Incident with a small dog yesterday. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 10:49 AM Thread Starter
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Incident with a small dog yesterday.

Hi all, really hoping to get some insight from some other Shepherd owners in this. Background info - Boone is a 13 month old male, altered (about two months ago), GSD. Boone has done both a basic and intermediate class, plus a private class to focus on his leash reactivity. His leash reactivity has improved and he can walk past dogs who are not reactive, but when we walk past reactive dogs he looses his crap. We're working on that, but honestly I really think I'm going to need something besides his prong and my air can that I use (it's like a pet corrector, it just blows out air and makes a loud 'whoosh' noise...not like an air horn or anything).

Yesterday, my husband had Boone out in the front yard off leash. Boone's recall is actually very solid, but our neighbors love to let their dogs run loose. Their dogs very rarely ever come down our private road, so I honestly forget about them unless I happen to leave and pass the neighbor's house and see the dogs out. We live on the same road, but their road branches off to my private drive way.

Anyway, apparently the neighbor's smaller dog came into our yard and Boone saw it, his hair went straight up and he went to approach it, and the small dog ran. This all happened in like, two seconds, before I could even think. Boone immediately bolted and grabbed the small dog, shook it and the poor dog was just screaming. I called Boone and he dropped the dog and ran to me, and my husband took Boone while I went to the small dog. it was screaming and I had the worst feeling in the entire world that I just watched my dog kill another dog. Thank God I went to pick up the small dog and he was fine, just a lot of slobber on him and obviously scared. No puncture wounds or blood. The most annoying part was how the neighbors and their friends all saw the entire thing happen (they were standing at the top of my drive way) and watched me go pick their dog up and carry it to them and then they were all laughing and asked "is he alright?" I handed him over and showed that there wasn't any wounds and offered to drive him to the vet and they just sort of laughed and were like "he likes to go explore sometimes" or something along those lines.

But now I'm just so freaked out about my own dog. Boone has always played rough, even as a small puppy he had a very domineering personality. That's why we socialized him extensively with many different dogs, and did obedience classes. It's just really frustrating because I've never put so much work into any dog like I have Boone, and he still acts like this. What am i doing wrong? Where did this aggression stem from? he's from a top notch breeder, I made sure of that because I didn't want to risk getting a dog from poor breeding. He's been socialized and as soon as he started the leash aggression we went to our trainer again for guidance. But the dog is just an bleep hole when he sees other dogs off leash or on leash that he doesn't know. I foster dogs as well and he does really great with them when I introduce them. I have two foster puppies now that he does great with (always supervised of course). But I cannot get the image of him shaking that little dog out of my head.

This is more of a venting post, but any tips/your experiences/guidance would be appreciated. I just cannot believe my always so sweet at home boy can be such a night mare when meeting dogs outside.
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 02:36 PM
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The first thing you need to understand is that shepherds are notoriously territorial, and I’m not surprised at all at his reaction to a loose dog coming in to his territory. Second, prey drive is a real thing, and again, GSD’s are notorious for this as well.

Your dog protected his territory, and his family, from a perceived threat. Not only that, but he listened to you when you gave a release command. That’s awesome. I would be concerned if he wasn’t able to be called off the other dog.

I’ve mentioned in another post recently that my GSD was on a lead in my front yard, while I was doing some gardening. Three small dogs came running into our front yard yapping their little yappers off. A black pug charged my GSD, and my GSD grabbed the pug by the haunches, and began the death shake. I gave her the “drop it” command, followed quickly by the “leave it” command, and that’s exactly what she did. The three dogs then ran off, the pug crying and screaming. I didn’t look for the owner of the dogs, I didn’t care. That may sound harsh and make me seem like a crap person, but I manage my dogs. If my dogs got out and got injured, that’s on me, not the person that owned the other dog.

Your dog wasn’t in the wrong, and the people’s reaction to watching the whole thing and not caring one bit just proves it’s likely to happen again and again. They think it’s no big deal, they have little dog syndrome, and let them run loose because they don’t care!

I wouldn’t look at your GSD in a negative light, he did his job, and did it well. He’s not going to turn into some hungry beast and start going after kids and other pets in the home.

As for the reactivity on walks, that is an issue that I would address, but I wouldn’t worry about him protecting his own yard and family.

I’m sure you’ll get a lot of different advice here, and I may be in the minority on this one, but that is what is so great about this forum, you’ll get a lot of varying advice, and you can learn which fits your style and what’s best for your specific situation.

Lots of luck, and keep working with a trainer on the leash issues.
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 03:49 PM
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I would be shaken too.
That sequence - the chase, the grab, and the shake - is very familiar to me because it's what my dog does with his toys if I make them run around on a string. I think it's what he would like to do (but is not allowed to) to the bunnies and cats that we pass when out walking, and maybe even the smaller deer. So you are definitely seeing the prey drive at work.

However I think he should be able to tell the difference between prey and another dog?

Was it aggression? I don't know. If it was aggression, they can easily puncture/kill a smaller dog, but the dog was unharmed.

I also think it's great that your dog desisted on command. All those classes paid off!

Anyway I think your neighbors' reactions were so strange! They should have been concerned that their dog actually ran into another person's yard and that they found him being shaken in the jaws of a large GSD...?! My experience with small dog owners is that they are always very yelling and anxious if their dog runs across the street towards mine. (For some reason, more small dog owners leave them loose in the front yard...we don't encounter loose labs and pitbulls and retrievers, but we DO encounter a lot of these loose front yard chihuahuas, terriers, etc)

I really hope it doesn't happen again. I might have a talk with them and tell them you're worried that your dog may actually hurt theirs if it runs into your property again.
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 03:52 PM
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I agree. Your dog really did nothing wrong. I keep my dog in a fenced yard normally. She is a born hunter. She grabbed a cat one day that had gotten over my 6 foot fence. She let go and left it be when I asked but I didn't bother going to check if it was ok, or go look for it's owners. It wasn't my problem. If my dog had sustained any injuries I would have gone looking for them.
If your dog killed a squirrel would you care? Invaders to the property sometimes meet with aggression, it's what dogs do. Your neighbors are responsible for keeping their pets safe. As long as your dog is on your property I would not worry.
Don't get me wrong, I neither encourage nor condone pet dogs attacking other animals. I do however understand that they are dogs and dogs dislike invasions on their turf. It's an instinct that many domestic dogs have retained. Packs have territories and they defend them.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:05 PM
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Fences aren't just to keep your dog in

We had a dog run thru the horse pasture. I had the "pleasure" of watching in terror as my 15h quarter horse tried to run the dog down to stomp it. The response was "he'll stay out when he gets stepped on". Okay...yeah. I guess he will stay out after he's stomped to death.
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:11 PM
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Can you fence part of your property so that you can let your dog out and not worry about the neighbor's loose dogs running on your property? I love our fence. It's some of the best money I've ever spent!

It's a good thing your dog had a strong recall, and that he had enough bite inhibition not to hurt the other dog.The neighbors were certainly in the wrong, but I'm sure it was still very upsetting for you and them to witness.

I have had a dog-reactive GSD in the past, and with the help of a trainer, it did get much better, but it was still something that had to be managed. When I took him out, I tended to avoid places where I suspected there would be unleashed dogs or large numbers of dogs, I didn't let him off leash around other dogs, and he stayed in our fence. I wouldn't panic about what happened, but now that you know what he's capable of, I'd just be more careful in the future.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jax08 View Post
Fences aren't just to keep your dog in

We had a dog run thru the horse pasture. I had the "pleasure" of watching in terror as my 15h quarter horse tried to run the dog down to stomp it. The response was "he'll stay out when he gets stepped on". Okay...yeah. I guess he will stay out after he's stomped to death.

I love that response. I get a similar one when I list the reasons Shadow stays leashed.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. Our back yard is actually fenced in, but husband was doing some yard work in the front yard, so was letting Boone hang out with us in the front.
However I think he should be able to tell the difference between prey and another dog?

THAT is what I was so shaken about, thank you for giving me a sentence to put it in. When I wrote this, I was still pretty emotional. I guess that my fear is because how reactive he is with dogs on leash (he's improved, but still reactive) that this behavior is a product of that. That he deems the greenways we walk as "his" territory and that's why he gets so reactive with other dogs, so now he's thinking, it's okay to attack another dog if it's on something I deem "mine."
I'm concerned that it wasn't just protecting his yard so much as "There's a dog I don't know, it's small, and I'm going for it!" I don't know how his reaction would have been had it been a larger dog. But he is not the kind of dog to back down from any challenge from a dog.

I am relieved that he didn't puncture the dog. It did have a harness on, I forgot to add that in my original post. So maybe he just had a hold of the harness and that's what saved the small dog from being hurt, I'm not sure. But it would be nice to know if he had the sense not to really bite that hard...
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:21 PM
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I hate irresponsible neighbors. We live in the country and still have pin heads that let their dogs roam too and we have horses and 3 GSDs that are off leash with us sometimes. Tell them to keep their dog off your property - I wouldn't have been as nice as you. Depending on where you live you can dispatch a dog that's chasing your livestock (not that I'd want to). Your dog did nothing wrong. He was on his property protecting his property. I hope the little dog has learned a lesson to stay away.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:55 PM
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I just reread what I posted. Just wanted to clarify a little. I don’t agree with dog on dog aggression either. Which is why I stopped using headphones while walking my GSD, because she would do the same thing is a dog ran up behind us, and I wasn’t prepared. I now walk her headphone free so I can give her the “behind me” command and handle the loose dog myself.

After my GSD did the death shake and drop, I didn’t reward or praise her except one good girl when she dropped the dog. I then proceeded to garden, so I didn’t make it a big deal to my GSD. If I had, it would have cemented as a big deal in her head, and that’s something I DON’T want her to have in her head. Same on the walks. Gave her the drop it command, leave it command, said good girl when she dropped the dog, and then we continued our walk like nothing ever happened.

Both my GSD and Husky/GSD have killed an uncountable amount of birds in our fenced in back yard. They have also killed a stray cat that made its way into our yard. And a skunk and possum that made its way to our chicken coup.

They don’t touch the chickens, they don’t touch our kids, they don’t touch any fosters we have come in. They are clear on what’s off limits, and what’s on limits, which would be anything coming into their territory.

Jax, I would love to fence our front yard, but we have regulations, and front fences are not allowed. It’s a treat for Lyka to come out front with me on her lead line, and I feel no guilt if a dog charges mine and gets put in their place. If a dog walks up, she does nothing. If they bark and charge her, she’s going to protect her territory and family.
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