Just starting to meet other dogs - scared kind of? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-14-2016, 04:22 AM Thread Starter
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Just starting to meet other dogs - scared kind of?

Prepare for an essay, sorry - wanted to include all the facts and background:

Now that our almost 14 week old puppy has finished his vaccines, we've finally been able to take him out more than in the past. In his first month or so with us, he has seen some dogs out and about/at the vet's office etc., but hasn't really interacted with them. For the most part, he just ignores other dogs he has seen, even if they're barking.

The exception is when he comes with me to work, he's around my colleague's 13 y/o golden retriever who ignores him. The first time he met her (she stood there and looked at him and had no reaction), he hid behind me and tried to run back into my office, which I allowed him to do, while I stayed and pet the dog so he could see.

The second time, he tried to play with her, and she flat out ignored him because she was resting and is an old lady who wants to be left in peace.

This weekend we took him to a park after having breakfast nearby at a restaurant with him. The restaurant was filled with dogs, who he doesn't bark at, but he will hide behind us when they get too close.

At the park we just wanted him to have the chance to play in the grass a little, but as we were walking, we were near the dog park, which only had two dogs in it, so we walked him near the fence just so he could see the other dogs/see us not reacting to them, or only reacting positively (petting them if they calmly came up to us on the other side of the fence). He seemed cautious about this, but didn't bark or anything.

While there, someone's off leash bichon came up to us and tried to sniff Klaus, who promptly hid behind me. My husband (Klaus's favorite person) pet the dog in an effort to move him away from Klaus, and it was the only time I've ever heard Klaus growl. The dog ignored him but ran off to his owner. He approached us again later and tried to hump Klaus (lovely), at which point we were calm but immediately pushed the other dog off, but Klaus clearly wanted to play (did the play bow posture and pulled to get toward the dog) but the dog ran away to his owner again.

I'm so confused about his mixed reactions that I don't know how to approach the whole meeting other dogs thing for the best results. I've read other threads here, and I won't ever force him to play with a dog. I don't even care if he really likes other dogs, but he will have to ignore other dogs, even if they sometimes get in his personal space (but aren't threatening him of course).

This city is teeming with dogs, many of them annoyingly off leash, and we have very narrow sidewalks in many places, meaning that the dogs almost brush past each other when walking. We also like taking him everywhere with us when we can, and plan to regularly take him places like restaurants, the beach, etc. Even at the non-dog beach there are usually plenty of dogs running around off leash, so he'll need to be able to handle this - positively or by ignoring it - if he is to come with us.

Our new trainer suggested having some play times with other puppies near his age and size, and we hoped to set up something with two of his siblings and something with a friend of mine with a slightly older gsd pup. Is this something that could help his confidence with other dogs? Is there something else we should be doing or another way we should go about helping him make being around other dogs a non-issue? I just want him to be a stable adult dog who can be out and about without issue.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-14-2016, 10:17 AM
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If what you want is your dog to move about confidently among people and other dogs,then that's exactly what to practice.Walk with him with confidence and go right on by the strange dogs.A group walk with his siblings and the older pup would be helpful,they can all practice ignoring each other,and maybe play afterwards.Make sure none of the pups bully the other ones and that your dog never feels overwhelmed or defensive.That's a state of mind you definitely don't want him to practice.
That's what I would do anyway,practice what you do want and not what you don't!
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-15-2016, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, we will definitely set up a group walk, and I really hope that will boost his confidence.

This morning I took him on a walk - which he wasn't very thrilled about in the first place, though I'm not entirely sure why, since he was bursting with energy at home, and when we turned a corner, we ran into the Tel Aviv trifecta of doom - two street cats jumped in front of us just as three dogs approached being walked by a crazy old lady who was certain she knew what was best for my pup. She was on the other side of a row of cars, and asked me if my pup is a gsd - I said yes, but he doesn't like dogs (the only way I know how to express his behavior in Hebrew).

She basically told me "no no it's fine" and starts going around the cars to come towards us. Meanwhile, Klaus has his back to a wall, cowering and whining with his hackles up, and the lady keeps coming. I finally just picked him up, shooed the cats away, and continued on, giving him some treats as he started walking again.

I have no idea if this was the proper way to handle this situation, or if he's now more traumatized then ever. These were the only dogs we passed on our walk (super early) so I didn't see his reaction after that.

I feel that he doesn't really like walking without my husband, who is the person he's become attached to and I think sees as the family protector. I understand that, seeing as he's a huge guy and I'm a pretty small woman, and my husband is generally more confident than I am, especially walking around in this city, but I've never let anyone hurt Klaus, I always try to project calm energy with him and don't let anything phase me, and I do 80% of his feeding and training.

I'm not really sure how to boost his confidence with me, which I think would in turn boost his confidence on our walks.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-15-2016, 10:27 AM
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Don't worry,Klaus will be fine.You did the right thing by moving on.If you could have a do over...cats jump out"Look at that Klaus,wow!" as you keep walking calmly.Lady wants to visit with her dog's...keep on going,no hesitation,as you call out to her"Sorry,he doesn't like dogs!"
If you can decide ahead of time to not be hesitant and just keep on no matter what,so will Klaus.
I've seen it myself with Samson,who is nervy with people.If I'm unsure about something he's a wreck.If I ignore and keep on he'll give a quick glance and he's fine and calm.

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Devo Yorkie Mix at the bridge
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 07:43 AM Thread Starter
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Getting worse

So Klaus has been getting a lot more time out in the world lately now that his shots are done (Rabies tomorrow), and unfortunately his attitude towards other dogs has been getting worse. I've been taking the approach of just calmly continuing past other dogs as recommended, but it doesn't seem to be working. He stops dead in his tracks any time he sees another dog, even if it's on the other side of the street. I try to calmly encourage him to continue on, which ends up being me basically dragging him (in his harness).

A couple times we've let him approach other puppies to see if his reaction would be better since they're about his same age. One was a tiny pup, one was another slightly smaller gsd puppy, both very friendly. Both times he hid behind us like the other puppy was trying to kill him.

Now today for the first time, when my husband took him to a restaurant for lunch, he started barking (his big dog bark, not playful puppy bark) and growling at every single dog that walked past, even in the distance. This is not normal behavior for him, as he usually just calmly lays under our table and naps at restaurants.

I'm just so confused, because he's never had a bad experience with another dog, he loves all people including children we meet on the street, and he wants so badly to play with the old golden retriever in my office (who growls at him every time he tries, which he completely ignores). He used to play well with his brothers and sisters - I just don't understand where we went wrong.

We will discuss this with our trainer at our session tonight, but I'd love any advice before then as well. He's currently in a stage where he hates going on walks in the direction away from home or work, even just to go potty (often just sitting down on the sidewalk and refusing to move for anything), but will walk nicely back to towards the house or if we take him by car somewhere else, so the walking well has been kind of my main focus lately. Now I'm kind of panicking that I'm going to have a dog destined to be muzzled every time I want to walk him and who won't be able to go everywhere with us like we planned.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 09:04 AM
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My girl was the same way. Puppies her size even stressed her out she would be glued to my/or my boyfriends legs and would not budge and if another dog came too close she'd growl and show her teeth. It could just be too much for your puppy right now I wouldn't force him to meet any dogs or puppies if he's still clenched to your legs and hiding, it just causes him stress. Ours we'd just go to a park and play with her and if they were other dogs near by she'd completely ignore them which I liked. Eventually she'd go watch them play from a distance inching further away from us but still in her comfort zone. And she just learned at her own pace and comfortablity that other dogs were ok. We never stop and meet strange dogs either. Now she's 13 months and very dog neutral. Doesn't acknowledge them at all but if she feels like engaging in play she will.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Milliegsd View Post
My girl was the same way. Puppies her size even stressed her out she would be glued to my/or my boyfriends legs and would not budge and if another dog came too close she'd growl and show her teeth. It could just be too much for your puppy right now I wouldn't force him to meet any dogs or puppies if he's still clenched to your legs and hiding, it just causes him stress. Ours we'd just go to a park and play with her and if they were other dogs near by she'd completely ignore them which I liked. Eventually she'd go watch them play from a distance inching further away from us but still in her comfort zone. And she just learned at her own pace and comfortablity that other dogs were ok. We never stop and meet strange dogs either. Now she's 13 months and very dog neutral. Doesn't acknowledge them at all but if she feels like engaging in play she will.
Thank you so much for posting this, it made me feel a lot better. I just felt that it was so unusual since most puppies I see are really interested in other puppies. Thankfully we also had a great session with our trainer tonight where we introduced him to another puppy we met on the street and had an 80% positive reaction with lots of treats and praise, then moved along. She showed us some great techniques to deal with seeing other dogs, so hopefully things will improve. I think you're right, that it's best to just keep a distance for now. Thanks again!
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 06:19 PM
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Hi, my Arya is roughly the same age as Klaus, we brought her home at 6 weeks and started her jabs soon after. We started walking her after the second jab on the advice of the vet keeping her away from high doggy traffic, so she's maybe had more walking experience than Klaus from an early age. Here are some of the things I do / don't do:
-I try to take her to different places & routes as often as possible so she's paying more attention to where we're going than who we see along the way.
-I gauge other dog walkers as they approach and see if their dog seems calm and if the owner seems happy to meet.
-I don't let her meet every dog we meet, so she doesn't think it's the done thing.
-If she starts to shy away or try to pull back towards the house (she also acts like she doesnt want to walk sometimes, not sure why), I show her a treat, hold it in my hand so she's just behind my heel and encourage her to follow the treat then when she's walking well, I give it to her.
- I share walking with my son, I usually do mornings, him the evening. He likes to take her around to friends houses and play with friends dogs.
My walks consist of a short distance on the lead then a track, off the lead. I think walking off the lead has helped her to learn how to behave, especially with other dogs. I read on here somewhere it's more natural for dogs to meet in their own way, off the lead. The first time we met dogs, I put her on the lead and I nearly strangled her trying to get her out of the way of a couple of bounding dogs, I felt terrible afterwards so decided that from then on I would only put her lead back on if the other owners did. So far so good, she is very sociable and we have been lucky enough to have had all positive experiences.
Sorry it's a bit long winded, I'm no expert most of what I do is down to the research I've done on here and other websites lol
I would advise walking far enough to make sure he is tired before attempting a restaurant. Best of luck, I'm sure he will improve as he builds confidence.
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