I have posted about my 16 month old boy's sudden behaviour change before, but I've only asked about solutions. I'm wondering if anyone has an idea of why it happened?
I got him when he was 2 months old, and the amount of socialization he got was intense. We went to the dog park for 4 hours a day (I have missed so many classes because of it:eek: ) We also had a doggie group for our condo every night where they played, and the owners chatted for an hour before ending the night. I have basically been to every single dog park there is in Toronto. We also have been to 3 training classes. I cannot stress how much socialization I put him through.
At around 8 months, he started to show signs of territorial behaviour. I.e, growling when his ball was touched at the dog park. He never did this before, he was always a super friendly sweet dog. I remember this one rottie followed him around the park, trying to hump him, and he would just keep trying to get away. He didn't even bark back or tell him off. He would just continue to try to play with other dogs, and try to ignore the rottie. When he started showing signs of aggression with his ball or sticks, I corrected him. Told him NO! Made him sit, lay down, put him in time out, etc.
It still escalated, and now we can't walk past a dog without him barking and lunging. He even barks at dogs from our balcony. The last time I went to an off-leash area, he started so many fights. I have stopped going ever since.
I've had different trainers teach me different techniques. None have worked. He is still lunging and barking at any dog that he sees.
I'm just really upset that I can't bring him to dog parks anymore.. I also just want to know what made this happen. I feel like I did everything I could, if not more, to socialize him and train him. I get even more upset when people tell me he wasn't socialized enough:mad: Can it be genetics? His neutering? Do any of you have any idea? :confused:
The problem "was" the dog park! That's why your not going to find a lot of pro dog park folks around here.
You have pretty much outlined the perfect way to create a dog reactive dog! Your job is to protect your dog from bad experiences,not only did you not do that but you put him in circumstances where he could get punked!
Then when he tried to protect what was his...he gets corrected! He's reactive to others dogs now because he feels he needs to protect himself because you haven't!
So uh no it's not bad genes.
Now you have to rebuild a relationship of trust with this dog, dump your trainer and find some one qualified.
I don't know if this dog will ever be able to be a "dog park dog" but he can be retained to be civil around other dogs.
Basically treat, ignore and move on. Avoid other dogs, on a walk no more dog parks! Your goal now is to reestablish a relationship of trust with your dog.
Treat and ignore is now your goal. When your dog sees another dog give him a treat so he focuses on you. Don't get close enough to other dogs for him to strike! Your goal is not making friends.
He gets a treat for ignoring other dogs and if he locks on them turn around or cross the street break focus, Your goal now is for him to ignore other dogs and focus on you! That's the essence of what you want to do.
You actually did pretty good with the dog park ,all you got out it is a badly socialized dog, you could have done worse...
Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea
Wow! That is a very informative article!
I completely never saw it that way.
I feel like a complete idiot for going to so many dog parks now :/
I think you have done a wonderful job of socialising him as a youngster, you couldn't do any more. GSDs do go through personality changes as they go through adolescence, you will find many people, including myself, had no problems with other dogs or in dog park situations when GSD was a young puppy but once they hit that 1yo age, they do change. Imo it is perfectly normal for this breed and depending on his training and you, they tend to settle down and not be so reactive around 3 to 4yo - they mature.
In terms of genetics, yes this can have an affect on his temperament, depending on age neutering generally removes the need to be aggressive, except for behaviours that have been learned, neutering can't undo what has been learned.
Imo german shepherds are a bit different, they are not docile, lazy loveable labs, or ultra friendly 'every dog is my friend' golden retrievers, they don't necessarily make good dog park dogs, some do, a lot don't.
If socialising at the dog park is important for you, for your relaxation and socialisation with other people then you could take him for a small amount of time but perhaps keep him on the otherside of the gate on lead and use reward based training for good behaviours. Otherwise, don't go to the dog park - these dogs don't need it or even enjoy it as they get older. He would probably much prefer doing fun things with just you.
Just keep up your training, keep him well exercised with a variety of exercises and see how he is in a year or two.
Very Nice and well said.
Thank you everyone for your encouraging words!
I was starting to feel like a failure of an owner.
I recently talked with another trainer who has had many GSDs in her life, and she suggested rewarding and training outside the dog park, and eventually, when he's ready, bring him in for short periods of time ON leash, and treat and reward while training.
Thanks everyone :)
Spinkamor I'm not so sure it is a good idea to bring him into a dog park on lead when all other dogs are off lead, it puts him in a disadvantage with displaying proper dog language to other dogs, as he may be pulling forward etc, it may also make him nervous, another not good trait for the dog park.
If it were me, I would not have him on lead in the park, outside of the park is fine as there are barriers.
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