4 month old way too reactive to dogs - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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4 month old way too reactive to dogs

Our 17 week old male GSD is very reactive to other dogs. He seems to be insecure around them. Until he had all his shots he only got to meet family and neighbor dogs, as well as our two other dogs (of course). He never had bad experiences with our dogs or other dogs. Our older GSD has reprimanded him for being a brat, but she has never hurt him. When he had his shots we started going to puppy play time at Petco. He avoids the bigger puppies and is even a little insecure around some of the dogs his own size. None of the other pups bug him too much when he wants to be left alone and after a while he comes out of his shell and plays with a couple other GSD pups that are his size. Occasionally he will play with a couple that are bigger.

We also started puppy class (not at petco) 2 weeks ago. He initially has the very deep insecure bark when we first get there which turns into the higher pitched "I want to play" bark. After a while he calms down and has excellent focus. He is also very reactive to other dogs on walks. He goes nuts! He uses the very deep and insecure bark. We don't have a lot of dog traffic in our area, so today I drove to a more populated area where there are lots of people walking their dogs. Again, very reactive to every dog. I have been distracting him and every time he looks at me and not the dog, I mark it with a "yes" and treat. Is this the right thing to do? Should I be using any correction at this point, or all positive?

I love this dog. He is solid around people and kids. I take him to the nursing home where I work and he happily goes up to everyone in wheelchairs (even electric) and puts his head in their laps for a good petting. He is very smart and the easiest dog I have ever potty trained. We have also started Schutzhund training with a club and his breeder, which he does well at so far. It is just that he is very reactive and insecure around strange dogs.

Any suggestions? Am I right to take him as many places as I can where he will see dogs? How can I make him more confident? I don't want a full grown 85 lb dog that reacts this way.

Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 09:07 PM
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Marking it with an yes is good, but is he understanding what your are marking? Does he think he's being rewarded for barking at the dog or does he understand that being quiet is getting him the treat. I would think either the watch me or leave it command with a marked yes might be the way to go.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 09:09 PM
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Sounds like you are basically doing LAT with him. I would find how close you can get to the other dog without him reacting and just work on LAT. Look, he looks, looks back at you, Yes and treat.

I would not use a correction at this point. I do correct Jax if she lunges and barks first but she fully understands what I want from her and she's 4 years, not 4 months.




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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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I use "look" and only mark it when he stops barking and looks at me. He did get less reactive as our walk went on. It was easier to get him to look at me, but it is just frustrating. He seems too young to be so worked up over other dogs.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 09:42 PM
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It is frustrating but I think you are doing the right thing. The one thing my trainer told me is do not do LAT to a reactive dog. You want him looking at calm dogs. For a barking/lunging maniac, I tell Jax to Leave It and we keep walking. It has worked well for me so far.




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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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I like going up to this area. It is in southern Minneapolis. It is a nice, small lake with lots of people. I would say that 90% of the dogs that are walked in that area are very calm and non-reactive dogs, because they are so used to seeing dogs on a daily basis. I just wish it was closer. It is about a 20 min drive. We will try to make it up there a couple times a week to practice. I also need to work on staying calm. I know that I get frustrated and he feels it through the leash.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 10:10 PM
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She also told me....keep focused on your dog and don't worry about what every one else is thinking...which really helped me because i would get bent out of shape about what others must be thinking and then get frustrated with Jax.




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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 08:29 AM
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I am working on this too....Stella barks, lunges, growls and acts up whenever she sees another dog. In class she eventually settles down but walks are crazy. My son saw her doing this a few weeks ago and said she looks like she wants to kill someone! In truth she is really just amped up and wants to play. If the other dog comes over she runs between my legs! She also does this to skateboarders. I am going to try the Look at that I guess. I have tried to get her to look at me but haven't been too successful. Although this week in class she did really well with that. Even the trainer was pleasantly surprised at how well she did. So maybe it is just a matter of time. It sure would be nice to be able to walk quietly and calmly down the street!
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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How old is your Stella?

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 09:01 PM
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Stella is 8 months and 75+ lbs. I have tried the watch me command...leave it command....ignoring....turning the other way.... I really don't know what else to do.
I have a 9 yr old 120 lb newfie mix who used to do the same thing after being attacked when younger at a dog park. But he really did want to go after the other dog! He definitely did not back down. Age has mellowed him but I really don't want to wait for Stella to age before she calms down.... I prefer my arms to stay in their sockets!!!
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