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Old 01-07-2013, 01:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is she smarter than me?

Hello! I'm new to site and have a 1 year old female. We held off putting her into obedience training due to trying to plan a wedding shortly after we got her. She's always been fairly well behaved, though, and didn't think it would be a problem.

She and I officially start training this coming weekend, but I've been working with her for the past couple of weeks at home. Here's the thing: Over the weekend she tried to break out of her crate while we were gone. (And by "break out" I mean she had one of the bars completely removed and pulled away and other bars mangled.) I realize this is a form of separation anxiety and will deal with it, but the following day we had family over and she behaved like an angel! I swear she knew I was telling them what she had done and wanted to show them that Mom was exaggerating! That evening when I took her out to play and work on some training exercises, she pretty much ignored me. Naturally this was after "grandma and grandpa" and her human "siblings" (our grown children) had left.

So...is this normal? Is she displaying typical "toddler" temperament?
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think we all have moments when we think our dogs understand far more than they should. And it's a given that they'll always prove you wrong...whenever I tell someone how rotten my dogs are it seems like they behave like angels, and when I tell people how good they are...well, we won't go into that. In the horse world it's become such a widely-held superstition that I know few trainers or riders who will brag about their horse before going into the show ring, for example!

In truth, though, we have to remember that our animals experience the world very differently than we do. I believe that they do understand more than a lot of people give them credit for...but I don't think that they're quite capable of that kind of thinking. Instead, I think that there are other factors that we don't even notice that impact the animal's behavior.

In your example, I would wonder if maybe she was so attentive and well-behaved because she was engaged and excited by your visitors (even if they weren't actively playing with her), and then after they left she was tired or you just weren't as interesting so she ignored you. It's also possible that, since you haven't had help training her yet, you are not working with her in a way that gets her to listen. I see a lot of people using ineffective commands and body language that their dogs are prone to ignoring when it suits them.

I would also caution you that chewing out of the crate isn't necessarily separation anxiety. It can be, but it can also be a sign of a bored or understimulated dog. Unless you have other reason to be sure she has true separation anxiety, perhaps consider whether she's getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation--1 year old GSDs are a handful!
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi Rowdy Dogs!

Thanks for the info. She probably isn't capable of that level of thinking - it just seems so reminiscent of when my children were little and would go out of their way to prove me wrong! My husband mentioned the same thing you did - she was probably calmer yesterday because she just plain enjoys having the company around and possibly ignoring me later because she was just tired from the excitement.

The crate thing...I'm not entirely sure if it's separation anxiety or not. I work during the day and spend about 1/2 hour outside and 1/2 hour inside working with her after work - playing, training, running, running, running.... I've started really focusing on training during this time within the past month and up until then we hadn't had a problem with her trying to escape. It could be coincidence, but it just seemed to me that the more time I spend with her the less time she wants me away from her. I picked up a pressed rawhide bone (to prevent choking hazard) and put it in her crate this morning. We'll see how she does...
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The only thing I can count on is for my dog to make an ass of me when I want to show her off. LOL
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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An hour a day of exercise isn't really that much for a typical young GSD...that's about the minimum I'd recommend for a more laid-back dog. But of course it varies hugely by individual, so she may be okay with it. Just something to consider.

Training often results in a stronger bond with your dog, which makes them want to be with you more. But, in theory at least, it should also result in a confident dog who is fine on its own! My dogs are like that--the more I work with, the more they become "velcro" dogs who always want to be with me. At the same time, though, they're fine being left alone. One in particular will get into trouble (opening cupboards and the like, since I don't crate them) if he isn't getting enough exercise, but it's clearly boredom rather than separation anxiety since it is targeted destruction (he only goes for food) and it goes away once I get off my lazy bum and exercise him some more. Again, not trying to tell you what's going on with your dog, but something to think about! In my experience, true separation anxiety is a lot more rare than a dog who is just bored and sees the opportunity to play when the owners are away. Separation anxiety isn't uncommon either though, so it's definitely something to discuss with your trainer.
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The rowdy dogs:
Hector-2 y/o GSD (mix?) rescue
Scooter-12 y/o ACD/Border Collie mix
Bandit-8 y/o ACD
Wooby-14 y/o ACD
Abutiu "Abi"-ACD puppy and hopeful future SAR dog!
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