How do I put my foot down to a highly-demanding male GSD?
:confused:Why is my dog this way?
:mad:When is enough really enough?
:nono:Where is the line drawn between companion/working canine?
:thinking:And how can I permanently and routinely establish boundaries?
Last November of 2012, I came across an abandoned 3.5 month old German Shepherd puppy that was given to me by a acquaintance that wanted nothing to do with the dog.
I just happened to be in the neighborhood, and he literally asked me if I just wanted to take him in because he wasn't 'good enough' to be a 'tough fighting dog'. Fearing bait dog abuse and neglect, I took the little guy in, and since then he's never left my side.
Wolfbane is my first intact-male GSD, I've never owned or have had any experience with the breed, and now he is a year and two months old with an dominant - almost borderline aggressive attitude to match it. I can no longer control him, nor my other dog, and they doesn't listen to me one bit. Now my other dog, Bear, is replicating Wolf's behavior.
Here is a breakdown:
2 Years Old
Pit Bull x Bully Breed
14 Months Old
German Shepherd Dog
:cry:DAILY P R O B L E M S:cry:
* They're easily distracted, easily excited, and have no focus
* Getting over excited around kids and elderly and can't contain the energy
* Jumping on everyone whenever they want and repeating until 'seen'
* Does not obey any commands and will even bark back at you
* Pulls on the leash in all directions, walking in front of me or criss crossing
* Peeing/Pooping where ever they please while during a walk
* Barking and whining to get what they want for long periods of time
* Constantly on edge, ready to 'DART' to get what they want at any time
* Barking/Growling/Mounting people toys, attention, food, etc..
* Putting paws on my arm, chest, face, hands, legs
* Leaning and positioning themselves between my legs until 'seen'
* Darting to food, outside, when let out of crate, when going for a drive
* No patience for training, highly food driven, but they look at the food
* Baring teeth or 'one tooth' at me while slightly growling when told "NO"
* GSD uncontrollable and very loud 'groan moan heavy noticeable sighs*
* Chasing wildlife (we live in the forest w/Bears, Elk, Cougar, Eagles, etc)
* Eye stare downs - will actually stare at you until they get something
* 'Acting' anxious, fearful, nervous when given an undesired command
* When verbally corrected, they 'stem' off my eye contact, as if they're saying, 'Oh she looked at me! Ah ha I win!' and will repeat the negative behavior to get me to look again. But will not obey my commands to stop.
* NO FOCUS NO FOCUS NO FOCUS!
Now, when I try dealing with my dogs, I get so frustrated constantly trying to keep them in line that my chest gets tight, I can't breathe, I get so unfocused, stressed, anxious, nervous, and now fearful that my GSD is getting ready to bite to get what he wants.
Don't get me wrong, I just grasped the benefits and concept for training and I'm very new at it...but every time I try a new technique in public I would get scolded by that 'one person' who thinks every dog is just the way it is and should be allowed to do what it pleases, or aka 'be a dog.'
It's frustrating trying to create a balance and no one is on the same page, no one helps me out, no one listens to me when I try to train my dogs, and no one respects my boundaries when I say, 'Hey, I'm working here. Please do not distract my dog.' In turn, I give in to peer pressure and my dogs are wildly uncontrollable.
My supreme goal is to be a Dog Trainer, but how can I when my own Pack is completely out of whack?! What do I do? Where do I start? How do I catch myself from not making mistakes? And how can I rebalance and reestablish my Pack?
What are the dogs like when you walk into the house? Do they get overly excited. When I began to manage the meeting ritual I felt I started to have a lot more control over my dogs.
Here are some useful threads where i explain my theory on the meeting ritual. It is related to pack structure rather than training imo.
I would recommend 'Cesar's way' by Cesar Millan, It is better than his other books and explains how to interact with you dog to produce a calm submissive dog. It is easy to understand and very helpful for novice handlers imo.
His mastering leadership videos are great too and pretty entertaining.
Here's the first lecture, there are more on youtube. If you need to find them let me know but i think they are easy to find.
I believe you can control these dogs but you need to change your approach. The dogs know that they can get to you and make you frustrated. You need to stay in control of your self and stop reacting to your dogs. They are dogs and they are below you.
You probably need to start bringing them for walks separately.
Also do something for your own well being like Tai chi or relaxation and meditation. These things help keep your mind balanced and then it is easier to control dogs. It is usually a mind game with annoying dogs. They know you don't know dog language so they use that to their advantage.
Not meaning to criticize but, suggesting Cesar here is not a good idea. OP, look up NILIF. I think it will put you on the right track without causing you undue stress. Leadership requires calm confidence. As far as training goes, restart like you were working with a puppy, start with no distractions, other people are causing you stress so eliminate them from the equation until your confidence is better.
NILIF is awesome, and when they get pushy, crate. They will learn to behave to get what they want without you having to loose your cool.
Dudes mom, just wondering did you read one of his books or watch the mastering leadership videos?
I agree with some of NILIF but feel a deeper understanding of dogs and pack structure is required when dealing with such an extreme case as a dog intimidating it's owner. After reading 'Cesar's Way', I believe Cesar Millan provides this deeper understanding.
Madlab, I have watched the videos but not read the books.
The OP said he/she is inexperienced with GSDs and we all know they are different. :) I believe that in order to get a handle on the goings on NILIF is a great start. He sounds very pushy and knows he has the upper hand. A trainers help would also be beneficial.
The OP didn't say they were and inexperienced dog owner so maybe the drive and intellegence of the GSD is more than what was expected. But I still stand by my opinion that Cesar Milan's methods are not for the inexperienced trainer, especially one who is intimidated by their own dog.
A GSD is a dog first . The problems he has have nothing to do with being a GSD . They are typical of a who has not had any structure or limitations. Sounds like he has been running "wild" a pack of two .
Back to square one . Connection with owner . Management of freedom -- no chasing or hunting down wildlife , create a reward system , train one dog at a time not together . Visit a training club - does not have to be schutzhund -- basic heel , sit , down and stay -- CD , CDX type control .
Trainer, Trainer , Trainer.
FInd a trainer with experience and have them either come to your home or you go to them,
Work each dog separately..
Lots of good advice. Since you want to be a dog trainer. Take a deep breath and see this as a could be positive. You have the opportunity to be your own customer. Working on your two dogs, not only gives you experience but also gives you an idea of how your customers may be feeling.
Are free dog trainer classes available in your area? Or maybe a good dvd on training in the teqnique you prefer. Personally positive reinforcement and some correction is what works for me. Leerberg.com and you tube has some good training info.
Good luck. Keep us updated.
I am by far no expert, but have had multiple dogs for over a decade. What you are describing is normal dog behavior - annoying behavior - but normal for an untrained dog. My first thought is that you need to separate the dogs until this problem is fixed, or at least improved. I dont mean separate as in rehome, but crate and rotate. Research NILIF on here and other positive training methods.
Are you sure he knows the commands? For the longest time I thought Layla knew "sit" but what she knew was the treat in hand. So if I was telling her to sit without it she wouldnt - you have to ensure that the commands are known and understood by the dog before thinking they are just not listening.
I get so frustrated constantly trying to keep them in line that my chest gets tight, I can't breathe, I get so unfocused, stressed, anxious, nervous, and now fearful
Also wanted to point this out - your dogs are picking up on this and reacting in kind. I'm not criticizing you - I have been there and will probably be there again! - but for training to be effective the leader has to be calm, cool, and in control of the situation.
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