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Old 02-11-2013, 11:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Young GSD nipping other dogs

Hi! I am hoping for some help and advise. I am a first time owner of a German Shepherd. He is a rescue dog that my husband and I have had for about 5 weeks now. Newlie is a male pure bred black and tan German Shepherd, very beautiful and smart and loving. We were told that he was found wandering as a stray with a shock collar on and ended up in a high-kill shelter. A rescue group pulled him out at the last minute and they had him for about a month when we adopted him. The posting on Petfinder said that he was between 3-4 years old, but my vet thought he was younger than that. The rescue group said that they thought he might have been used as a breeder dog although they didn't say why they thought that. He was neutered when he was with the rescue group.

I have tried to make sure he was getting enough exercise as it soon became apparent that he would get into mischief without it. I take him for walks and hit endless tennis balls out in the yard for him to chase. I have been taking him to an obedience class every Wednesday and the trainer there says she thinks he is more like 18 months old as his teeth are so clean. I have also enrolled him in several doggie day cares to try to burn off some of his energy while I am at work.

Newliw had gone to one day care 4 or 5 times without incident. As a matter of fact, they were at great pains to tell me what a great dog he was. However, he went several times to the other day care, and then twice, once last Wednesday and then again today, he nipped another dog. One was a male dog and the other a female, neither as big as he is, but not small dogs either. He did not break the skin either time, but I am very concerned and don't quite know what to make of this. Both incidents happeded at the end of the afternoon after he had been playing outside all day, both times with the dog he later nipped. The first time, the day care thought he got too excited when everybody was coming in at the end of the day to pick up their pets. The owner took hold of his collar to keep him from going out the door with other dogs and he nipped the male dog. That night, at obedience class, he growled for the first time at one of the other dogs, but stopped when the trainer corrected him and I told him to knock it off.Today, the day care said all the dogs were calm and a female dog walked past him and he nipped her.

I mentioned the first incident at day care to my vet when I saw him on Saturday. He is going to call with a recommendation of a good trainer for Newlie. Several other people are also looking around for me. I have not yet seen any aggressive behavior toward any human beings. Newlie knows basic commands, sit down, wait, drop it, touch, etc and I try to work with him every night and have taught him several little tricks. He did take my wrist in his mouth just once but did not close his mouth so I barely felt his teeth. However, I was stern and told him "No" and it hasn't happened since. He sometimes will try to "argue" with me, for lack of a better word, sort of like a mouthy teenager.

I guess I am still trying to figure out why he has started nipping other dog. He gets more exercise at the one day care than the other, but there is also no rest period where they can go nap and be by themselves for a bit. Could it just be that he is tired and irritable? I know that he has a yeast build-up in his left ear, the vet cleaned some of it out and gave me some medicine. You can tell it is painful when you try to put the medicine in so that might be a contributing factor. The trainer at obedience class said it might be hormones. Needless to say, Newlie won't be going back to day care until we get this figured out.

I would appreciate any insights or advice that anyone has. I am sorry this is so long, I just kept thinking of things I ought to add.
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You sound like a good dog owner and I congratulate you for being pro-active and not waiting till the problem is out of control. I don't have any advice, but perhaps Newli is over stimulated and doesn't need daycare while you are at work? Maybe he would be better off given down time at home? Just my thoughts, but I'm sure the more experienced GSD folks will have more ideas.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I expect a trainer will be able to help. Also, why not take him back to the first day care, where he behaved so well. It's possible the second place doesn't allow him any down time to relax. He may become irritible when he needs rest.

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Old 02-16-2013, 12:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Nipping during play could be prey drive and herding behavior rather than aggression. He may also have poor social skills and not know how to act appropriately with other dogs. In any case, I would take him out of daycare because it's not behavior you want him to continue practicing, and that's a highly stimulating environment that seems to bring it on. Mental exercise can be as tiring as physical exercise, so don't just work his body, work his brain. Training is perfect for that.

Also, rather than just exercising the heck out of him to burn off excess energy you could also try working on impulse control and teaching him how to hang out and chill. I personally think too much stimulation can actually backfire. Since I work for a living and can't give my dog hours and hours of exercise every day it's important that they are able to relax and be calm around the house and even entertain themselves, even if they haven't done much to burn off energy. This is just behavior, that can be trained like any other behavior. Here's a book with specific exercises you can do:
Chill Out Fido!: How to Calm Your Dog (Dogwise Training Manual): Nan Kene Arthur: 9781929242634: Amazon.com: Books Chill Out Fido!: How to Calm Your Dog (Dogwise Training Manual): Nan Kene Arthur: 9781929242634: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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what Debbie said.
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