Don't know what to do - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Don't know what to do

My 12 week old (tomorrow) pup has been having issues socializing with other dogs. From the minute I brought him home he was around my mother lab, my pug, my brother king cav, and a friend 9 year old GSD but on walks or if we r at a park or beach (actuallly sitting ath beach right now) if a dog walks up to us he starts barking at them defensivley and jumps back if they get close. Last night a boxer walked by our house and my pup got so scared he tried running back in the house when the boxer advanced a bit. I have been ignoring it thus far but I don't see him breaking out of this.

The 9 year old GSD he met for the first time last week but she was calm and collected. I know the dog so I was able to introduce them. I don't know how to handle random dog encounters.

Right now I'm on the beach and dogs r walking around and barking all over us and he's fine but earlier an unleashed dog came out of some vegetaion from beside us and scared the heck out of the pup. He was quick to get up and bark at the dog. The dog was friendly and I think Sawyer scared the poop out of him.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 11:16 AM
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Re: Don't know what to do

With my puppy when I let her meet other dogs I make sure they don't dominate her. She's such a good submissive puppy that she just lets other dogs walk all over her so I have to step in and stop that.
It seems to happen every single time I take her out. I let her sniff random friendly dog, other dog tries to dominate, the other owner does nothing about it, I correct the dog and protect her and we leave.
Could it be that your family's dogs are dominating him and he feels a need to defend himself by scaring them off?

Usually the signs are: Puppy having to lick inside the other dogs mouth, laying down, ears back, peeing, showing belly.
The other dog is usually constantly trying to hover over the puppy and putting his head above their shoulders. This is when I step in and correct the dominant dog.
Others might not agree, but I HATE it when people let their dogs dominate my puppy, it's so annoying.

Owned by Nini and McKinley.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Don't know what to do

Well, no haven't seen that. My moms lab, is scared of my pup. He's a big mush and when the pup barked at him he basically ran and hid. My brothers dog is young and they weren't together very long to witness any behavior. The GSD was older but not the dominating kind. Basically ignored the pup the whole time.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 11:35 AM
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Re: Don't know what to do

Maybe you need to build up his confidence around other dogs a little? Or redirect his attention to you when you see other dogs with yummy yummy treats. Like steak!

Owned by Nini and McKinley.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 11:52 AM
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Re: Don't know what to do

You can't ignore the behavior, because you're leaving him to find his own confidence, and as he grows, he will not rely on you for what he should do, he'll do what he thinks is best. Or he may grow even more scared and not develop any confidence. Either way, it'll grow more hassles for you as the owner.

Does he try to hide behind you or get away from you too? If he's hiding behind you, this is good, because you can bring him out and show him it's ok and that you're not setting him up to get attacked by another dog. If he's retreating away from you too, that means he doesn't think you can protect him.

When I first got Logan he had been bitten twice at the "breeders" and he had a fear of new dogs. When Ricca threw her feet at him in play he screamed and ran. He didn't know me yet, so he didn't run to me.

I took him for a lot of walks, and when he showed signs of flight when another dog was approaching, I would pull him into a close heel, have him sit, and I would wait and see what this other dog was about. I would go say high first, and then invite Logan in. Never allowing him to go first. Every experience was a positive one, and he got over his fears quickly. He was also unsure about new people, so I did the same there too. I would tell the person to baby talk him and invite him in while they crouched down, and Logan soon learned "all people are really nice!".

I don't let him think for himself about other dogs. If the dog doesn't seem like it'll be a positive experience, I keep him focused on me and we keep going. I turn his attention away from this other dog. If the dog seems ok, I meet first, then Logan can.

I didn't get him until he was 12 weeks old so he was already missing some key socializing. But with me taking control and introducing him to it and being his "back up"... he quickly learned that he could trust my judgement.

Now I have to hold him back from wanting to meet other dogs, because his confidence has grown so much.

You have to be confident, and use your dog sense about if a meeting is a good idea or not. You also have to display that you can protect him. If a dog is coming up off leash, place your pup behind your knees, and use confident body language to deter the strange dog from approaching. Your pup will watch all this and will see you as pack leader. Point your finger, put one leg forward, say "ssshhh!" or "get!" to keep the off leash dog at a distance. Your pup needs to feel safe with you, and that will build his confidence and loyalty.

Eventually he will try doing this on his own, don't allow that either. He's not the one in control, you are. When you see a dog attached to a human who's coming towards you, ask them from a distance how their dog is with puppies. You meet the dog first, that display will boost your pups confidence.

When no dogs are approaching, he's to ignore them. Take some treats, practice "sit", "down", and things like that to keep his attention on you. When he surprised, like when the dog came out of the brush, pull him to you and make him sit and watch quietly. No barking, don't baby talk him about how it's ok, just distract him from what just happened because it's not worth panicing over. When he barks, tap the leash, say "No barking!"... no "Ssshhh baby it's ok" None of that.

Baby talking them through a situation feeds the negative behavior. Ignoring it and not stopping it feeds insecurities and makes for a dog that isn't easily distracted and it inhibits training.

Aga Vom Kleinen Hölzchen aka Ricca
Logan aka "Logi-Bear"
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 12:48 PM
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Re: Don't know what to do

Socializing a puppy to as many different situations as possible is a good thing. The balancing act that we humans have is in finding these new situations, but making sure that our puppy isn't being put in harms way while doing it.

With your puppy, taking him places where he might be exposed to a rude or aggressive dog could easily do nothing more than convince him that he was right to be worried in the first place. A beach with a lot of other dogs, some off leash, might not be the best place for him at this point. But, on the other hand, only having him around dogs that he can bark at and make go away (like your Mom's Lab) isn't a good idea either.

Have you taken any puppy classes with him? I would sign up for one right away, if you haven't. A good puppy class is mostly about the socialization, with information covered on how to deal with puppy behavior or bumps in the road with housebreaking, crate training, etc.
Since you don't feel like you have the skills to know how to handle the random dog encounters, I would also find a good behaviorist/trainer that can go out with you 1:1 and teach you and your puppy how to handle the puppy's fearfulness.

It is really, really important that the behavior is handled appropriately now. Because if it isn't done correctly now, it will only get worse. The general public might snicker a little at a 12 week old puppy barking at their dogs, but it won't be a snicker when your dog is a year old and still doing it. Putting the effort and money into working with a professional to deal with this now could potentially save your dog's life later.

Good luck! You can do this! And think of how much quality bonding time you're going to spend with him, training and working on this with him.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 12:51 PM
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Re: Don't know what to do

Has your pup always been like this or is it new?

Puppies go through several fear periods where something that they had no problems with before suddenly becomes a scary thing.

The best thing to do is not FORCE him to meet other dogs but also don't make a big deal out of his fearful reactions. Talk in a very happy, upbeat voice and offer lots of yummy treats.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Don't know what to do

Hhmm, I don't think he was always like this he was actually very brave if I can recall. I think it's because I did more socialization with people than with dogs because of the whole vac thing. He's getting his second set of shots tomorrow. I don't know many people with dogs so it's hard for me to socialize him with dogs. He does much better with people than with dogs.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-25-2009, 07:23 PM
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Re: Don't know what to do

As someone mentioned, our pups do thru fear stages and act weird some days and normal the next. How WE react and have prepared the pup prior to these stages can make all the difference.]

While I know about the vaccination thing, and do use common sense to not toss my puppy into a dog park when they aren't fully vaccinated, I know I still HAVE to expose them. Puppy classes are great if you find them. And even just having dogs in the area, not necessarily in your pups face, is a good thing. So just going downtown and sitting on a bench for 30 minutes or so may help alot.


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"Nothing new can come into your life unless you are grateful for what you already have. ~ "--- Michael Bernhard, gratitude
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