I don't understand...what is my GSD trying to tell me?
So recently, I have been having some difficulty getting my Shepherd in sync with training, as well as getting him motivated/focused for anything. There has been a lot of change going on in my household, and I fear that the stress of it all is effecting the both of us. I left my ex, decided to move out, got a new job, and on my way to my own independence. However, the sudden change of power is causing my GSD and I to butt heads over who's the boss.
He's 1 year and 9 months old, unaltered, 73.3lbs, and eats Wellness Core Ocean Formula. He has a backpack, gentle leader, leash, toys of all textures, treats, the works. So basically a very lucky, well cared for, spoiled rotten dog. What's the sad part is I think he actually knows how much I spoil him and cater to him, and with all the change going in my life at this moment, I've been extra attentive to him in fear that the stress of my situations would fall upon him.
So a dog that has been a fairly well mannered and basically obedient dog a few months ago, has turned into a confusing nightmare. He won't go to the bathroom when I tell him to, except he's being picky on where he goes, won't go poop on the first trip so I have to make 4-6 bathroom trips before leaving the house. If he doesn't go, he'll just stop in mid-walking (goes with me to work) and go in the center of the sidewalk or wherever we are. If he doesn't get to go where he wants, he'll hold it, and as soon as I get back inside the house he'll whine to go back out or just go in the house if I refuse to make trips.
Next is his feeding, he won't eat when I tell him to, even if he's ridiculously hungry. I'll put the food down, walk away, he'll follow and try and play, then throughout the day will try and nibble on his food instead of eating it all at once like he used to. At first I thought he was sick, but I took him to the Vet down the street and got a full bill of health. Afterwards, I noticed that my Shepherd won't eat his food and will go on a hunger strike if I don't feed him any table food. How would you handle that?
I constantly have to repeat the commands I give him, and he's not listening the first time like he used to. Just a few days ago I had company over, and when I gave him a command, he just ran into the room with my guests and tried using them as "base" like he doesn't have to listen to me anymore. And it's quite frustrating when I tell my guests to respect my wishes when working with him...but it's either A.) they don't listen or B.) they guilt trip me on not letting my dog 'be a dog.'
So what do I do? What would you do? How would you handle this?
I would start crating him again. If he does not go potty, back in crate. Rinse repeat.
I would put his dog food down for 30 minutes, if he does not eat, pull it up until next meal. No treats, no people food, no bribing. He either eats what you put down, or he goes hungry. Healthy dogs will not starve themselves.
Training, back to basics, do a few quick sessions daily. Correct him for not doing a known command. Do not say a command more than once.
He is feeding off your emotions. You admit that you have been babying him, he does not need you to feel bad for him, he needs you to be a leader. He needs you to be strong, not lay your insecurities and grief on him. Sorry that comes off as harsh, I am sure you are dealing with a lot. Dogs are amazingly resilient. As long as you remain secure and strong, he will follow your lead. You weakness when dealing with him is allowing him to be insecure and test boundaries.
Good luck with him!!!
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It sounds as though he has life all figured out and he is being a absolute brat, dont you love how insanely smart they are?
He needs to understand he cannot roll thru life negotiating with you :) sounds like parenting advice for those pesky teens , send a msg gsdsars way :)
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You said he goes to work with you, what does he do there and do others give him treats, like sharing their lunch with him?
In the morning before work, do you take him for a walk? I would suggest to start waking up about 30 minutes earlier, feed your dog and then go for a 20-30minute walk. Somewhere along the walk he's bound to find a comfortable place to poo. When he does go pee or poo, have a happy voice and give him a training treat.
As for the food, maybe he is tired of this kind, have you tried sticking with Wellness Core but changing the protein/flavor? The other suggestion would be to put a little broth or a topping on his food, or try something completely different like a dehydrated raw type food, or a prepared frozen raw type food.
Lastly how much exercise does he get, does he get some mental stimulation and/or feel he has a job? He's been through a lot of changes and maybe is trying to say he is unhappy, unsettled, or feeling a little insecure. Even though you said he was trained, why don't you try a few weeks of obedience training in a group class. It will be something new and exciting and maybe the objective eye of a trainer can offer some better suggestions.
I see you are in the Bay Area, there is a fun and very active GSD meetup group in the San Jose area. They do hikes, pack walks, open play time, training, etc. Due to work restricitions, I am not able to attend as much as I used to, but this could be a good resource for you too. go to meetup.com and then search for German shepherds of the Bay Area.
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