Intact male behaviour issue with older spayed female
I have a 14 month old intact male GSD who lives with a much older spayed female. He gets quite a lot of exercise every day, and I'm starting to work with him on some more formal training. I won't try to pretend he's an angel, but he is friendly, regularly socialises and plays with other dogs without any issues, and generally listens well and is eager to please me and learn.
...that is, until it comes time to let him outside at home.
At the moment, his main goal in life at home is getting out in the garden with the female so he can run his face through her urine, preferably while she's doing it. When I stand up, he rushes to the door, licking his lips and chattering. The instant he thinks they'll be going out, I have a raving lunatic on my hands. All training goes out the window and he is completely unable to concentrate on anything other than getting out to the female.
This has quickly become an issue that creates a lot of stress. It's difficult to get the two of them out the door without him potentially hurting her. He's so obsessed that he very briefly gets somewhat aggressive with her. If I let him out first, he will either turn around and jump on her or else charge her down from across the garden. If I put her out without him, I have to physically restrain him while she goes in and out. It sounds like I'm murdering him: wailing, barking, crying, foaming at the mouth, and so on. He is 85 pounds, and I wouldn't be able to hold him if I weren't a big guy. Once the two of them are actually outside, he's perfectly fine.
I'm not really sure what to do about this. I've tried distracting him when he's outside so I can let her out, but it isn't much help. The obvious solution is that he doesn't get to go out with her, but this is a huge physical challenge. He is somewhat dominant of the female in other aspects of home life like when they meet me when I get home, and what's worked well for that is making him lie down and stay for a time out until he calms down. That option is completely useless here because he is so single minded about getting out to her that his attention span drops to almost nothing, he ignores treats, he doesn't listen to corrections, and so on. Lately I've tried crating him while she goes outside, but I'm afraid he might hurt himself. I've considered leaving him in there for longer periods so he doesn't know when she's actually going out, but it doesn't solve the issue of him constantly being on alert waiting to get out with her.
I asked for some help with this elsewhere and most people simply couldn't get past the fact he isn't neutered. I realise this is a sexual behaviour, and I have no attachment to his testicles whatsoever, but I'm not at all confident it would magically solve anything. I'm quite worried anything I try without getting advice from more knowledgeable dog owners is just reinforcing his bad behaviour and might cause other issues. I would greatly appreciate some help or comments of any kind.
They don't view bodily functions through human lenses.
here's a link to a discussion
I have the female checked. (by a vet) She may be secreting something in her urine that indicates a problem.
To handle the immediate issue (nutso guy). Why not let her out first to urinate and let him out afterward? If that doesn't quiet it down, I'd plan on keeping seperate outdoor times for each of them. It's a PIA but it will cool the immediate problem until you can have her checked out.
Google crate games. Make sure you keep it fun and rewarding. Incorporate the 'quiet' command (or what ever word you use) with part of your crate training. Even if he is already crate trained, that is the one area you have where you can exhibit some sort of control. Start from the beginning. Use high value rewards and only use said rewards for the crate. Reward even a moment of quiet. Don't expect him to give you a minute in the beginning.
Give him time. Don't expect perfection quickly. Your dog loses his focus (and his mind) during her potty breaks. It takes time, patience and work on your part to regain that focus.
Once he learns to be quiet in the crate and is solid on being quiet, you can let him out on a leash and repeat the process. Making sure you have control of his focus which is totally different than physcial control of his body!!!
To follow up... apologies for the wall of text. You can probably tell I've been thinking about this a lot.
I've been observing him closely over the last few weeks. If anything, it's worse than what I described in my original post, because it's not simply a matter of him behaving this way at the door when he's about to be let out. He is now constantly on alert about the possibility of going outside. He's started to associate it with me simply moving a chair or walking near the back door. I have to make sure I know where he is and potentially call him over before I stand up from a chair because he will excitedly charge down the female from across the house and leap on her and get in her face growling. If I stand between him and the female, I can see he's visibly very anxious, chattering and licking his lips. It doesn't matter if he's fast asleep or he's just been out for an hour-long run. His home life centres around this very specific obsession.
It is very specific. I said earlier he is "somewhat dominant" of the female at home. Some mild examples would be getting in her face around meal times, and trying to stop people from giving her attention when they greet her at the door. None of this has ever been a major issue, and I've been methodically working around it by making him sit and stay until he calms down, or distracting with a toy or game. Most of the time this isn't even needed anymore. Meals and visitors are no problem now. I can give her a treat with him standing right in front her without any issues. He's never displayed any resource guarding with food or toys.
This all changes the instant he thinks he'll be going outside with her. I've been writing this post all day, and it's really difficult to describe. He is obsessed with the actual act of getting in and out the back door, secondary to licking her urine.
If I have him lie down and stay and hold him, then have someone let the female out, he loses his mind just the same way he does inside, barking and crying trying to get to her to the point I can barely restrain him. 10 seconds later after she's urinated, he has zero interest in her and wants to get to the urine. Once he's had a good lick of that and marked on it, everything is perfectly fine and I could leave the two of them outside indefinitely if I wanted. I can avoid the bloody murder screaming by very slowly introducing her to him at the door as I let her out and correcting him several times when he tries to lunge at her, then making him stay while she pees. I suspect the whole idea of restraining him from attacking her while I let her out is very bad training.
I made an interesting observation a couple days ago: when I physically stopped him from getting to the urine, he frustratedly redirected back to the female and tried to do his dominance leaping/growling routine again. I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from that. It's also worth noting he doesn't display any of this behaviour at the front door when either he or the female enter or exit. It's entirely limited to passing through the back door in anticipation of the female urinating.
After initially posting this thread, I made some attempts at crating him while the female went outside. He hasn't been crated since he was a puppy, and it wasn't terribly "successful" except that it physically restrained him from her. I should have pursued this avenue rather than trying to calm and restrain him as described above.
I am now reintroducing him to the crate in a more serious way. He is crated every time the female goes out in the garden. When he needs to go outside, I take him out the front door and pass through the side gate. With this method I can actually crate him, let out the female, take him through the side gate, then let the two of them socialize in the garden without even the slightest hint of an issue. When it's time to come in, he goes through the side gate and back into the house, back in the crate, and then I let the female in. It breaks the middle step of passing through the door that most of this behaviour relates to. The back door is completely off limits to him for the time being.
This method is far less stressful than restraining him myself. Sometimes he realizes the female is going out while he is in the crate and does his usual crazy behaviour. Sometimes he doesn't. There isn't a location in the house where he can't hear the door being opened. If I let her out and back in without letting him out, he always realizes she has been out and will follow her around trying to sniff her back end and lick the floor where she's been sitting. So far it hasn't lessened his obsession with the back door, but it's my hope this will diminish as he realizes he will not be going through it anymore. My only fear is that he might start to associate the front door instead.
I would definitely appreciate some guidance on how to proceed from here with the crating and beyond. I am frustrated and sick with worry watching this behaviour with the female snowball so quickly. He's gone from a puppy who shadows me at home and constantly wants to play to this all-consuming singular obsession. It creates enormous stress for everyone (dogs included!). I've been putting in a lot of effort into establishing rules and boundaries and taking training more seriously. He socializes well with other dogs in public, and his leash walking is improving. Even his recall is vastly better than it was a couple months ago; I can call him back when he's thinking of fence charging the two troublemaking unsupervised huskies the people behind us own -- a huge improvement! Then I'm home and tiptoeing on eggshells.
I'll mention neutering again simply because it's almost impossible to discuss the issue elsewhere without it coming up. I have no particular interest in keeping him intact, but I also don't want to have him neutered for no good reason, especially given the somewhat dubious nature of any supposed health or behavioural benefits. I wouldn't be opposed if I thought he would be happier. I feel like he spends all his home time frustrated and anxious because of a behaviour that is clearly sexual in nature at its base. I want what's best for him, and I want him to be happy. I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to work with him to improve this behaviour before it develops into anything more serious. Hopefully I'm on the right path so far.
neutering will address this issue
he is obviously becoming ocd and without the testosterone
he may be able to get part of his brain back
my puppy was acting very sexual and aggressive
neutering solved both issues
I have no particular interest in keeping him intact,
well...then what will it hurt to neuter just in case it does indeed fix much or all of the issue?
So far the crating arrangement has been working quite well. The back door is blocked off and he never sees it open. He goes in the crate, the female is let out, he greets her at the side gate, and they interact perfectly normally the entire time we're outside. He's interested in her urine and sniffing her rear, but not to the point that he persists after I shoo him off or physically block him. He has to be in the crate, because even hearing her let out or seeing her taken to the side on a leash is enough to set him off wailing and crying. Late last night I was lazy and tried to get away with taking her the side gate route and then coming back for him, and he locked me out of the house jumping at the door to get to her :rolleyes:
The problem now is the hair trigger behaviour inside. Just moving my chair is enough to put him on alert, and he will leap up and charge down the female if I stand up. If she is beside me and he can't easily get to her, a firm "leave it" will stop him in his tracks. This doesn't work if I'm not physically near either of them and he has long enough to fixate on her, and we end up him on top her her growling and clashing teeth.
If I think back, I can chart the progression of this behaviour through puberty from simple puppy excitement about going out, to being rough with her, to constantly trying to lick her urine and urine stream outside, to getting intensely frustrated about being stopped from doing that, to where we are now. I suspect neutering would have nipped it in the bud several months ago, but proper training would also have been effective, and I really let this get out of hand with useless workarounds.
It's fairly obvious there is a large sexual component to the base behaviour of the triggering, but I don't think he really has any idea why he's going after her anymore. It's just developed because of excitement and frustration and poor training. I don't want to give anyone the impression he is constantly sexually obsessed with the female, because for the most part he has no interest. I can spend 30 minutes doing leash training inside, walking past her and the back door over and over again, and he doesn't care. They're fast asleep on the floor beside each other right now. Until I stand up and he thinks they might go out.
I'm not too sure about how to proceed with eliminating this trigger. I suppose a good start would be to make sure he is with me at all times, keeping him on the leash if necessary, so I can verbally correct or distract him. Any more ideas?
I agree with a previous post to have your female vet checked as he might smell something unusual about her.
In the meantime, can you make two separate areas for eliminating? Then let him out first so he doesn't have to focus on her fresh urine. Try the NILIF routine for a few weeks.
Once you have checked off all options and he is still going "nuts", then yes, I would neuter him. Neutering is my very last resort but if anything else fails, my sanity and that of the dogs' prevails.
The bathroom break arrangement is still working very well. The female often comes over to meet him at the gate, and all he wants to do is make a beeline for her urine, then her rear end, which I discourage with a "leave it" and by physically blocking him. If I take him out before her, I can do training and games without him being distracted. The back door is blocked off, and he can't see her inside, so he isn't sitting there desperately waiting for her. When they're outside together, he isn't particularly interested in her.
Inside, he's on the leash permanently, both for leash training purposes and so I can ensure he's with me at all times. I've been able to discourage some of the triggering behaviour mentioned earlier, so there are far fewer incidents between him and the female. However, he is still set off unpredictably, and his behaviour is pretty disturbing.
For example, today I spilled something on the floor and jumped up to clean it up, forgetting about him lying beside me. The female also stood up; he was on her in an instant, mounting and pinning her to the floor and growling and baring his teeth aggressively. Yesterday the mailman had to deliver a package, and the same thing happened in front of him in the window. The day before, the female snapped at him at the back door when he was sniffing her, and he put her on the ground immediately. I can't separate him from her in these situations until he calms down, and 10 seconds later it's like nothing happened. He's not drawing blood or harming her, but he clearly cannot be allowed to continue doing it.
I have never seen him do this to another dog. I can trace every one of these incidents back to this obsession he's built up around going in and out the back door (stand up --> they're going out, mailman delivers package --> they're going out, standing around back door outside --> they're going in) and redirecting from that. He will happily sleep beside her, let her lick his food bowl out (ZERO resource guarding), and generally interacts with her normally in all other respects (aside from some bossiness). The instant he makes the connection with his "going out" trigger, he's on her.
I have to say I've noticed other worrying changes in his behaviour in the last few months. He spends a lot of time interacting with other dogs off-leash at a large nature area (a more controlled and one on one setting than a traditional dog park). He socializes with other dogs there extremely well ("he's a gentle giant", "the best dog I've ever met", etc.). Recently he hasn't met as many dogs because of the lousy weather, and I've noticed how intensely he focuses on other dogs. He spots them at a distance and gets low to the ground, stalking them as he approaches them, whether or not he's on a leash. I'm no longer taking him there after reading about the potential impact of this kind of socialization. This intense focus on other dogs transfers to barrier aggression when he sees them from the car or behind a fence, and he's generally desperate to meet other dogs when on a leash. Pretty much the exact opposite of aloof with dogs.
I'm not too sure where to go from here. I didn't own him until a few months ago, but I have always been a big part of his life. He never had any proper training until recently. I feel like I've completely failed him in major ways that will impact him for the rest of his life. He is a wonderful, sweet, gentle dog who is loved by everyone who knows him, but has obviously been given far too much freedom and a complete lack of guidance so far. I'm doing some pretty focused training with him, working on loose leash walking and other basics. He is incredibly bright and soaks it up like a sponge. We spend an hour a day playing sit/down/stay/come fetch games, and I'm trying hard to keep him active and mentally stimulated. It was even a big breakthrough to work out he has no interest in treat training, and his focus is entirely on any toy. At home, keeping him on the leash and avoiding the back door completely are slowly breaking down the triggers with the female, but I feel like every time he goes off it sets me back far more than I've come with him. I'm also extremely worried he may become more aggressive with other dogs. I've lived with dog aggressive dogs before, and it's not something I care to go through again.
I'm now looking towards what I can do to work out some of these behavioural issues. Would a training class be a good idea? What should I be looking at his age? I've even wondered about more intense activity like agility training or tracking. Is there anything more I can do to address the problems at home? I guess this is a bit more than just a randy male dog obsessed with sniffing pee, so I don't expect neutering would help much at this point.
Sorry for these walls of text. I find it helpful even to have it so I can reference what I wrote for myself.
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