Agressiveness while in a group - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 03-18-2014, 08:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Agressiveness while in a group

Hoping you all may have some advice...

Leo is just shy of 10 months old and already 85 pounds. Since we got him at 10 weeks he's been the most calm and gentle pup I've ever been around. We used to hear comments daily about how people thought he was an old dog who never grew into his body because they couldn't believe he was that calm of a pup at 6 months and younger.

Then at 8 months this changed. His demeanor is still gentle and loving but I would best describe him as a bumbly teenager with raging hormones. He has no clue how big he is, frequently trips over his 3.5 inch wide paws, jumps around like a little kid after eating a big piece of cake, and LOVES the ladies. He will follow a female dog around the park for hours, absolutely zoned in on her with a big doofy grin on his face; licking her face any time she stands still. This all is funny to me and doesn't bother me in the slightest. He's learning to be an adult dog and isn't neutered and so I am sure his hormones are running rampant like ours all were at some awkward point in our lives.

I've taken him to the dog park an average of 4 times a week since the first time he was cleared post-shots to go. He ADORES dogs and people. When playing with one dog alone he is the nicest pup you will ever see; in fact, he always plays more of a submissive role over any other type of role - frequently running under the legs of people nearby. If a dog gets aggressive with him, he runs away immediately to find a nicer dog to play with and then spends the rest of the time looking over his shoulder to ensure that he keeps his distance from the aggressive dog.

But when in a group? Here is where the problem lies...

If two or more dogs are happily playing together, he stops dead in his tracks, ZONES IN, and rushes to who he thinks is the most submissive dog, where he promptly chomps down on their neck. His larger than-life-tail waves madly and he has a big goofy grin on his face, which shows every time he pulls away. But the chomp is very aggressive. I know he's not out to hurt the dog and I can tell that he is in play mode. But with how big he's gotten so fast, and some people's pre-conceived notions of GSDs, this act usually ends up in an owner yelping and calling foul, which then makes this giant loppy puppy who has been playing nice all day seem like a vicious attack dog. When I separate him and make him "sitz", he stares at the submissive dog with a giant smile and a very focused and unbroken stare. Once this scenario play out even one time, it's time to go home because history shows that he is now obsessed with the more submissive dog and and will follow it around and continue his strange attack any time another dog gets near. On the very rare occasion that we actually stay and the submissive dog gets left alone by the others, Leo turns right back into his playful and submissive self.

Is my dog destined to be a gang member?!
Proud parents of our first GSD pup!
König Leupold v TeMar "Leo"
Born: May 25, 2013

Last edited by KönigLeupold; 03-18-2014 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I really don't do dog parks. I have enough that if I want my dogs to play together, I let them in the yard together. That works really good with two dogs that are compatible. Today I let three bitches out together.

Not randomly, I have let Karma out with Lassie and Lassie out with Hepsi, and Hepsi is two and really submissive. Karma and Lassie are both one. Mostly it went ok. But there is some ganging up, and it is the submissive one that seems to get targeted.

I think that you should leave before your dog chomps down on a submissive dog's neck. Because you say, that is over the top and aggressive. So if there are two dogs there, and you dog is doing fine, fine, but if a third dog comes, call your dog and go home.

Not all dogs are good at the dog park, and your boy is a teenager, intact, and has his hormones raging.
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Selzer, that's so funny that you commented because I was just reading a post about intact males and ran across/liked your comments about keeping the pups intact and remaining a responsible dog owner to prevent breeding. My boyfriend and I are debating leaving Leo intact but I am doing a lot of research.

I wish we had more pups so that we could stay in our decent yard and play - this weekend I tried to talk my boyfriend into a blind 3 year GSD female that I found on a rescue page, before hearing from her foster mom that she has aggressiveness issues and severe separation anxiety - which causes her to escape kennels and literally chew through doors. We currently rent a house and even though the landlords trust our dog and house keeping abilities, I worry that two dogs is just too much for now.

Thanks for the suggestion though to maybe just keep him away from the park. While I feel like it has done him so good up until now, maybe it's just too much for him until he grows up a bit. We also run in a really nice urban forest sometimes and that allows him free reign with only a few other dogs that we happen upon, individually, which is always a pleasant experience.
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König Leupold v TeMar "Leo"
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Old 03-19-2014, 01:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm sorry but your dog is pretty much a text book example of why many of us don't do dog parks. I would bet that many of the other clueless dog owners your dog has " Zoned in on" are now also looking for help to fix there dogs behavioral problems! Problems that got worse because they also went to a dog park and put there dogs at risk!

And four days at week?? That's great ,so every four days, your dog gets to practice beating up on other dogs and also practice out of control behavior while causing other clueless people problems!

How do you fix it? Give yourself your dog and other a break and quit taking this dog to the dog park!

None of my dogs have "ever" been "zoned in on" they have never been rolled ,attacked or harnessed by a dog they don't know ever! My dog gets rolled by a dog "I'd get that dog off them and I'd be in that dog owners face! So yeah..."My" dogs are not used as other dog owners chew toys.

What can you do? Give other people and there dogs a break and quit taking this dog to the dog park! Teach him to "ignore other dogs" which is going to be much harder for you now but this would be a start.:

If you want to be able to take this dog to a dog park do other ill informed dog owners a favor and seek the help off a professional. My two guys were both Dominate Males and I knew I would be putting other peoples dogs at risk I chose not to chase my guys pounding on someone else's dogs, that's what responsible people that "know" there dogs do!

And if more people read this then the targets for your dog would not tend to be the submissive dogs because none of them would be out there:

Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea

Sorry if that was kinda harsh but beating around the bush is not one of my strong suits.
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It's not so much that your response is harsh but that it's not helpful and I can only assume that you don't quite understand the situation. It seems like you are giving advice based on articles and posts you've read, not from actual experience.

I wrote that I have an extremely gentle pup who I've taken to dog parks from an early age, in order to socialize him and let him know that other dogs of all kinds are pretty cool! I recall reading Leerburg's article early on, but due to a general lack of dog availability in our social group, we chose to socialize him in this setting. I am so thankful we made that decision early on. He's been stellar and a shining example of a well socialized dog and never even one time have I been afraid that he will harm another animal or a human. However, as recent isolated incidents have resulted in behavior I want to correct, I've reached out for suggestions instead of ceasing to take him to one of his favorite places that has also been an excellent training tool. He's not mauling or harming other dogs and is just being too rough on specific occasions involving packs of dogs. In fact, one thing that I forgot to add is that he still comes when I recall him - I'm not and have never had to pull him off another dog. Nobody has ever had to pull him off their dog. This is definitely a sign in my eyes that he is a well behaved dog that's just going through a rough patch.

I'm wondering if it's a dog version of the age old but unfortunate human trait where people feel stronger in groups.

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König Leupold v TeMar "Leo"
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Your intact male is normal...they aren't dog park candidates and you are setting him up for trouble if you keep taking him there.
GSD's are not normally social butterflies and their play style is very rough compared to other breeds.
Instead of spending so much time at the dog park in such unstructured environment, get him into some classes and work his brain.
But you may have to teach him that approaching other dogs is a no-no, because many dogs don't appreciate it.
Socializing is NOT playing with other dogs, it is experiencing new things, scents, surfaces...
Don't set your dog up to fail.
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with Jane, Delgado played fine at the dog park until he got about 9 months old and started really feeling his oats as they say. He was intact and he lost his puppy license, other dogs started treating him aggressively and he started to play harshly back, I quit the park entirely and now he plays with dogs that I know only. GSD's are very rough players and not all dogs like their style

If he loves dogs like Delgado does then set up play dates, I take Delgado once a week to my parents to play with their labradoodle who is his best friend. They run and play for hours and that's all the doggie play he really needs, he'd love more but he doesn't need it.

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Jasmine - Female Miniature Poodle - born Aug 15, 2010
Loker Delgado Von Stalworth - Male GSD - born Jan 26, 2012
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Old 03-19-2014, 11:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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IME, being in the dog park when there's a pack of dogs there isn't the best time anyway, since this increases the odds of a fight breaking out with too many dogs cooped up in one tiny area. I met an owner of a pup that had a similar play style (read: neck chewer, lol) and we made play dates when it wasn't busy. This worked well, since nobody thought they were being "mean" when they were just playing in a normal-to-us way, lol.
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Old 03-19-2014, 12:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think that you are asking for trouble by taking your intact male to a dog park where multiple dogs are present. Even when your dog is a "gentle giant" he will react differently in a crowd (pack mode). A pack can kill a weaker (submissive) dog in a heart beat. How will you feel if your dog injures or kills another dog? will you love him the same?
You are saying that while he's holding another dog's neck, he is "smiling and is playful". That's too much of a personification to me. I know that dogs have facial expressions and do smile, are goofy at times, etc. But not when they are holding a stranger by the neck! A well- known dog, yes. It's a different story. My three females often play "I'll kill you" game. But you have to know all the dogs involved and their possible reactions. Please, take our advise to heart, we want the best for you and your dog...
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Old 03-19-2014, 12:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If you want to keep up with the dog park visits, stop going so often. When and if he goes after another dog in a group like you're describing, it's game over. Leash on, get in the car now, completely unacceptable.

To put it in human terms, he's just a teenage boy flexing and testing his limits.

You could also look into Herder Overlord theory and see if you think it applies.

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