5 MO female leash/fear aggression? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-05-2012, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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5 MO female leash/fear aggression?

Ok, I feel like throwing my hands up and giving up!

(I would like to preface this by saying, my pup is in daycare. My mom was caring for her during the work day, but she recently lost her battle with cancer, so that is no longer an option for me. With no daycare, my pup would be locked in her crate for 10 hours a day. I live in the country, so finding a dog walker is difficult)

I have my 5MO female. She is very friendly with people, but is over-reactive with other dogs.

It can go either way, she either wants to play to the point that she does her excited barking and pulling to get to other dogs, or the hackles are up and it's her big girl bark.

I know this is her challenge, so since I've had her, I've been taking her to flyball a couple days a week, we did a puppy socialization class, just completed Grade 1 (passed with flying colours) and I take her to schutzhund trials (to spectate) and she's in doggy daycare 5 days a week. I try to do all the things to establish myself as the pack leader, but maybe I'm not being successful? I feel like if she trusted me to handle it, she wouldn't react like this.

Other dogs have always been her problem, so I've been working really hard to make sure she spends lots of time with all kinds of dogs. Sometimes she's completely cool with other dogs and then some dogs seem to set her off.

This morning when I got to daycare she saw an Airedale and soon as she caught his/her scent, before she even saw him/her she was barking and the hackles were up. This dog didn't seem to be put off and actually came over to greet her in a friendly way. While they sniffed she was quiet, but then when the dog walked away she was back to barking.

This is a dog she hangs out with frequently with no problems, so I'm not sure what is up.

A couple of things are maybe changing for her and setting her off.

1) it was dark out and windy - I don't know if that puts dogs into a more alert state of mind?

2) usually when I get there, any other dogs are in the play area already, it just worked out today that we got there at the same time and this dog was in the pickup/drop off area when I got there, so that might have been unusual in her mind

3) I think she's starting to see the daycare as one of "her" places, like a second home? Maybe in her mind it's her territory? She barked at a painter that came in one time when I was dropping her off, like she thought he shouldn't be there. (He just walked right in, wasn't let in - which was fine with us, but maybe not in her mind?)

4) I was there (obviously) does she think she's guarding me?

5) Is she guarding herself?

6) she's getting to the point where I need to think about spaying her soon, could this be partly hormonal? Shes' always kind of been like this though, so I don't think that's it.

She's not got the strongest nerves of any GSD I've seen. I don't want to say she's weak nerved exactly, but she is more of a submissive type and sometimes is unsure about things so I think she tries to scare them off before they eat her or something.

How do I work through this with her? I've noticed that it's sometimes certain types of dogs that seem to bother her more, other GSD's seem to get to her, could it be a confidence/dominance thing that she's reading off them?

At obedience class she was completely fine with the other dogs around her. I can drop her leash and do sit/stays, down/stays etc and she's great. But another GSD owner took her big boy close to me and she barked at him. I'm not even sure if she thinks shes guarding me or what?

Is this a hopeless situation? I want her to feel ok around other dogs and I don't want to be afraid that it might escalate from "all bark, no bite" into a biter and have to hide her away.

I don't know how much more dog to dog socialization I can possibly do with her! I live in the country so it's hard. I grew up with Labs, we were utterly negligent on their socialization and they turned out so much better! I'm getting really frustrated, with her and with myself. I'm trying so hard with her, but I feel like I'm doing everything wrong.

What should I be dong to correct this? Should I be actively correcting her, should I walk her a different direction? (Hard to do when I'm running late for work as it is)

She's such a sweet girl otherwise, I want her to feel happy and relaxed.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-09-2012, 04:05 PM
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I'm a little confused (not abnormal, lol) is she only doing this while she's on lead? Or she's doing it both on and off lead? Have you talked to the trainer about this behavior? If so, what did he/she say about it? Are there trainers at the daycare, or is it just people without any formal training?

It sounds like it's all about fear. You say she's always been like this, though? Does she fear anything other than other dogs? Is she only submissive with you? This sounds like a good thread for Cliffson1 to get onto. You may want to PM him with specific questions or ask him to take a look at this thread. I've found his advice and knowledge both helpful and sound. (Not that there aren't others here that have good advice!)

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-09-2012, 04:45 PM
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I don't know if I really hear a problem being related as far as the dog is concerned. She sounds pretty typical to me given the information given. She's a pup and some unsure ness with dogs at first is to be expected. Let her grow up and I would do more structured training with her like obedience. This helps build the bond between you two increasing her compliance with your wishes.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-11-2012, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, I'd had a bad morning with her that day. LOL

I guess I'm just worried about how she'll turn out. She's my first GSD, I knew she would be a lot of work, but I didn't think some things would have been SO hard with her.

She is submissive with people, but very sweet and friendly. She can be a bit timid with some things initially, but I think that is normal puppy stuff. Once she figures it out, she's ok.

I think it's just leash aggression with other dogs, but if they approach, she will calm down (at least for the meet & greet, then bark again once they turn to leave). I'm not really sure how to correct this, she's really wonderful about most things, but this can be a problem when I try to take her out places that we might run into another dog. I don't know what it was about that dog at daycare that set her off. They get along fine off leash. My pup even got her hackles up one time at a stuffed toy dog at the pet store

cliffson, she's pretty much been in obedience classes from 10 weeks on, I actually overlapped the last week of puppy class and our first grade one class. We just finished Grade 1, she got "excellent" on all components of her evaluation. She is fine with the other dogs in class, except for the odd time that she'll bark. I have signed her up for Grade 2, starting in a couple of weeks, so we'll continue with our training.

At daycare, the lady who started the daycare is a trainer. She says she gets on fine with everyone (they do not allow aggressive dogs there and said my pup is social and fine). It's just on leash that seems to be the biggest problem.

Do they outgrow this? Or what should I be doing if she gets ramped up while on leash and sees another dog?

She is just a very excitable dog. Wonderful, but excitable. lol

When I pick her up from daycare, it's an adventure every time. They try to get her collar on her before I get there so I can grab her really quick. Trying to teach her not to jump up has been a complete and utter failure thus far. :S She is literally squealing with excitement when she sees me and I think one day she might just burst! She is also extremely agile and trying to catch/control her is like trying to squeeze a wet bar of soap, she somehow squeaks through your hands and is bouncing everywhere.

I am not giving up! I am just worried about the leash aggression and how to go about working on this with her.

Basically, I think she is the small dog in this cartoon:

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-11-2012, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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I should also note, I've noticed (I think our obedience classes have been what helped with this) that inside she is more relaxed with other dogs than outside.

Even at the vets office, she is MUCH better about other dogs coming and going.

There are still certain dogs that she seems to pick up on their vibe and gets a bit defensive.

For example, in obedience class, on our last day, she was fine with all the dogs passing by, but another GSD came by and she barked at him. GSD's seem to be one breed that she almost always reacts to, I don't know if it's because they tend to have a more dominant type of personality? But I thought that would be worth mentioning.

I'm wondering if I should call my training place. They have a behaviourist there who has Mals, maybe I should book a few private lessons to work on the leash aggression?
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-2012, 06:52 PM
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I'm also a new GSD owner with an 11 week old so I'm not very experienced. But a neighbor has a 4 yr old male GSD and according to my neighbor he has the same problem. He was even skeptical about letting my puppy around his dog because of his leash aggression. But he told me that if he were to let him off the leash that the dog would be fine. So I'm assuming its not something that's just outgrown?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-2012, 07:21 PM
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Sounds like your pup is a little nervous and maybe lacks a little confidence right now. Not totally unusual for a puppy that age. Work on the bond between you and your dog, and obedience training is a must. When Suki was younger she used to pull my arm nearly out of the socket to approach a dog before the other dog could approach her. Its as if she wanted to tell that other dog "I'm not too sure about you so I'm going to chase you off before you can get too close to me!" - its a defense mechanism.

Now that Suki has had more socialization and we have worked on the obedience - she gets excited when other dogs approach, but she knows that in order to meet and play with others, she has to sit quietly next to me and allow the other dog to sniff first. It's just good manners.

It takes time, but if you work on this (I would try private training - that's what we did and we are first time GSD owners as well and it worked wonders) I don't think your pup will have any long term issues. To me, it just seems like your girl is exuberant and excited, and definately a little unsure of herself.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-14-2012, 01:54 AM
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so when you drop her off you are probably rushed needing to get to work in time and can't spend the extra time to fix or settle the behaviour?
She is young , at that stage where they feel their vulnerability and can get aroused . When she first sensed the other dog and alerted on him , I would have done something , a little check to the collar to distract her and then move into something which refocuses her attention on you (positive) , maybe walk back and forth while the other dog comes closer to you , not away from , but not having her looking at him . Then when you are close do your normal greet , calm dog, good, praise.
So you said "when the dog walked away she was back to barking." Was she barking at that dog (airedale) walking away? Then it could be like the postman syndrome where the postie continues the route but the dog , who is barking, thinking they are some big shot who caused the postie to go away .
I think part of the solution is not to have this dog make the decisions " she either wants to play to the point that she does her excited barking " - so then you get in their , redirect and get her focus and then her reward is to allow her to go when your conditions have been met , which includes to calm down . Eventually you should be able to release her AND recall her to you , then release her again. That is a good safety precaution so that if off lead or if the lead gets out of your grasp and she sees another dog , on the other side of a road for instance , that she doesn't just go blindly charging over to visit.
And "or the hackles are up and it's her big girl bark" same thing , take her attention away from the dog , be that leader-partner , refocus , calm , and praise .

"When I pick her up from daycare, it's an adventure every time. They try to get her collar on her before I get there so I can grab her really quick. Trying to teach her not to jump up has been a complete and utter failure thus far. :S She is literally squealing with excitement when she sees me and I think one day she might just burst! She is also extremely agile and trying to catch/control her is like trying to squeeze a wet bar of soap, she somehow squeaks through your hands and is bouncing everywhere."
Bring a large crate to the daycare for your dog only. Have them give her time-out rest periods maybe 15 to 20 minutes every hour . Pups need rest . They can be over stimulated . Ask the daycare person to "prepare" your dog for your arrival . That is to put her in to her crate about one half hour before your routine arrival. This settles her down a bit , puts her in to a different frame of mind. Then when she comes out of the crate she is clipped on to the lead, come out on short lead, sit down first and show some manners. So when you pick her up you don't ramp her up . Just a nice greeting, 'so nice to see you, want to go home' quick pat and away you go.

Ask for what you want from the dog .
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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Suki, that's pretty much it. She is a bit nervous and tries to scare the other dog away.

The same thing happened this weekend, I had friends over who own her half brother. She's 5 month old 50 lb pup, and he's 95 lbs. She went nuts when she saw him. I found that if the other person holds the dog so he can't come to her, she can go to him and she feels comfortable (without the other dog bounding over), she is very submissive when she greets and wants to play. It took a couple of tries, but by the time they left, they were playing really well together and totally relaxed with each other. I was really glad for that. She's actually very sociable with other dogs, she's just a bit fearful until she knows they are friendly.

carmspack, it's difficult, because the Airdale was loose and I was just getting there with my pup and it ran over, did a quick sniff then left. That might have just been one of those things that unfortunately was a bit, not unavoidable, but caught me off my guard (I didn't know he was loose until I opened the gate which is wooden and about 7' high) I know I have to work on some things with her, I'll try to use those suggestions in the future the next time she alerts before letting her approach.

Daycare isn't a place I can really do it much unfortunately, because they open at 7:00am and my work shift starts at 7:00am, so I literally have no time and I'm late every morning. I wish I had more time in the morning. Getting there early doesn't work, because nobody is there! The crate before pick up is a good idea, I might see if they have anything there that I can use, I'll ask them tonight. That way I can close the crate door if she's acting wild and wait until she settles. We tried to work on 'settle' in obedience class, but amazingly, she is really focused in class and I was having a hard time getting her excited. lol

Don't worry, I'm not giving up on our obedience classes, I'm actually really enjoying them.

This is my first GSD pup, and I can see why you guys all get hooked on the breed. She's an amazing friend already and I love her so much, I just get overwhelmed a bit sometimes at the intensity that they have, at least when the intensity is working against me. I think if I ever get another in the future, I'll be more successful, this has been a very steep learning curve, despite all the reading I did before she came home. Reading about it is one thing, living it is quite another!

I'll say this: I wish any of the humans I know would be half as happy to see me as my dog is <3

Last edited by blackshep; 10-15-2012 at 02:24 PM.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2012, 11:21 AM
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my dog used to do that to me at that age i think is normal for the first 2 times i went to the dog park it happened but i just let him loose and he got confortable on his own

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