5th GS owned, having some trouble. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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having trouble, need help!

My family is a German Shepherd family. In the past we have owned four German Shepherds, and all required little training when it came to aggression. They rarely barked, never growled, and greeted every new human and strange animal with kisses.

In November I purchased an 8-week old puppy, Kona. When I went to pick him up the breeders introduced me to his parents. They barked at me from the time I arrived until the time I left. I tried to let them sniff my hand but they wanted no part of me.

My family also owns a 4-year old Basset Hound and a 3-year old Catahoula. Kona was raised with them so he shows nothing but love for the other two dogs. However, about a month ago I noticed him starting to bark much more at the neighbor's dog than he used to. It's becoming more of an issue every time I take him out for a walk. We can't make it 20 feet without him wanting to stop, bark and growl at every person or dog he meets walking down the road.

So, here is my problem. Today Kona and I took a little trip to see one of my friends who owns a Great Dane. I figured we'd have some problems at first, but it was much worse than I imagined. His hackles came up immediately and he growled and barked more than I have seen before. I popped him on the nose and told him "no" each time he did it. We did make some progress in about two hours' time.

He is not neutered, and I do not want him to be. So I need tips or any sort of help in training this aggression Kona has towards other dogs. I don't mind him being a little protective, but I want to be able to have a sociable dog that I can take places without having to be concerned with what he may do. Thanks for any help!!

Last edited by lmeadows19; 01-21-2013 at 09:16 PM.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 02:47 AM
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Have you looked around to see if there are any puppy socialization or training classes near you?


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 03:14 AM
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looks like the pup is true to his background .. he is becoming his parents --

but you can manage things and a training class is a good recommendation.

the dog seems overwhelmed and is fear reactive -- arousal , defensive barking , hackles . Forcing the issue does not help.

I would not let him stop - to focus and bark . Carry on , continue and make him connect with you . Popping him on the nose , I assume means you are flicking the end of the leash-? - that adds to his fear response making an unpleasant experience even more so.



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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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5th GS owned, having some trouble.

I am looking into an obedience school not far from my home.

By popping him on his nose I mean using my hand. So I should let him continue to bark and growl at other animals? I want him to have a "happy medium" of aggressiveness. I read something about different types of aggression, whether it is fear-based or protective or defensive.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 07:06 PM
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He is at the age where everything is new to him. You want to keep his experiences positive. I personally would not pop him on the nose. That is a very sensitive part of a GSD, But to each his own I guess. If his hackles come up like that, he is not very happy and probably scared. Get him out of there. A great Dane probably looks like a horse to him. I wouldn't force him to meet dogs all the time. You are his master and his protector. He needs guidance right now, and needs to know you will comfort him when he is not sure. I am sure you will figure him out. You just have to see what makes him tick. All German Shepherds have different personalities. Good Luck to you. Just give him time, he will get it.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 09:48 PM
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From my experience with my previous very un-socialized and (back then) extremely dog aggressive Rescue Pit girl, I can only suggest that you really should consider help from a professional trainer and in the meantime, when these situations arise, to be a leader in the way that you give your youngster the reassurance that even, while this is a strange and frightening situation for him, he has nothing to be afraid of and that nothing bad will happen to him.
Once he realizes that you are calm and are not tight (I know, pretty hard in these situations) he will "stand his ground" easier and won't go straight into "survival mode".
My trainer taught me to spot these situations before they even came up and taught me to keep the dog distracted and focused on me in a rather playful active manner.
In the beginning I did the mistake on also punishing her for her aggressive behavior, but this negative stimulus did just enhance the outcome and she started to connect unfamiliar dogs with me being "tight" and sharp to her.
Every dog is different and I think a professional that is right there when this situation arises will be very effective in guiding you through these situations.
I learned that socialization outside "the family circle" is crucial for these dogs.
Good luck and I hope this is over soon :-)
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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Loneforce: I was under the impression that introducing him to new animals while he is young and while the aggression is most likely at its mildest stage would be the best way to go. I was worried if I waited until he was older then maybe things would be "too far gone" and he would never be a social dog. But with the way things went yesterday we won't be having any more play dates with the Great Dane anytime soon. But while I'm sure the Dane's size had a lot to do with it, he also has reacted violently to a Boston Terrier. As far as the disciplining goes (popping his nose), should i just resort to stern commands when he is doing something wrong. I feel horrible when i pop him but sometimes "NO!" just doesn't seem effective.

Ursula: I know I am his master and I am supposed to protect him a reassure him everything is okay, and I did that many times. He watched me play with Nicodemus (the Dane). I felt like him seeing me with him would let him know that everything is okay. When I wasn't playing with the Dane, Kona was right behind me, never left my side. I attempted to walk away, but I did so with hesitation. I don't want him to be afraid to be without me and I also don't want to "baby" him. But maybe he's just too young and too scared to be in that type of environment.

After having so many dogs I felt like training another would be a breeze, but I am so lost right now because I've never had one to show this type of behavior. But thanks for all the helpful tips, I'll definitely put them to use!
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 11:28 PM
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Try food(really gooooood treats) or a great toy he loves to reward his being within sight(a looooong way at 1st) of a calm dog. Just rewarding him EVERY time he is seeing another dog(or person) will change his outlook about it. YOU must control how close they are & move away until he stops reacting ++++there is the spot you begin with rewards. You only move closer by a few feet each session & retreat if He reacts. This takes quite some time but will work & make him happier to see strange dogs/people. Good luck!!!!!!!!
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 11:30 PM
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It is important to understand why the dog is barking and growling. When you say hackles up, that is classic fear related response. This is important in that it may help you to respond differently to the puppy, knowing the puppy is aggressing out of fear. If it were not the case, giving him a correction and then giving him a command at what you want him to do, and beefing up your leadership would work fine.

But with a fearful puppy hitting him on the nose is likely to make him more fearful. You do not want him to bark and growl and hackle at the other dog. And you do not want to coddle him when he is fearful. The best thing to do is to get him out, but keep your distance. Before he considers barking or growling, get his attention on you and have him do something, SIT! When he does that, you praise him. Gradually start working him closer to other dogs. At the same time, work in class on basic commands, lots of praise and treats. A fearful dog likes good leadership that will protect him. Through training he will gain confidence in you and in himself, and you will gain confidence/trust in him. As this builds, usually the reactive fearful behavior should lesson.

The goal may be different than your other dogs. He may not be a dog that will enjoy a play date with your buddies dog. He may be a dog that would prefer to stay home than romp with another dog. For starters, getting him to be able to be under control near other dogs, to ignore other dogs might be where you end up.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 02:05 AM
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Your corrections are probably doing more harm than good, find a great trainer asap. If his behavior doesnt improve you shouldnt breed him.

Last edited by volcano; 01-23-2013 at 02:09 AM.
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