I own a reactive German Shepherd - what do I do? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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I own a reactive German Shepherd - what do I do?


I was told by a friend of a friend that someone was giving away a German Shepherd because of an upcoming move. I did not know this person at all but I nonetheless "adopted" my 2 year old German Shepherd. From what I understand, this person just kept him in one room (during the day) and just left him in the yard at night, which I believe led to his becoming a reactive dog.

If he sees any dog, he'll bark as loud as possible and for as long as he sees the dog. Do I want to keep the dog? Of course!!!
So, I'd like some advice as to what to do.

In the 5 months that I have owned him, his behavior has improved somewhat. I even sent him to a trainer for a full week. I formerly used a gentle leader collar for him but the trainer advised using a prong collar. In spite of the 5 months I have spent, his barking is still uncontrollable. Any advice is welcome.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 08:35 AM
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I would suggest you contact another trainer (a different one this time) and get the trainer to work with YOU on how to train your dog ... rather than sending him out for another week.

You need to work with your dog and develop a dog so that when you are training him, he learns to respect and trust you.

Just because the trainer "trained" him, doesn't me he'll listen to you!

We can all give you a ton of advice, but the reality is training, training, training and more training.

Good luck!

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 08:36 AM
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I would suggest a growly dog class for both you and your dog. You wouldn't believe the value of being trained yourself to handle your dog.

You say he barks as long as he sees the dog, what else does he do during this? How does he look, his body, face, ears? Is this from inside a fence, house, on walks?

I have an FA dog, had the options of 'boot camps' etc for training, instead opted for training for both of us. We became a team, he has learned to take direction from me. I've learned to watch his language and understand where his brain is.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:05 AM
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Like Kyleigh said, I would recommend finding another trainer that will come and work with you in your home. We will be meeting with a dog behaviorist in 2 weeks for our 10 month old GSD Jake. The key to everything is your training and relationship with the dog. Our behaviorist will come into our house for an initial 1.5 hour session to discuss our issues (we have to complete a 10-page questionnaire before the session), assess Jake and us and provide is with a detailed training plan. We will have a follow-up session a few weeks later. She will provide email/telephone support as long as needed. We can purchase additional 1 hour sessions as needed after we’ve completed the package we purchased.

Sending your dog away to a trainer is not addressing the triggers in your environment nor how you will correct the behavior in your dog.

Be wary of a trainer that will suggest your bring your dog offsite for the sessions as well. Our Jake behaves differently off his territory and he won’t display the same behaviors there. You need to correct the issues at home and have control over them there first before taking your dog anywhere for training sessions.

Also, be prepared to spend a significant amount of time on training and following a training plan provided by the trainer if you want to resolve the issues.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:07 AM
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If the dog was left in a room with a window or the backyard, he probably barked at every dog that walked by the house and learned that if he barked, the dog "would leave" (the owner would keep walking and your dog thought he was scaring them away).
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:26 AM
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You need to do lots of focus & threshold exercises http://functionalrewards.com/BAT-basics.pdf If you find a good trainer with group classes you can teach your dog to coexist with other dogs, they don't have to like other dogs but ignoring them can be just as good.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 01:37 PM
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OP, I don't know where you are located, but I would recommend finding a trainer who uses the "Control Unleashed" training protocol. I have a reactive dog and "Control Unleashed" helped us a great deal.

Even if you have to put some effort into traveling to and from classes, it is well worth it. Reactivity is something that requires experience and an almost perfect sense of timing to deal with. You really need the guidance of a qualified trainer.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 01:49 PM
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I have had a lot of success with the "Look at That" game. Every time my dog looked at another dog without going wild, I'd click and treat. I didn't exactly do it correctly, but he learned that he got treats when other dogs were around. He can now stand quietly next to another dog, as long as the other dog is not in his face. Not perfect, but so much better.

"And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all of you who replied.
If nothing else, I can see this will require a lot of work.
As all of you probably know, it is much better to have a dog that you have raised from a pup. Adopting a full-grown dog means you are also "adopting" all the training (or lack thereof) the dog has previously received.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-30-2012, 10:41 PM
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You are right....it will require a lot of work! I have been working on reactivity with Stella for months and months. Tried many different things....went through a few trainers too. The tool that cinched it for us was using a prong. But that went along with a lot of focus, threshold. look at that and obedience training as well. I can tell you that my persistence is paying off. Just today we were able to enter a new training class in a new room, with all new dogs, and a new trainer, and there was no acting like Cujo by Stella. She was able to focus on me (for the most part). The key here I think is persistence and consistency. This forum was a great help, especially when things weren't going so well. So don't give up but prepare for a lot of work!
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