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critterlady 03-20-2014 10:00 AM

Unsure
 
My GSD, Zeus, will 12 weeks old this Saturday, I brought him home quite early, 5 weeks old, he was living in very bad conditions and I thought I was rescuing him, now I'm not sure I did the right thing. I have religiously followed training techniques from a german shepherd training guide I got from a GSD group, for the most part they are working quite well, he sits, lays down, doesn't jump up on people and is doing very well with his leash training, the problem I am having is he sometimes shows aggression, sometimes if I have to pick him up he growls and even tries to snap at me, when he does this I give a low, almost growl like, "ah ah", this is what the training guide said should be done, he has even started this growling when I try to pet him sometimes. The other thing that worries me is that he seems to act like a loner, he sleeps behind our recliner or in his kennel, sometimes when we attempt to pet him he walks away like he wants nothing to do with us, is this normal for his age or am I right to be worried? I'm wondering if I need to change something I'm doing. Thanks in advance for any help!

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martemchik 03-20-2014 10:26 AM

The "loner" thing...probably just his personality. My boy was never really a cuddler either. He clearly doesn't "love" getting pet although he'll stand around and let you do it because he knows you want to. He consistently sleeps either on the other side of the room from the rest of us, or even in a different room.

The growling is probably just play. I wouldn't consider that aggression at this age. Lots of puppies, especially with stronger personalities, don't like being picked up. So he's letting you know that. He doesn't know a different way of saying "I don't like this" so its growling and biting at this point. You just have to teach him that its not acceptable.

I'll tell you that I have a very stable boy, he's extremely aloof, just doesn't like a lot of human contact. He'll greet us like a normal dog and then calms down quickly and goes to get a toy to play with. He knows that our interactions are based around a toy so that's what he does. He's a therapy dog and we go to schools and nursing homes monthly for him to entertain people. He's completely safe in crowds and is much easier to handle than dogs that want to say hello to every single person that walks by. He just does his own thing...

I wouldn't worry about these small things at this age.

Shade 03-20-2014 10:29 AM

I don't mean to sound rude but how FUN are you to him? While obedience and manners foundations can be started from day 1 it's just as important to build and nurture a bond. Do he have favourite toys, favourite treats, favourite games to play that you only bring out when you're around and sharing with him?

Some puppies see all training as fun, but most see it as just plain ol' work and 'what's in it for me' mentalities. YOU need to show him that you are the true centre of the universe and bringer of ALL good things - food, attention, toys - all of these come from your hand alone.

Start hand feeding him all meals for a few days, at all times have treats and a toy in your pocket to reward him if he gives you eye contact or a behaviour you like. The more he sees you as being the best thing in his life the more he will want to spend time around you. Be upbeat and cheerful around him and ready to praise at a moments notice

He doesn't have to be a huge cuddler right off the bat, Delgado didn't start asking for affection until he was around 1 year old. But when he picked up a toy he immediately brought it to me for me to join him in play - it may take a while but the effort you put in will be worth it in the end.

critterlady 03-20-2014 10:40 AM

I make sure to set aside play time, I also make sure to randomly play with him during the day, I am the only one home with him during the day, in the afternoon my 6 & 7 year old sons and my husband come home. I also have an 8 month old male chihuahua, Zeus loves to play with him in the mornings. I try to be fun with Zeus, he's not going to be a working dog, we got him as a family pet and I was hoping he would grow and bond with my boys as well.

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Jakesworld 03-20-2014 12:09 PM

You said he came from very bad conditions, but didn't elaborate. Could it be possible he may have an injury that maybe still bothers him when you pick him up? Taking him home so young didn't really allow enough time to learn from his mother or interact with his sibblings. I, also had to pick up my first gsd at 6 weeks, he turned out to be an awesome dog, but he did have a thing for sucking on his teddy. My GSD now, Jake, wasn't a cuddler the first bit after bringing him home ( at 9 weeks), but now at 8 months, he likes to be a big couch potato and lay on your lap. Give him time. Leash walking's a good way to bond. He might just be a little fearful too.

critterlady 03-20-2014 12:40 PM

The conditions were very poor, dirty, filthy would be more like it, there was urine and feces everywhere in his area, layers of old soiled news paper, he was fully weened, the mother had already dried up and wouldn't have anything to do with him or his litter mates, it was a tough choice for me to take him so early, but I couldn't stand seeing him in the horrible conditions. He has had a vet check and has checked out ok, no injuries. I'm hoping this is just a phase, one minute he wants to be petted and loved, the next he wants to be left alone. As much as I hate to admit this, he came from the home of a family member, my brother-in-law also took one of the puppies a week after I did and I would puppy sit her during the day so he had some interaction with one of his litter mates. Thankfully the family member has agreed to not allow her dog to have anymore puppies and is going to have her spayed. I've read as many articles and books as I can find, I'm a book worm, and am trying my very best to make sure Zeus gets as much socialization as I can give him and to make sure he gets proper training. I'm just worried I made a mistake taking him so early.

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martemchik 03-20-2014 01:34 PM

The dog will bond, trust me. I have a great bond with mine. It's just his personality, he doesn't need to be on you or near you every moment of his life. If I call him, he's there. If we're out and about and he's off leash...he doesn't go very far away from me. I have a female that is all about cuddling, she'll lay on the couch with you and would sit in your lap all day long if you let her.

I would focus less on where he came from and what he "could" be. You have no idea what his genetics are and he could end up just fine. If you're reading all his signs from an already biased POV that he's been "messed up" you're going to see a lot of the things he does as issues and want to fix them when in reality he's probably just fine and the problem doesn't need to be fixed. Books, other people, will tell you to be proactive and that your dog will end up being a mess because of where he came from, but they don't know if he will or won't they just expect things to end bad and when your first reaction is to judge something he does as "wrong" you'll always be biased towards thinking whatever he's doing isn't normal.

critterlady 03-20-2014 02:10 PM

His mother is a good dog, she is untrained, but otherwise good, she's protective of her family, but trying to get her to sit or stop jumping on you is a joke, she's very loveable, I'm not really worried about genetics, I was more worried that I had "messed him up" by bringing him home too early. My Zeus is already better behaved at 12 weeks than his adult mother is, I take that as a good sign. I want him to be happy, healthy and well behaved, I'm already very proud of him, everyone in our family sees how well I've done with him and are amazed at how good he is for his age.

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Stosh 03-20-2014 03:40 PM

You might read some articles about raising an 'only' pup since he was taken away from litter mates at a young age. There are also lots of articles and dvds about relationship games you can play to work on your bond. And like others have said, it may just be his personality. Our last female was very bonded but aloof. Remember, he's just a baby!!!

Jakesworld 03-20-2014 04:04 PM

The young pup I got at 6 weeks was Judaea, back in '88. He was my first GSD. After raising Collies growing up. Quite a change. Judaea's mother too stopped nursing at 5 weeks. The pups were big and rough. They all had scabs on their necks from playing so rough. Anyway, he and I were so tight. He went with me almost everywhere. Turned out to be a truly extraordinary family member. I don't think him coming home early had any negative effect on him. There were other dogs to play with and learn from. I talked to him a lot, I swear he understood. So smart. So don't be hard on yourself , sounds like he'll be healthier with you. No worries, just enjoy him. Get him a teddy bear :)


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