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Old 12-15-2012, 06:48 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jessac View Post
I'm just curious, but how will a pup assert dominance at that age? Like, what does it look like at that age compared to a regular crazy puppy? I've had people tell me my 12 week old pup might be trying to assert dominance, but I know he's quite submissive. People just don't understand gsds can be a little sharky, esp compared to toy breeds...

I don't really have concerns about my dog, just would like the info, esp so I can explain it to others when they say how aggressive my pup is.
A couple of websites classify the dates differently, but this period is called the seniority classification period, where the puppy tries to determine its social status in the pack.

Developmental Stages

If a puppy wants to be the Alpha of the pack (and bear in mind, most dogs are happy to be subservient) it is in the Seniority classification period (again this website says its between 10-16 weeks, I have heard other periods).

Here is a good website to spot dominant dog behaviours

Recognizing Dominant Behaviors in Dogs

What is also good to remember is that GSD's are bred for work. This means that to be good at their work, they must display some degree of confidence (for example in Shutzhund). This can often translate into dominance, however I 100% believe that you can have a confident dog that is submissive to its owner, so a lot of the things on that list would NOT be classed as negative for a working dog, for example carrying themselves with a proud gait.
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Old 12-15-2012, 02:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Here is a good website to spot dominant dog behaviours

Recognizing Dominant Behaviors in Dogs
Not sure I agree with all of that - most if not all of those can be explained by things that have nothing to do with dominance:

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Below are some common behaviors dogs display when they believe they are above humans. Keep in mind that a dog does not have to display all of these behaviors to be in a dominant frame of mind. Sometimes an alpha dog will only display a few of the behaviors at random times, depending on what the dog decides it feels like doing at any given moment. Smarter dogs tend to challenge the pack order more than dogs of average or below-average intelligence.

Stubborn - OR, a dog that doesn't fully understand what's expected of them (has the command been fully generalized?)

Headstrong and willful - see above

Demanding - Could also be because such behavior has been inadvertently reinforced in the past

Pushy - see above

Begging - see above

Pushing a toy into you or pawing in order to get you to play with them - see above

Nudging you to be petted - see above

Sitting in high places, looking down on everything - OR, maybe the couch is more comfortable than the floor

Guarding a human from others approaching. People like to call it “protecting” but it's actually “claiming”—dog owns you. - Resource guarding can come from lack of confidence, it's not necessarily an "alpha" behavior

Barking or whining at humans which many owners consider "talking" (without a command to do so). - Again, could have been inadvertently reinforced in the past

High-pitched screams in protest of something dog does not wish to do. - OR it could be a leadership and/or training issue, lack of clear and consistent expectations of the dog, leading to frustration

Jumping or putting their paws on humans (without a command to do so). - OR it could be lack of training, and/or behavior being inadvertently reinforced in the past

Persistence about being on a particular piece of furniture when asked to stay off (dog owns it) - see above

Persistence about going in and out of doorways before humans - OR the dog has never been trained to wait at doorways

Persistence about walking in front of humans while on a lead - OR the dog may have not been trained to walk properly on leash

Persistence about getting through the doorway first - Already mentioned

Refusing to walk on a lead (excludes untrained puppies, dogs with injuries or illnesses) - Assumes that only puppies have been untrained to walk nicely on leash without pulling

Nipping at people's heels when they are leaving (dog did not give permission to leave) - Could be many reasons for nipping that have nothing to do with not giving permission to leave

Not listening to known commands - OR the commands have not been fully generalized and proofed to all situations, and as such are not quite as "known" as we may assume

Dislikes people touching their food - OR it could be a training issue, resource guarding either caused by the owner or not prevented with proactive training

Standing proud on a human lap - ??? If I sit on the floor my dogs will come over and either stand near/on me or sit near/on me because they know they're going to get some love!

Persistence about being on top, be it a lap or stepping on your foot - I think WAY too much is made of this

Persistence about where they sleep, i.e. on your pillow - It's soft and comfy and it smells like YOU!

Annoyance if disturbed while sleeping - There could be any number of reasons for this, none of which have anything to do with dominance

Likes to sleep on top of their humans - See above about dogs liking being close to their people

Licking (giving kisses) in a determined and focused manner - Both my dogs are huge lickers, and neither of them are particularly dominant. Assertive, bossy and determined, yes, but not dominant. (Halo!!!)

Carrying themselves with a proud gait, head held high - My dogs do that when they're happy and pleased with themselves, like when they've got a toy they especially like. You should see Halo prance around with her flyball tug!

Not liking to be left alone and getting overly excited upon the human’s return (see Separation Anxiety in Dogs) - This especially is not dominant behavior. Dominant dogs are confident, not anxious.
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Old 12-15-2012, 02:31 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Wow, that dog dominance article is NOT something I would hold up as a paragon of current insight on dog behavior. Debbie covered it very well so I won't repeat, but suffice it to say MOST dogs don't want to be "in charge" and will happily become a good soldier in the presence of a fair and just leader.
To the OP, see if you can find a good puppy kindergarten class. This is a class meant to teach social and play behavior with a bit of manners thrown in, it is NOT your traditional beginners obedience class. That will come after in most cases.
If you will post where you are, or add your location to your profile then you might get some others local to you who can steer you toward a good trainer or school.
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Old 12-15-2012, 03:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I agree with a lot of what everyone is saying.

Your puppy is not dominant nor is he being defiant. He missed critical development with his mother and littermates. It is not easy, nor is it right, to raise a puppy on it's own younger than 8 weeks. You have your work cut out for you.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Yea, I have a 10 week old girl that I got at just short of 8 weeks. She LOVES people, and can be such a joy, but she is definitely a little landshark, and HATES being told no. When I tell her no, she usually gives a little bark/growl and goes after whatever it is she wants, or me, if I happen to be in her way (and I have lots of little war wounds to prove it). She's part of a working line pedigree, so I expected the mouthiness, and I'm not too worried about her being aggressive because all schutzhund competition dogs have to be tested for obedience and temperament (which all in her line were competition dogs). I am somewhat relieved, however, that someone else is going through this as well. For the first week, I thought I'd brought home the "wrong" dog. It'll probably get worse before it gets better...just have to be consistent, and give him LOTS of outlets for his energy! A worn out puppy is a well-behaved puppy. Haha.
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