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-   -   Anxiety around other dogs (http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/general-behavior/416810-anxiety-around-other-dogs.html)

wrx_02 02-26-2014 05:39 PM

Anxiety around other dogs
 
I think anxiety around other dogs is what I am seeing in my almost 2 year GSD. I think I know how to fix the issue from searching online but I am hoping to hear some good ways to implement it and correct the bad behavior.

After a long day at the Cowtown Marathon (my dog didn't run) we went to a dog friendly outdoor restaurant. Now it may be of his age but he was fine until other dogs showed up. Then he will consistently give out a high pitch bark and will whine. I've heard the best way to correct this is to ignore the bad behavior and not to try and calm him down.

I was thinking using a friends dog and not letting them meet until he calms down naturally, trying to repeat this until the problem goes away? Hopefully......

I guess the other issue is he is somewhat defensive aggressive. Some dogs on leash he is fine with and others he is not. I haven't tracked down what causes it yet and it is hard to find a pattern. At my friends house he has 5 huskies and while there he is in his place, but 1 on 1 with a strange dog and you just don't know how he feels about them but he always whines and barks like he wants to meet them.

He does have 2 other single dog friends he is always fine with.

blackshep 02-27-2014 07:39 AM

High pitched barking is usually excitement, not aggression.

Sounds like it might be exactly like my dog who is a frustrated greeter and she has a low threshold. She's the worst with other dogs who are 'up' and heading our way. I will try to increase my distance to the distraction until I get far enough away that she is not fixated on it anymore.

this changes depending on the location and what the other dog is doing. If the other dog is sitting or laying down quietly I can be closer, but if it's running or bouncing, the distance is much greater.

I'm not a professional trainer though, so maybe others will have different ideas.

wrx_02 02-27-2014 09:01 AM

That sounds about right, at the restaurant the other dogs were laying down and were calm, but it didn't matter.

At the marathon all the dogs were walking around, some he would just look at quietly and some he would bark at. If they do come up fast, and he is excited he can get defensive really fast.

blackshep 02-27-2014 10:00 AM

Yeah, that pretty much describes my dog to a T.

It's really difficult to manage dogs like this in public settings. Bring lots of high value treats out with you and be really aware of your surroundings and your dogs body language. If they start to fixate on another dog (staring), get up and walk in a different direction.

It can be hard to avoid it, but you can at least get them focusing back on you as quickly as possible by walking in a different direction. It might mean you can't be right in the center of the action with your dog for a long time, but be on the outside looking in. It doesn't mean you have to avoid places with other dogs, but you have to find a way to keep distance between you and them.

For example, coming into my training class on the weekend, the two dogs she is familiar with, she was pretty much ignoring while they were sitting waiting for class to start, but going in, there was someone walking out with a Labradoodle she didn't know that was bouncing everywhere and wanting to meet all the dogs. My dog started barking and I immediately gave her a gentle pop on the prong collar with an "AHH!" and immediately walked her quickly to the right and the far side of the room without making a huge deal of it, and she calmed right down. The moment she was heading in a different direction (not toward the other dog) she settled.

I actually had a big proud moment, when I was doing recalls at class on the weekend. She was fairly close to the other dogs when I was doing the recall (when other dogs are doing them, I need to be further away, that is where the low threshold becomes a problem for her), and when she was running to me, she was going past another GSD standing to the side. He jumped up to his feet and she looked at him for a split second, but didn't waver from her straight line back to me and didn't slow down at all until she got to me, so I was really proud of her for not reacting to that.

Little baby steps...

Kaimeju 02-27-2014 10:37 AM

I think this is a pretty common problem. Does he know the command "watch me?" I have had good success teaching my dog to down and watch me around other dogs using treats for positive reinforcement. He needs something to focus on to take his mind off the other dogs. After I taught my dog to focus on me in low key environments, I started doing it out in public. After it was obvious she knew what was expected of her, I started reinforcing this behavior further with corrections on a prong collar (martingale is sufficient for her now because she got the idea very quickly). But always, always reward good behavior.

Ignoring the behavior never worked for me. I think barking is a self-reinforcing behavior. I do think being calm and not trying to pet and baby talk him is a good idea.

wrx_02 02-27-2014 11:52 AM

So I need to do pretty much as I planned and I need a controlled environment.
One where the other dog/owner is in on the training.

I think I can accomplish that. I wish I just new what would set him off to be denfensive aggressive.

blackshep 02-27-2014 12:29 PM

Is your dog actually aggressive, or just a loudmouth?

Do you have a good behaviourist in your area? That might help you at least identify what is actually going on with your dog.

My dog sounds like she's going to kill the other dog, but if given the chance, within about 30 seconds, she's wanting to play.

wrx_02 02-27-2014 12:57 PM

He is being defensive aggressive. If another dog comes up with their head up like they are sizing each other up, it is like he won't bark or anything until they lower their head. Then he will bark and chase but soon stop. He has never bit another dog but it looks like he has tried.

It only started when I was at the dog park, some other people showed up with bad dogs that were chasing and barking at other dogs. It put him on edge. If I have a friend with a dog then they meet on my terms and it is not an issue. Where if someone walking a dog sees him they come walking up with their dog and it is not good. They assume all dogs are friends, and I know he can't meet others like that.

blackshep 02-27-2014 01:19 PM

I still am not sure that he's aggressive. My dog is the same way, but other than making a lot of noise, she has never tried to bite (not saying it's not possible) and after about 30 seconds, she actually really just wants to play. A dog aggressive dog isn't going to initiate play. Her behavior is just rude though, and so I don't allow these types of greetings. My preference would be that she is neutral.

Keep in mind that a dog approaching your dog from straight on is challenging your dog, probably why he's reacting. That's not necessarily the same thing as aggression, but I think it could certainly escalate. Dogs greeting each other politely bend their bodies in a C shape and sniff bums. Greetings done head to head is challenging each other.

I honestly don't think GSD's are generally good candidates for dog parks. It seems a lot of dogs have bad experiences with other's there, because people let their dog's off leash to just run amok with ZERO control or recall. Avoid tehm like the plague with a dog like yours.

Look into finding a behaviourist to help you. I'm not a dog trainer, and I have enough trouble knowing what to do with my own dog, I'm just trying to share my similar experiences. I first thought my dog was dog aggressive, but I think it's actually frustration and her trouble with impulse control/thresholds.

wrx_02 02-27-2014 02:10 PM

^^^ that confirms what I thought. I avoid him meeting others face to face, unless he has a previous relationship with that dog. Like ones he see's often and plays with.


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