8.5 months and shoulder hackles - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-20-2012, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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8.5 months and shoulder hackles

Hmmmmm

Beau has been quite well socialized and has been very confident, but today on our walk his hackles just over his shoulder went up and he showed minor avoidance of our brash New Jersey neighbor...as a younger pup he was definitely quite social. My goal is not a social butterfly but the dog will need to tolerate advances of strange humans within reason.

I made him sit and have the guy give him some treats and the hackles went down and he was just fine and relaxed..... I gather a little avoidance, a little hackling, means a little fear and that is not so typical for he who has been so bold.

Actually though a few days ago the sprinkler head which he would normally have attacked...he was a bit hesitant to approach, though he was not trying to get away from it. He could not resist a treat placed on top of it though...and he startled when a motorcycle reved its engines but then was curious about it.

So, if I did not observe a 4-6 month fear period and has been overall bombproof, could he be having a little one now? There have been no immunizations since the puppy series. Nothing bad has happened. He is intact.

I figure maybe we don't put him in too many really stressful situations right now, reward him for boldness and curiousity and ignore an lingering doubt and don't give him a chance to react [divert him] should he show any signs of reactivity......plan? Remember, I have not raised many puppies

Nancy



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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-20-2012, 11:31 AM
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Jocoyn, Rocket is just slightly older, and he never really had any fear periods before, but the other day, we were walking down the road (that you HAVE to be on to get out of my house, so we've been down it a million times already) and there was some dirt and grass where a car had gotten stuck in the ditch, and he did the same thing! The only time his hackles have ever gone up was when we ran into the cougar. He slowed down and I just said "You silly! That's just grass and dirt!" and we approached and he sniffed, then his hackles went back down.

So I totally think they could be having a bit of one. I would guess it's a little like a kid, upon entering the teen world, suddenly realizing there are real dangers out there and understanding the ramifications, you know? It's not like they're afraid, it's more like they're maturing. Make sense?
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-20-2012, 11:42 AM
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Shoulder hackles with my boy confuse me because I think he does alot of his when he's excited.

For example:

He will sometimes show his when I take a RMB out of the freezer & he's clearly excited, will show them when he sees me coming up the sidewalk after work, when I take his leash off of the peg when we are going for a walk. He doesn't do this all the time but enough for me to notice.

Now I have also seen him do it out of fear, it's been sometime (he's almost two, intact).

There was this huge snowman these kids made & it was close to the street we were walking at night and upon approach his hackles went up, head down, eyes forward, cautious, then we approached, he sniffed it, then was fine, he was around 10 months.

Certain dogs, not all (tried to observe which ones or what they are doing that cause this reaction but I can't piece the puzzle together) his shoulder hackles will raise when we pass them, he doesn't bark, keeps the pace with me, keeps his head up but he does raise his shoulder hackles for a second.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-20-2012, 11:49 AM
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Dogs look for differences.
Temple Grandin's book was great for understanding how/why this is, but all the look at is detail so when something's "off" meaning "different" that's what they react to.

A dog barking at someone w/a cane for instance, or a weird hat. I delivered pizzas many years ago and dogs always hated me because I was carrying this big huge weird thing many had never seen before.

If grass/dirt is out of place, he's barking at it as it looks strange and he was not expecting that. He figured it would look today like it has always looked
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-20-2012, 12:00 PM
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I wouldn't read too much into this unless it continues to occur and gets worse.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 12:02 AM
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Yeah--boy dogs go through some funny phases as they mature. Not sure I'd say it's a "fear period" -- but they definitely go through some weirdness as they mature. Keep socializing and don't make a big deal out of it.

I usually see this increased environmental awareness and wariness around 8-10 months then again around 12-14 months, then again between 18-20 months. Usually it's not a reaction to *everything* just to a few select things. My old dog Ashen at 10 months had a problem with strangers sitting on benches--they were weird! Then on another trip, the motel trash can was obviously a danger. He grew up to have very good nerves, multiple schh3 titles, very balanced and strong temperament.

Christine

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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That is all reassuring to know. It is just quirkly - not extreme, not lunging or running away or anything like that. Actually this man is rather strange and *his* body language told me he was nervous about Beau, but he can't be nervous because he is a man........

So we will just keep things up and not worry yet. Right now, other than scent work, our big focus is on formal obedience and he is doing well with it...but he also has some of those blowing me off moments and does not seem to *register* when my frustration level rises. I have yet to see him with a submissive look about him. Poor Grim senses it and is like "did I do something wrong?".

At least through the years I have learned there is no place for loosing my cool and I have, several times, had to snag him by the collar and put him in his crate because I needed a time out.

I have not quite had a dog who is not intimidated when my frustration level starts to rise though.....actually I swear he seems to know he is pushing my buttons and has fun with it. Yesterday it was putting on the collar which he decided meant jumpting in my face and wrapping his paws around my arms and trying to grab the collar (at least he does not bite at me). Come on now, we know how to do this. I had to snare him with the lead, lead him to his crate and then go back and repeat in about 10 minutes. Third time was a charm and we put the collar on and off peacefully several times with much praise. I KNOW that putting on a collar is a simple puppy thing we have done and done and done, but....it took a lot of patience to not let him outside until we got it on, peacefully.

Nancy



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