....as has others.... so as a disclaimer...I'm a rookie who is only stating his experiences.

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Old 03-21-2014, 06:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Chip18 pretty much says it all well, and the leer burg articles are totally on target.Some people are unaware of what their dog is capable of doing, especially in rescue situations. It is certainly an unfortunate situation, but you have gotten some excellent suggestions here- best thing to is just move on, keep it from happening again, and yes, don't let these other dogs get in his face. Yes, you will have to be his protector for now, for some dog owners are pretty ignorant when it comes to controlling their pets on leash. And forget about the free-for-all manner of dog parks, that's another whole set of potential problems. I think with time and a lot of reassurance your dog will recover very quickly. Like I said, ALOT of great advice before you here, and I am sure you can get awesome support for your pup-
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