I've written previous posts on here regarding the continuous behavior problems with our now 1 year old, female GSD. At 4 months old, her previous owner surrendered her to us. Since the day we got her, she's been wild. We've had numerous GSD, but she's a whole different game. She recently spent 6 weeks at a reputable boarding and training program (mostly for aggression toward other dogs) and did great. She learned a lot and did really well with the other dogs there. The trainer concluded that her aggression toward other dogs mostly stemmed from fear/being unsure. The minute we arrived to pick her up, she began typical behaviors that were a problem (jumping on me, etc.). Her behavior was much better than before the training right after we returned home and began making the new rules/boundaries clear, but she has gradually regressed. She is an extremely sweet dog. She's so loving, but it seems that she can never fully relax which drives the whole house crazy. She wakes us and the other dogs up every morning stirring around in her crate. She acts like a total fool howling and barking when she's put in her crate before we leave the house and when we return home. She goes nuts when someone knocks on the door. Those are just a few of the manners/behavior issues we're dealing with. When she "plays" with the other dogs now, she's constantly pushing her limits until the older girls won't deal with her crap anymore. I honestly feel that our 3 year old GSD is just completely fed up. I'll be honest, I've been in tears over the stress of dealing with her in recent weeks. I love her so much, but she's a 24/7 job and the most difficult of all 4 of our dogs which range in age from 12 weeks to 9 years old. I keep hoping that this is just part of her adolescent phase and she'll become more calm, but I'm beginning to think this is just how she is. My husband and I are both home most of the time so she gets plenty of obedience training and exercise every day. We use both negative and positive reinforcement for her training. We've recently been adding in more crate time with her crate in the family room since that does seem to help her remain in chill mode for longer. What now? She was spayed almost 1 week ago, and since then we've constantly been discussing what our next steps should be with her. She acts like a totally different dog around other people (fearful/nervous but calm). Is it me? Her age? Is she just so anxious that she can't relax? We REALLY don't want to re-home her, and I'm not sure either of us could ever go through with it even if that's what we decided to do, but I'm beginning to wonder if she would be happier in a household with no kids or other pets where she could be the center of attention without depriving the others. We just don't know what else to do at this point... Help!
First, take a couple of deep breaths or scream into a pillow, whatever works to calm you down.
How many of your 4 are GSD’s and female? You mentioned boarding and training for aggression to other dogs. Bitch on bitch aggression is notorious for this breed. They often don’t do well in the same home. So if she is being aggressive to other females in your house, you’ll need to deploy the crate and rotate system for her. You should do this anyway if she is pestering the 3yr old so much. That’s a big vet bill you’ll be looking at if the 3rd old finally snaps.
I don’t recommend board and train facilities, because it only involves training the dog. The owner needs to be involved in all training sessions, or you’ll get the result you got. Great when she first got back, but then reverted back to bad behavior. It could be something as easy as bad timing on commands/treats, or command/toy, command/praise. Whichever you use while training her. Everyone suggests a trainer coming to you because it’s the best way to get results for your home life. The trainer will teach you along with the dog. Not saying you’re a bad owner, if you were, you’d have 4 out of control dogs. But what’s worked for you in the past isn’t going to work on every dog. An experienced GSD trainer can help, and give you the “hey, that’s a great idea, but let’s put this spin on it because she’s more drivey than your other dogs,” type deal.
I’ve rehabbed some serious behavioral issues with a lot of different “bully breeds.” Lyka I got at age 2-4, and she was my kryptonite. Nothing worked on her. I still wear the beautiful scars on my arms from her coming up the leash at me. I had to recognize the fact that even though I’ve used various techniques on various breeds very successfully, not one single one was working for this dog. I hired an experienced trainer. Day one he told taught me about her body language, which I was missing. To me, it looked like a no warning bite, but he proved otherwise. And she wasn’t easy. I spent a year working her with and without the trainer, and we now have a well settled member of the family, but still have to manage some of her behaviors, because she has weak nerves and is fear aggressive. I’d say we trained 75% of the problems away, but still manage 25% of her behaviors.
It was a long road, but one I would happily travel down again. She is so worth it.
And sometimes you have to just be honest with yourself and say, I can’t. I can’t put that much time, training, and money into this girl. And that is perfectly okay too. Don’t guilt yourself into keeping a dog that will never work with your family. Rehome to someone you’ve done extensive background on, and make sure to do a home check. 4 dogs is a lot to handle, I know, I have 4! I recently had surgery, and had to have a come to Jesus talk with myself. Crios is a 2 yr old unaltered male, with energy and drive that is through the roof. I had to say “I just can’t handle his needs right now.” We didn’t rehome him, but he is with a fellow foster for the next couple weeks while I’m recovering. His amped up energy put everyone on edge.
Do what works best for you and your family, no matter what that outcome may be.