Let me give the back story.
Right now I have a 9 month old German Shepherd female. In the beginning she did not have any issues with people or dogs. We went to a outdoor party with about 70 people when she was 7 months old and she was really good with people around her and loved them. There was a small white dog there who nipped her in the buttocks, and the owner ended up putting their dog away for the rest of the night in the house. Ever since that day I notice my GSD hasn't been so friendly around other people or dogs. I take her on car rides and now she barks at people who are outside. I'm inside my house and she barks at dogs/people who walk by. When she is just around people she is fine, she gets excited at first, but she calms down. When people come to my house, they can't get one foot in the door without her being right there/sometimes barking. After her first heat at 8 months, I noticed she has been becoming slightly aggressive. She won't met clean her ears with this cleaner, when I get close she grows and shows me her teeth. So I don't use it and just use my hands to clean them out (she lets me do it that way). I took her to the park to see people, animals and etc. She was great, until a dog snuck up from behind us, and her switch flipped. Her hair stood up, she barked uncontrollably and nipped me in the hand as I was pulling her away (I know she didn't mean to do it, she was trying to protect us). Also, she picks and chooses what dogs she wants to be nice to and not.
HELP HELP HELP:help:
By the way, I have someone coming over this weekend to help me out who use to be a K9 Officer for years and he specializes in behavioral issues. He says he can work it out of her, but I am just nervous. I love my little girl
Any advice? Has this ever happened to anyone?
And if that's been your mindset when you have seen ANY of this inappropriate behavior then chances are, that's why it's getting worse. If you'd been able to nip it in the bud the first milli sec you saw it she'd probably still be the wonderful pup you used to have.
An untrained 9 m old puppy has NO IDEA of real 'enemies' or friends. Dogs 'sneak' up behind my dogs ALL THE TIME and my dogs ignore them. Because it's in NO way agression from the other dogs, and in no way am I or my dog in danger of DEATH from that dog who came up behind to give a quick sniff.
So, since I know my pup has no idea of a true mass murderer vs. the plumber coming to fix my sink...........................................
My dog should be looking to me, learning from me, getting guidance from ME before any type of action occurs on their part. And if I am calm and behaving like it's ok... THEN IT IS!!!!!
You need to stop thinking your pup is 'protecting' you and realize they are being rude, or bullying, or fearful and reacting because you are NOT giving them the guidance/support and feeling of security they need. If they are having to constantly come to your aid cause the world is so chock full of HORRIFYING SCARY DOGS/PEOPLE then they have a right to get more and more afraid of everything!
We have to be their leaders. We have to control situations and guide them.
The reason many of us start dog classes at 6 months old is when they are maturing and going thru different stages in the first year we are being PROACTIVE in the leadership role to guide them thru new people/places/situations. Class is full of new people, new dogs, new places. We have 'homework' during the week and then return for more classes and help.
At this age, dogs have to begin to determine what is a threat and what is not... if you are not there to help them learn the difference, they have to make that decision themselves. A dog will not usually protect someone unless trained... she sounds like she was defending herself from what she viewed as a threat.
Our 6 month old was starting to display this behavior when we rescued him. LOTS of socialization, lots of people coming to the house... "leave it" was invaluable. He had to learn that it was NOT his situation to handle. I'm in charge and he should be looking to me to handle things.
Too bad for that incident. Thats why I am very wary of any strange dogs. Its surprising how many I meet that react to a bigger dog.
I just want to add to be careful whenever anyone says they can work reactivity out of a dog(especially old school trainers). I urge you to read about reactivity on the web and understand the best way to desensitize your puppy to other dogs and humans so you are well informed. The term is counter conditioning. If the trainer does this, its great!
I know from personal experience as well as talking to people and trainers that it takes a long while. Ours was(still is to a much lesser extent) reactive to dogs. It takes weeks of patience to work it out of them. But it is best done this way. For the longer story, we enrolled him in a class where they put up barriers to shield him from the other dogs in the class(he couldnt see them but he could smell and hear them) and I would train him there. As he reacted less over the weeks, the barriers came down and now even though he gets excited once in a while he listens to me and calms down pretty quickly. I also took him to the park and did obedience with him where he could see other dogs walking by at a distance, and used very high value treats. Then I built up to walking towards the dogs(still kept distance) and walking away.
You would do the same for people. Start at a distance, engage her attention, feed her around people, throw treats on the floor to keep her occupied and slowly build up to passing by on the other side of the road, etc... The idea is no pressure on the dog, but other dogs or people = where is my piece of chicken mom?
There are lots of videos and articles on the web.
How to stop lunging and barking- Train 'Let's Go!'- clicker dog training shy reactive dogs - YouTube
Understanding Thresholds: It's More than Under- or Over- | Suzanne Clothier
Some good books include Suzanne Clothier's Bones would rain from the sky
Patricia McCOnnell's The other end of the leash
Bringing Light to Shadow: A Dog Trainer's Diary: Pamela S. Dennison: 9781929242177: Amazon.com: Books
And ofcourse this is not to diss any trainer or their methods. It could very well work depending on the temperament of the dog. But for some dogs, having no pressure (as in the counter conditioning ) will help immensely.
Here is one more article. Some of these articles I have to read every once in a while to keep reminding myself.
Guidelines for Teaching Self Control | Suzanne Clothier
Be careful with the k9 officer. If your dog is ASL or GSL, or if she is a working line with a softer temperament, a person used to working with k9s might be the wrong person to work with your dog. Beware of any dominance, alpha-type discussions. It sounds like your dog is being fear-reactive, and what needs to happen is to build her confidence in you by improving your leadership (Google NILIF -- Nothing in Life is Free) and increase your training, build her confidence in herself -- trick training, agility training, positive fun stuff where you can set her up to succeed and then praise her for it, manage the environment to ensure she is out of harms way before she reacts to it, and then carefully and slowly start socializing her to stable dogs.
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