1 Year old male, at a rescue, needs lots of training, looking for some advice
Hi everyone. My wife and I just looked at a one year old male sable gsd at a no kill shelter. He has been there about 3 months, and he was neutered right before he was brought in to the shelter. We were told that he came from some higher end breeder in North Carolina. The lady running the site says that he needs lots of training and she will pay for it through a local guy that trains K9 units and others.
We went to see him at her kennel. When you go in all of the other dogs are barking and jumping up on the fencing, but he doesn't bark, his ears are up, his tails swishes and he does not jump. The manager says that he has ok manners but is afraid of anyone who is not a pack leader. When I put my hand out towards the corner of his door he took half a sniff and kinda freaked. He knelt down about 4 inches backed up and started barking like crazy. We went into the other room while the site manager brought him out on a leash, now she says that she is the only one who can handle him without any issues, but he drags her through the door and around the room. As long as you make no move towards him he is fine with everything, he looks everyone over and when you talk to him he is fine, just don't reach out to him.
Next she put him in a different kennel outside, one that he was never in before and he started marking his territory, and eating a little food. You could stand right next to the door and he was indifferent, but if you reach out he barks and gets jumpy. He did this to my wife, and she forcefully said no and he backed right off and sat back, calmed down, but didn't fully sit. She did this about three times through the kennel door. It's like he wants to listen, but is unsure about everything.
His background isn't the greatest, his owner was a high school student that ended up homeless and the dog ended up isolated in a garage until he was surrendered. He has been there a couple of months, so we think he is around a year and a half actually. I don't think he knows his name well, at least he didn't respond much to his name from us of the site manager, and I don't think he was taught the basics. We were also told that he will nip or fear bite anyone who he sees as not a leader, he bit two people but only with little damage. He's not a bite and tear or bite and hold he is a nip and leave me alone type boy. We were also told that he sticks close to the person who takes him out no matter what. The one girl tripped and dropped his leash, so he went running off about 15 feet and then immediately came back to her side.
My wife is pretty good at speaking dog and she knows he will be lots of work, and perhaps a liability in the future. She was also wondering if his scent marking and eating the food from the strange kennel would be a sign of him being "permanently dominant".
I am wondering what everyone thinks of this one, his attitude, and what training will do for him. I would really like to work with him to hopefully get him more adoptable and learn something myself by working with the trainer. I don't know if he will fit into our family, but I think if someone works with him on a consistent basis and gets him some confidence he would calm down and not be a biter.
What does everyone think?
Find a really good trainer to help...and everything you posted sounds like you are knowledgeable enough to discern who is or isn't going to be that! Go in with eyes wide open on that K9 trainer, some are a bit compulsion based, and this dog may not need that, but confidence/bonding time with his new people.
I wish you luck, it sounds like he's stressed from the kennel, but his genetics will have him overcome it with ease and your direction!
Thanks for the confidence. I know the trainer is a bit different, he doesn't use food, pain, or bullying. He is a praise trainer, and I am wondering if a combination of that and clicker training would really work with this dog.
There's only one thing in the back of my mind, and my wife's, will he be a liability even after he is confident and sure of his owners? I just don't want to see this behavior reappear 5 years down the road.
I really do think that the environment at the kennel is hurting more than it's helping. He has no consistancy, only a couple people feed him, and only one can actually take him out.
I will speak with the trainer later today and we will see what happens!!
A lot depends on the individual dog. If poor socialization is the cause of his fearful behavior, but his bloodlines produce stable dogs, he should be able to overcome a crappy start and rebound into the dog he is hardwired to be.
OP, it sounds like you are looking at this dog as a potential foster? I would be very careful and think this through, asking yourself "What if..." type questions. Like, what if you still have him three years from now because you can't find the right home that can handle this dog and his issues? What if he were to bite someone while in your care and control?
Shelters are stressful places, and the GSD is notorious for not handling them well. However, the fact that this dog has been there for three months and only one person can handle him concerns me. He does not sound like a dominant dog to me, he sounds like a fearful dog. A fearful dog will mark just as quickly as a dominant dog. And in my experience, a dominant dog is a lot slower to put on a big show of aggression and is a lot slower to bite.
I love fostering the shy-soft dogs. I do not foster shy-sharp dogs. The pool of potential homes for these dogs is so very, very small. If the shelter wants to give this dog a chance, and they are willing to pay for it, why can't they send him to board and train with the local trainer? See how he responds to an experienced trainer before putting him out in the community in a foster home? At this point I see huge liability issues with this dog. With so many nice dogs needing homes, and many of them dying every day because their time simply ran out, it boggles my mind why a shelter or rescue would put so much time and energy into a dog with these types of behaviors. Their shelter, their rules. I get that. But even still.
If he is dragging the kennel manager around, I doubt he is seeing her as a "pack leader". There are so many questions here.
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