Help with Bonding! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Help with Bonding!

Hello! I need some help with bonding with my puppy. He's 8.5 months old now and I don't feel that bond with him. He is a pretty independent and confident puppy, which I am fine with and actually love about him....but wish he'd pay a little more attention to me! At home he's great. He plays with my family but will always follow me if I leave the room. He accompanies me to the bathroom - I make him wait outside most of the time and I can hear him sniffing at the door lol - and he even climbed into the car to "supervise" me while I was cleaning it out the other day.

Outside is a totally different story. I know a lot of this is growing up and he wants to explore, but he won't check back in with me and no matter how hard I try, he won't focus on me when we're out. On the training field he's great with awesome focus, but anywhere else I feel like I have to nag at him just to get him to sit (ugh!). It also feels like he could really care less where I am - for example, if I hand off his leash to someone and walk away...he'll watch me leave but then be like "meh" and not have a care in the world (came in handy when we took the CGC test, which he passed - Yay! - but it totally makes me feel like he doesn't love me or really care )

I believe part of the problem is most of our outdoor activities are spent with our "pack." Walks and socializing events with our friends, things like that. We rarely go do things on our own. We had done an Intro to AKC tracking class with a club here and he was an absolute natural at it (he usually always has his nose to the ground following one track or another on our walks) and want to try to practice a couple of times throughout the week. Are there any suggestions on other things to do? I live in West Palm Beach and there aren't many places for hikes or woods walks to do...anyone in WPB or South Florida have an suggestions?



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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 01:05 PM
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First off, if his personality is such that he's not going to be a mama or daddy's boy then it's just not going to be something he's into. I have a 6 mo girl who is stuck up my butt when we're at home but would much prefer to pay attention to a skittering leaf or a car half a mile away than dad when we're outside.
We have done a few levels of obedience and three months of classes. That's really helped her focus more on me when necessary. It's still a 'trained response', though... I don't think she'll ever naturally put me first on her 'things to pay attention to' list when we're not in the house.
You already identified one of the issues in your original post, too: you guys need alone time! Go for a walk with just your boy. Play games with just your boy. One-on-one will really strengthen the bond. It can hurt to leave other dogs at home, but they won't die without a jaunt to the park.

Side note, having a dog that relaxes when you leave him unaccompanied is actually a fantastic gift. Dogs that freak out, bark, lunge, pant, pace... they're not having a fun time. I'd much prefer a less-affectionate but stable dog than an anxious, borderline-SA dog myself.
And just remember, at the end of the day he does have an enormous amount of affection for you. He's just expressing it in a way that perhaps isn't as easy for you to see.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 01:22 PM
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I would suggest that you do more one on one time with him when outside. When you have more than 1 dog, sometimes they will bond with each other more than us, so it is important that you not only train them together, but also as individuals
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 01:25 PM
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My dog is not velcro. She likes to know where I am but doesn't feel the need to be glued to me or be in the same room as me all the time. Outside off leash she likes to explore but will time to time look up to check where I am. However, the checking becomes less frequent and further away as she grows. I'm ok with this as this is just how she is. Like what the other poster said, it has its benefits. She doesn't have any separation anxiety. She'd prefer I be home but if I leave she gets over it quickly. But I know she has bonded with me. She comes to me throughout the day for affection. If I ignore her for too long she comes and lick whatever part she can get passionately. When I pet her sometimes she gets so happy she would make this grunting noise, rub her face with her paws and stretch her body long and wiggle on her back.

From what you wrote, it sounds like it's more of a focus training issue rather than bonding. He just needs that 1:1 dog walk/training time with you to learn what he can or cannot do on walks. As for being ok with you handing him off to someone else, I think that is not necessarily a bad thing.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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I definitely love that he can relax when I'm not around. From an ego point of view, it sucks lol but from a practical point of view it's awesome cuz it means I never have to worry about him.

He's not usually a very affectionate dog, again, something I am okay with. We have our cuddle moments and then we both move on and it's fine. I guess we both have very similar personalities when it comes to that haha

When we're outside though his attention is on everyone and everything but me :-/ we will definitely do more things alone. The other dogs aren't actually mine, he's my only pup, they belong to our friends/training group so not too hard to have our own time without leaving anyone home ;-) anyone have any ideas, or examples, of things they do with their pup to build their bond? Any focus training tips are welcome as well!! He's not very food/toy - especially if there's something that's really interesting to him (mostly smells).


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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 03:50 PM
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My 5mo pup always wants to be next to me. It's annoying, but awesome, since he's so quiet and friendly, I can take him everywhere! He'll ALWAYS check back, even against other dogs - rabbits are a different issue.
On the negative side, even if he's in the other room or outside with my family, but without me, he will whine until he can get to me. He doesn't like to be left without me most of the time.

I would just suggest tiring him out before taking him out - a tired dog is an obedient dog.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer View Post
When we're outside though his attention is on everyone and everything but me :-/ we will definitely do more things alone. The other dogs aren't actually mine, he's my only pup, they belong to our friends/training group so not too hard to have our own time without leaving anyone home ;-) anyone have any ideas, or examples, of things they do with their pup to build their bond? Any focus training tips are welcome as well!! He's not very food/toy - especially if there's something that's really interesting to him (mostly smells).
My dog was like that when she was younger. She would love on everyone except me in public to the point that I felt weird... like does she felt stuck with me? When I pick her up after she's been boarded with my trainer for a few weeks, she was happy to see me but not to the point that made you feel special. It's more like "oh, you're here, great! ok, let me go sniff that grass now." I've now learned that when I train her more on a 1:1 basis she is MUCH more attentive to me now. It's like she enjoys being told what to do and made doing it. I definitely notice that after every walk (that I also use as opportunity to work on various things) she pays attention to what I say or do better afterwards. Also, always follow thru on everything you tell your dog to do. Don't let him just ignore you. Don't also repeat a command too many times before making them do it. When in public and you tell him to do something, and he doesn't do it, do not let it go or keep repeating it. Get him into doing it and correct him for not doing it. Otherwise, the dog will learn to not take you seriously.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2012, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeliya View Post
I would just suggest tiring him out before taking him out - a tired dog is an obedient dog.
In Rainer's case, a tired dog is a "leave me alone, I'm resting..why in the world are you bothering me" dog! He's a character for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear L View Post
My dog was like that when she was younger. She would love on everyone except me in public to the point that I felt weird... like does she felt stuck with me? When I pick her up after she's been boarded with my trainer for a few weeks, she was happy to see me but not to the point that made you feel special. It's more like "oh, you're here, great! ok, let me go sniff that grass now." I've now learned that when I train her more on a 1:1 basis she is MUCH more attentive to me now. It's like she enjoys being told what to do and made doing it. I definitely notice that after every walk (that I also use as opportunity to work on various things) she pays attention to what I say or do better afterwards. Also, always follow thru on everything you tell your dog to do. Don't let him just ignore you. Don't also repeat a command too many times before making them do it. When in public and you tell him to do something, and he doesn't do it, do not let it go or keep repeating it. Get him into doing it and correct him for not doing it. Otherwise, the dog will learn to not take you seriously.
Thank you for all the advice I'll try to work with him and see how it goes!


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Rainer, CGC 11/21/11

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