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Old 11-25-2012, 03:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is my dog my alpha?

Hello all! I'm pretty new to forums, but I did search for my issue before posting, and didn't find anything really similar to my problem. So hopefully some of you veteran GSD lovers can offer some advice!

Background: Beta (we got her when she was a really sickly 2lbs at 5 weeks) is now almost 9 months and 70lbs. She has her basic commands down pat, and is very well-socialized. She loves children and other dogs. I work from home, so we spend all day together. My boyfriend is in the military, and is usually at work from about 8 until around 6 or 7.

Issue: Beta listens to me quite well during the day, and stays underfoot, following me from room to room and even coming with me if I run a quick errand to the UPS store or to grab a bite to eat. However, when my boyfriend is home, she listens quite well to him and picks and chooses when she listens to me. She has also started "herding" me in the last month or two. If we're hiking or if I'm just walking into another room at home, she will nip my heels or wrap her paws around my ankles to either direct me or try to speed me up (my guess). Also, as of late, she has become much more vocal toward large dogs. She'll bark from a distance and her hackles stand up. When we allow her to go close enough to be introduced, she doesn't growl, nip, or show any submissive behaviors. After they have sniffed each other out, she wants to play, as usual. With small dogs, she just goes straight to her usual "lets be friends, play with me!" mode. Same way with people - she never meets a stranger!

Is she displaying "alpha female" characteristics, or is this just typical of a maturing GSD? I know they are protective and aloof by nature, but I'd assumed those behaviors would be more consistent (I.e. when my boyfriend isn't home as well) or that they would have been displayed a little later than 9 months of age.

Any input would be greatly appreciated! I love the watchfulness of the breed, but this is probably behavior that we need to correct soon, but I want to be sure to go about it in the right manner.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Is she alpha ? No she's Beta ! lol.
do you want her to be ?
" However, when my boyfriend is home, she listens quite well to him and picks and chooses when she listens to me"

there should be no contradictory commands from boyfriend and you , example he says come here , and you say go lie down and stay . As long as she listens and responds . There is no option , select -from -this- menu and choose your response. You say it , she does it . Clear and simple . No choice . Consistent , fair , appreciate the effort and compliance.
"I work from home, so we spend all day together"
I would schedule some time away -- in crate , in kennel , some breathing room so there is not so much micro managing , better for the emotional development so that you don't create separation anxiety .
" If we're hiking or if I'm just walking into another room at home, she will nip my heels or wrap her paws around my ankles to either direct me or try to speed me up (my guess)." ew , that can be real annoying - she can't impede your movement . I would solve that problem , lightning fast - not allowed - she's not the boss of you --
"She'll bark from a distance and her hackles stand up. When we allow her to go close enough to be introduced, she doesn't growl, nip, or show any submissive behaviors. After they have sniffed each other out, she wants to play, as usual. " She does not need to meet every dog she encounters -- when she fluffs up keep on walking don't allow her to focus on other dogs . Be in the drivers seat .
A few changes in management that is all that it takes.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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as carmspack said "a few changes in management
that is all it takes." do you need a trainer? so who's
alpha? you bring your dog it's food several times a day.
when you bathe your dog she just stands there without lifting
a paw to help. when in the car the dogs rides in the back.
you pay all of your dogs bills. your dog lives in a nice house
for free. you open and close doors for your dog. so with
this in mind who's alpha?

Last edited by doggiedad; 11-25-2012 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Carmspack, thanks for your reply! Her name is a little ironic in this situation, huh? we're rock climbers, and beta is a climbing term for knowledge or experience on a particular route.

We do make it a point to never give her contradictory commands. He just sometimes has to reiterate what I say for her to obey. So frustrating! And I can't believe I haven't considered that I may be setting her up to have separation anxiety. Ouch. I'll definitely be following your suggestion for that one. Guess we've been lucky thus far that she's never been destructive or acted out when we leave. But then again, she's never been left completely to her own devices for more than 8 hours or so. And you're right about correcting her herding behavior, just unsure of how to do so other than what we already employ, which is to stop her immediately. It works... Until the next few days. Also, with the situation around other dogs, I just assumed we needed to let her approach (with owners' invitation, of course) to avoid letting her think she can bully from afar or creating an antisocial dog.

Doggiedad, thanks for your reply as well. Maybe my post wasn't very aptly titled, and I should have been more clear in my post that I don't actually think my dog is the one in charge. We did have a trainer, but recently relocated to CA from the east coast, so yes, we do need a trainer here and if anyone has any recommendations in the Fresno area, I'd love to know. she also does have a structured home life and I don't take these behaviors lightly or laugh them off. I was more asking if these were exhibitions of alpha behavior, or if it's just puppy nipping, or if her barking at big dogs is alpha behavior or fear defensiveness. I want to be sure to address the behaviors accordingly.
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I did not know this "we're rock climbers, and beta is a climbing term for knowledge or experience on a particular route." but now I know , beta . lol
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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A little unrelated knowledge. she loves going on trips to Yosemite or Sequioa with us!
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi, Im new at this also, though not new to dogs, just this breed, kinda. My family had them when I was young. My dog, thinks he is king, and has to be put in his place, often. He is 11 months old. He also thinks my son who is 21, is the best ever. Will do whatever he says, though we work in tandem when it comes to Skywalker. Only way to do it, I had surgery recently and my son knows that when this dog gets his hackels up, he could hurt both of us! My dog is getting better with other dogs, though from a distance still. Working on it and wont give up even though was told that after a year it wouldnt work, still dont believe that. Apparently others on this site think so because they havent bothered to respond on that subject.
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skywalkers Mom View Post
Hi, Im new at this also, though not new to dogs, just this breed, kinda. My family had them when I was young. My dog, thinks he is king, and has to be put in his place, often. He is 11 months old. He also thinks my son who is 21, is the best ever. Will do whatever he says, though we work in tandem when it comes to Skywalker. Only way to do it, I had surgery recently and my son knows that when this dog gets his hackels up, he could hurt both of us! My dog is getting better with other dogs, though from a distance still. Working on it and wont give up even though was told that after a year it wouldnt work, still dont believe that. Apparently others on this site think so because they havent bothered to respond on that subject.
Try reposting your question. If you don't get a reply - doesn't mean no one wants to -just that your thread could have gotten lost in the "traffic" if there are lot of new threads at the same time that you posted.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D.Lyn View Post
Also, with the situation around other dogs, I just assumed we needed to let her approach (with owners' invitation, of course) to avoid letting her think she can bully from afar or creating an antisocial dog.
If she enjoys meeting other dogs, then taking her to them after she's barking and raises her hackles can actually reinforce the behavior. You're rewarding her for behaving like that by letting her meet the dog.

The way I would handle it is when she is relaxed and friendly, let her go meet other dogs. If she starts to bark or raises her hackles, immediately stop and redirect her attention onto yourself (it could be something as simple as a "watch me" or "sit" command. Don't continue with your walk (which is generally a reward in itself) and don't let her meet the other dog, or continue barking at it. You can even go back the way you came if necessary (if she won't focus on you). This will teach her that the only way she gets to meet other dogs is if she's calm and paying attention to you.
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