Getting bullied at the dog park - Page 4 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #31 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 04:15 PM
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Whether at a dog park or a friendly play date with a trusted dog (though it's a mystery to me how people can determine that), IMHO you have got to let your puppy defend himself sometimes, it builds confidence. If or when your puppy is crying or hiding behind you, sure help him out and shoo the other dog away! But if you want him to be less of a target you have to let him learn that he can also defend himself. He will, and you'll quickly see a change in his demeanor.
In bite sports it is always cautioned not to work a young dog in defense drive because it can ruin a good dog and create avoidance or reactivity issues - the exact opposite of confidence.

Wouldn't a young dog defending himself against other dogs be using the same drive as when defending himself against a helper? Seems to me that if a young dog shouldn't be put into defensive drive against a human opponent, it shouldn't have to face that stress with a canine one either.

This just seems like an all around bad idea and out right dangerous advice.

I have seen plenty of dogs that develop life long reactivity issues due to bad experiences as a pup.

And then of course we have to take into account genetics. A well bred puppy with sound genetics may be a target for a short time due to it's immaturity, but barring any traumatic events it will mature into a sound, confident dog regardless of how many other dogs it beat up on the play ground. A genetically weak dog will always be so and will probably a life long target, nothing you can do to raise that dog's confidence. Demanding that it defend itself will just cause undue stress and lead to behavior problems.
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post #32 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by voodoolamb View Post
In bite sports it is always cautioned not to work a young dog in defense drive because it can ruin a good dog and create avoidance or reactivity issues - the exact opposite of confidence.

Wouldn't a young dog defending himself against other dogs be using the same drive as when defending himself against a helper? Seems to me that if a young dog shouldn't be put into defensive drive against a human opponent, it shouldn't have to face that stress with a canine one either.

This just seems like an all around bad idea and out right dangerous advice.

I have seen plenty of dogs that develop life long reactivity issues due to bad experiences as a pup.

And then of course we have to take into account genetics. A well bred puppy with sound genetics may be a target for a short time due to it's immaturity, but barring any traumatic events it will mature into a sound, confident dog regardless of how many other dogs it beat up on the play ground. A genetically weak dog will always be so and will probably a life long target, nothing you can do to raise that dog's confidence. Demanding that it defend itself will just cause undue stress and lead to behavior problems.
I don't trial, but my understanding of the advice not to push a young dog into defense too young is not that working in defence is bad per se, it's pushing the pup too hard at too young an age risks breaking his confidence, and that is what "ruins" them and creates the reactivity or avoidance you're referring to. Lots of folks on here do work their dogs in these sports though, so maybe they can speak to that better than I can. I do stand by what I said though, stress can be very good for a dog, distress not. If you can't tell the difference, err on the side of caution!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #33 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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As always, thank you everyone.

I really appreciate this forum for hosting so many different opinions, from differing backgrounds, in a usually respectful manner.

I will not be going to dog parks. I will continue to set Sitka up with playdates with 2 dogs I know he plays well with - a 7 month old shepherd/dane female, and an 9 month old Texas Heeler (the only dog Sitka has ever almost dominated lol)

As for dog reactivity and leash aggression. I have tried many different techniques. I've used flat collars, front and rear clip harnesses, and a halti; next on the list to try is the prong collar, if need be. I've tried walking the other direction, correcting Sitka with a sharp 'no' and pull on the leash, using the 'claw' grip on Sitka's neck and saying no, simply ignoring Sitka's reaction. The group obedience class we enrolled in, gave the advice to just keep forcing him to walk around and near other dogs; the idea of exposure leading to eventual extinction...In retrospect, I think this class was poorly done and I'd have been better enrolling him in 1 on 1 training.

The last three days I have repeated the 'look at me' command from the second we see the other dog, non-stop treating Sitka with all his favorites. I have made a very conscious effort to not tighten the leash and keep a very calm demeanour. And for these three days he hasn't barked at the other dogs!! Not to say he has't reacted, he is still moving his start between me and the dog, and definitely on high alert, but at least he isn't lunging at the chihuahua a 1/2 block away.

I will be enrolling him into one on one training with a highly qualified trainer when my budget permits.


In the meantime, what other games or exercises are recommended for building confidence? We play fetch while training with plenty of praise, go for walks in the neighborhood while training, go for long hikes in new environments where Stika can have free, unleashed adventure.
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post #34 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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IMO the dog reactivity Sitka is showing is fear based, precisely because he was allowed to interact with strange dogs and get bullied, but not allowed to defend himself and win. Obviously your approach with any dog has to be tempered to the nerves of that dog. I believe most all dogs can benefit from being stressed a little and working through that. But again, how much stress a dog can handle depends on the dog. As with anything related to your own dog, you have to learn to read them. Stressing a dog is good for them, distressing a dog is generally never good for them.
I have definitely tried not to intercept most of his interactions. When I have interruppted, its because Sitka is either a) squished against a fence/tree with more than one dog barking at him, or b) he's yelping. You've repeated that stress is okay for dogs but distress isn't. Sitka is quite obviously getting distressed when being bullied by these dogs time and time again.

I want to recognize the features in Sitka that make him a target, and build his confidence before repeating these negative experiences.

I suppose, I have tried your method, but its getting the same result: Sitka keeps getting bullied and not standing up for himself in groups of dogs, so I need to find a new tactic.

Thanks for your input though. It sounds like you've done a good job with your girl.

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post #35 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
I don't trial, but my understanding of the advice not to push a young dog into defense too young is not that working in defence is bad per se, it's pushing the pup too hard at too young an age risks breaking his confidence, and that is what "ruins" them and creates the reactivity or avoidance you're referring to.
I think maybe you should take some time to learn about defense drives in dogs before encouraging people to allow their puppies to defend themselves...

Quote:
The great danger when working a dog in defense drive is that the same stimuli which cause defense behaviour also cause avoidance behaviour. Which of the two possible behaviours is displayed by a dog when a trigger stimulus is presented is dependant on a variety of factors, among them confidence and temperament of the dog as well as the threatener, "life" experiences of the dog, age and maturity of the dog, location (unfamiliar or home turf), distance between adversaries, and the presence of other external influences (prey, mate, puppies).
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Look at ALL of those factors that have to be taken into consideration before letting a dog get into defensive drive safely.

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Lots of folks on here do work their dogs in these sports though, so maybe they can speak to that better than I can. I do stand by what I said though, stress can be very good for a dog, distress not. If you can't tell the difference, err on the side of caution!
But we aren't even talking about DOGS. We are talking about puppies. Immature animals that haven't developed fully into their drives. Putting them into an uncontrolled situation that can get out of hand very quickly.

Humans putting pups / young dogs into defense for sport work is inadvisable, and that is with the people reading the dog and specifically not trying to push it too hard... But with other dogs? YOU CAN'T CONTROL THEM!

If you leave your pup to defend itself in the free for all that is the dog park - how do you keep the dog park bullies from "pushing too hard at too young of an age"?

"Oh hi there Mr. Husky, can you please not push my puppy too hard so you don't break his confidence?" Yeah. Not gonna work.

Rough play can escalate to a full out fight in a matter of SECONDS. Especially in dog park environments. And guess what? By the time that the humans can see that they need to intervene - it is already too late. The impression of the situation has already been made on the pup.

There is absolutely NO NEED to make a puppy defend itself so it gains confidence. Dogs are not introspective. They don't sit there and think "Oh hey I don't like getting beat up. I need to learn to stick up for myself". The confidence a dog has is largely genetic and hormonal driven. They either have it at birth or they don't. Not doing anything and letting the puppy mature without being put under uncontrollable stress will result in a confident dog at maturity - if they were destined to be one in their genetic blue print. However, putting a pup into situations where it needs to defend itself before it is mature enough to do so - it's putting that blueprint through the shredder.

Get a good pup. Do nothing with it regarding defense and you have a good dog. Get a good pup and be an idiot about pushing it's defensive boundaries and you get a mess of a dog with psych problems. < I've seen that scenario play out time and time again. By people who willing push their dogs into defense and by people who accidentally let stuff happen.
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post #36 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
I don't trial, but my understanding of the advice not to push a young dog into defense too young is not that working in defence is bad per se, it's pushing the pup too hard at too young an age risks breaking his confidence, and that is what "ruins" them and creates the reactivity or avoidance you're referring to.
I think maybe you should take some time to learn about defense drives in dogs before encouraging people to allow their puppies to defend themselves...

Quote:
The great danger when working a dog in defense drive is that the same stimuli which cause defense behaviour also cause avoidance behaviour. Which of the two possible behaviours is displayed by a dog when a trigger stimulus is presented is dependant on a variety of factors, among them confidence and temperament of the dog as well as the threatener, "life" experiences of the dog, age and maturity of the dog, location (unfamiliar or home turf), distance between adversaries, and the presence of other external influences (prey, mate, puppies).
Schutzhund Village

Look at ALL of those factors that have to be taken into consideration before letting a dog get into defensive drive safely.

Quote:
Lots of folks on here do work their dogs in these sports though, so maybe they can speak to that better than I can. I do stand by what I said though, stress can be very good for a dog, distress not. If you can't tell the difference, err on the side of caution!
But we aren't even talking about DOGS. We are talking about puppies. Immature animals that haven't developed fully into their drives. Putting them into an uncontrolled situation that can get out of hand very quickly.

Humans putting pups / young dogs into defense for sport work is inadvisable, and that is with the people reading the dog and specifically not trying to push it too hard... But with other dogs? YOU CAN'T CONTROL THEM!

If you leave your pup to defend itself in the free for all that is the dog park - how do you keep the dog park bullies from "pushing too hard at too young of an age"?

"Oh hi there Mr. Husky, can you please not push my puppy too hard so you don't break his confidence?" Yeah. Not gonna work.

Rough play can escalate to a full out fight in a matter of SECONDS. Especially in dog park environments. And guess what? By the time that the humans can see that they need to intervene - it is already too late. The impression of the situation has already been made on the pup.

There is absolutely NO NEED to make a puppy defend itself so it gains confidence. Dogs are not introspective. They don't sit there and think "Oh hey I don't like getting beat up. I need to learn to stick up for myself". The confidence a dog has is largely genetic and hormonal driven. They either have it at birth or they don't. Not doing anything and letting the puppy mature without being put under uncontrollable stress will result in a confident dog at maturity - if they were destined to be one in their genetic blue print. However, putting a pup into situations where it needs to defend itself before it is mature enough to do so - it's putting that blueprint through the shredder.

Get a good pup. Do nothing with it regarding defense and you have a good dog. Get a good pup and be an idiot about pushing it's defensive boundaries and you get a mess of a dog with psych problems. < I've seen that scenario play out time and time again. By people who willing push their dogs into defense and by people who accidentally let stuff happen.
I agree with everything here! Op listen to this
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post #37 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I will definitely take this advice and NOT put Sitka in environments where he needs to go into defense mode. That's exactly what I'm training him not to do. I want him to be indifferent to dogs 90% of the time, and open to safe fair play in the appropriate 10% of the time remaining.

I often hear/read of the genetic basis for courage - weak nerved or solid. I really, really don't think Sitka is weak nerved. I'm very new to all of this, but as I've read on here and elsewhere, Sitka does not seem to be weak nerved. He stayed at the breeder's until 4 months old, so he was understandable sheltered an nervous when I brought him to the big bad city. But since then he has traveled all over the country, only showing fear to 2 things: bully dogs in dog parks, and baths at the groomers.

His dad was a 90lb solid black working line, who challenged a black bear in the woods of Vancouver Island and came back with a mouth full of fur. His mom was a 55lb 1/2 working line, 1/2 show line. As far as I know she never met a black bear.

I met only 1 of Sitka's littermates who was an extremely hyper active, boisterous male. He literally sat on Sitka when Sitka laid on his back for a belly rub upon meeting me. As I said, the other 4 or 5 males in the litter would all pick on Sitka as a baby, and I wonder if that's part of where his fearfulness comes from.

Eventually, I'd like to put Sitka in Shutzhund training, but not until he's built up some more confidence.

My original question, about why Sitka was being targeted has been answer: he comes across as nervous and is an easy target. Like the friendly shy kid who keeps getting bullied because he's just too darn friendly. Now, how do we instill confidence in that little shy kid? How do I make stop Sitka from being the victim, and so preventing the need for defensiveness.

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post #38 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 06:06 PM
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Thanks. I will definitely take this advice and NOT put Sitka in environments where he needs to go into defense mode. That's exactly what I'm training him not to do. I want him to be indifferent to dogs 90% of the time, and open to safe fair play in the appropriate 10% of the time remaining.

I often hear/read of the genetic basis for courage - weak nerved or solid. I really, really don't think Sitka is weak nerved. I'm very new to all of this, but as I've read on here and elsewhere, Sitka does not seem to be weak nerved. He stayed at the breeder's until 4 months old, so he was understandable sheltered an nervous when I brought him to the big bad city. But since then he has traveled all over the country, only showing fear to 2 things: bully dogs in dog parks, and baths at the groomers.

His dad was a 90lb solid black working line, who challenged a black bear in the woods of Vancouver Island and came back with a mouth full of fur. His mom was a 55lb 1/2 working line, 1/2 show line. As far as I know she never met a black bear.

I met only 1 of Sitka's littermates who was an extremely hyper active, boisterous male. He literally sat on Sitka when Sitka laid on his back for a belly rub upon meeting me. As I said, the other 4 or 5 males in the litter would all pick on Sitka as a baby, and I wonder if that's part of where his fearfulness comes from.

Eventually, I'd like to put Sitka in Shutzhund training, but not until he's built up some more confidence.

My original question, about why Sitka was being targeted has been answer: he comes across as nervous and is an easy target. Like the friendly shy kid who keeps getting bullied because he's just too darn friendly. Now, how do we instill confidence in that little shy kid? How do I make stop Sitka from being the victim, and so preventing the need for defensiveness.
You let him grow up. You play games where he wins. You set him up to be successful, not defeated. Do you and the pup play tug. That is a great way to build confidence. Obedience training is great at building confidence. Nosework games are good at confidence building. I'll post a few video links when I get home to my computer with different games and activities that will help you and him.

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post #39 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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You let him grow up. You play games where he wins. You set him up to be successful, not defeated. Do you and the pup play tug. That is a great way to build confidence. Obedience training is great at building confidence. Nosework games are good at confidence building. I'll post a few video links when I get home to my computer with different games and activities that will help you and him.
Thanks! I'd really like to do nose work; I think he'd love it, We play fetch in the dark in a snowy field and he has to find his toy with nose, and he loves the heaps of praise he gets when he finds it!

We play tug sometimes, but it's not his favorite. When I let him win, he brings it back immediately. When I try to win, he lets go almost right away and looks at me like "oh, you want this? Okay, you can have it!"

I'm looking forward to the seeing the videos/links with different games and activities. I'm very glad to hear the reassurance that he is still a pup and has to grow up. He looks so grown up, its easy to over look.

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Last edited by SitkatheGSD; 12-23-2017 at 06:19 PM.
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post #40 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
Whether at a dog park or a friendly play date with a trusted dog (though it's a mystery to me how people can determine that), IMHO you have got to let your puppy defend himself sometimes, it builds confidence. If or when your puppy is crying or hiding behind you, sure help him out and shoo the other dog away! But if you want him to be less of a target you have to let him learn that he can also defend himself. He will, and you'll quickly see a change in his demeanor.
That might work for your pup (I doubt it though) but I wonder what he will like in a year or so. You don't see these effects right away, but more so once they start to go into adolescence. I worry you about putting this advice out here. If we leave them (=abandon) to their own devices, the bullies get more aggressive and the submissive and fearful ones get more fear aggressive. You see the same results n puppy classes where it is free for all because "puppies need it".
Dogs do not live in natural consistent packs that only consist of dogs who know what they are doing. Instead they have to deal with humans who most often don't have a clue of what is going on and still the dogs have to assume these same humans are in charge?
You will not cure fearfulness by letting "them work it out."
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