Is my dog manipulating me? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Is my dog manipulating me?

Hi again. Another noobie question. You have no idea how much it helps me to read these responses, so thanks for being patient with my constant noobie questions.



So. My 3-year-old GSD I adopted about 2 months ago has developed some new discouraging behaviors and I wonder if it's because she realizes I'm soft and is manipulating me.



I am trying to be consistent and strict with the rules I am enforcing around the house and during walks: no pulling on leash, no jumping on furniture, etc. etc. I make her sit before we go on walks, before I let her out the door, before I let her back in (I guess that's called Nothing In Life Is Free?), she has to go into her crate before I feed her (which she actually started doing on her own--must have been trained that way). We do little training sessions several times a day and during walks where I have her sit, down, stay, etc. Her obedience seems generally really good.



When something scares her, she gets SO cowardly and pathetic and I feel the need to rush to comfort her; for instance, yesterday I was doing some kickboxing in the sunroom (watching a DVD on an old laptop), and she came in to check on me and tripped over the computer cord, I jumped forward to catch the computer before it fell, and after that she was PETRIFIED of the computer cord--would not come back into the sunroom until I put it away.



So anyway. The stuff that's worrying me now....she's stopped eating her breakfast because she wants me to put wet food on it. That doesn't worry me too much, because I'm not going to give in. She got spayed last Tuesday and I wanted her to eat after that so I was putting tiny little bits of wet food to entice her (like...TINY little bits, maybe 3-4 little wet food meat chunks). I've been trying to wean her off of that. So now she won't eat when I initially give her kibble, but then she'll stare at me for a bit, give up, and go eat maybe 1/2 of it. If she doesn't finish after 10-15 minutes, I take it away. I figure when she gets hungry enough she'll eat it.



But what REALLY bothers me now is what she does when I leave for work. She used to be totally fine when I'd leave her in her crate, no whining, no barking. I freeze a Kong with wet dog food and some treats, and she'd be all over that. But the last couple days, she goes willingly into her crate (I assume because she knows a yummy treat is coming), I leave the Kong, she starts eating, I close the door and putter around for a couple more minutes, but then when I actually head toward the door she barks. Like...LOUD, demanding, barks that actually scare the crap out of me with how loud and sudden they are. So I ignore it, leave anyway, and sometimes stand outside the door and listen to her bark for a few minutes.



I assume she stops eventually because when I get home after such escapades, the Kong is empty and she seems fine, like she's been sleeping. But...do you think she does this because she's trying to manipulate me into...something? Or because she's developing separation anxiety? The latter scares me to death because SA, if she develops it, is a deal-breaker for me--I won't be able to keep her if she has SA because I have a full-time job and she MUST be able to be alone for up to 8 hours per day.



What should I do? Keep doing this routine and hope she eventually gets used to it? Just so you know, yes, she is always walked just before this (and poops and pees) so I know she doesn't have to go to the bathroom. She is fed, she has had water (I don't leave water in the crate). She is still wearing the inflatable doggy donut to keep her from licking her spay stitches (which come out tomorrow), so maybe that's throwing her off? But she sleeps in her crate just fine at night, never whines at all...and it's in a different room from me.



Any insight would be appreciated. I know that I overthink everything and worry a lot about doing right by this dog, and maybe she's picking up on that. All of my friends are telling me I'm worrying unnecessarily but I can't help it. I just dread that I'm going to come home one day and she'll have broken her teeth trying to get out of the crate, or killed herself somehow in panic.



Am I a Type A, somewhat control-freaky, anxious person? YES....I already know that. :-)

Last edited by banzai555; 10-10-2019 at 10:52 AM.
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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I also wonder if part of this is because she's still on very limited exercise because of the spay. She does get a 20-minute walk in the morning, but it's on-leash and pretty low-key. Usually in the afternoons, after work, I would take her on a 45-minute to an hour, part off-leash walk through the park where she can run and run and run and tire herself out. Obviously she can't do that for at least another week or so (will ask the vet when she gets her stitches taken out tomorrow)....
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 11:12 AM
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Sounds to me like you are doing A LOT right! You definitely aren't a softie. In terms of her barking when you leave, walk out and don't look back. It will stop. If she senses she is getting your attention, she will continue it.

On a side note, because I kind of have a feeling you would love to check on her, I have a Blink camera on my crate that I can quickly view from my phone. Really cheap on Amazon (they own Blink).
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Really? Thanks...that makes me feel better. I'll look into the Blink camera.

Also it's looking like she is fear-aggressive (with strangers, not with me), and she generally just seems to be afraid of a lot of stuff. We have a lot we need to work on, but it's part of why I'm constantly worried I'm not doing things right--there's so much contradictory information out there about everything from correction to counter-conditioning to desensitization. I wish my dog weren't so freaking anxious all the time--and my own anxious personality certainly isn't helping, though I'm working on it. I feel like I'm toeing a thin line between getting her to trust me by being calm and compassionate, and enforcing the rules (which if I do wrong or too forcefully, will send her cowering into her crate as if I've just beaten her).

Ugh. This is hard.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by banzai555 View Post
Really? Thanks...that makes me feel better. I'll look into the Blink camera.

Also it's looking like she is fear-aggressive (with strangers, not with me), and she generally just seems to be afraid of a lot of stuff. We have a lot we need to work on, but it's part of why I'm constantly worried I'm not doing things right--there's so much contradictory information out there about everything from correction to counter-conditioning to desensitization. I wish my dog weren't so freaking anxious all the time--and my own anxious personality certainly isn't helping, though I'm working on it. I feel like I'm toeing a thin line between getting her to trust me by being calm and compassionate, and enforcing the rules (which if I do wrong or too forcefully, will send her cowering into her crate as if I've just beaten her).

Ugh. This is hard.
Absolutely, all the things you listed and are working on are things SO many people don't correct. You have the right attitude, you aren't afraid to say no and you know what needs to be fixed and wants to.

My last dog had fear aggression. Has she bit anyone? It was horrible for me, most of the time you could see it coming, but sometimes I was not quick enough. He would woof low, not bark, circle the person and then bite them in the a$$. Usually overweight strange men. Keep an eye on that. I wish I had a trainer help me with that.
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 11:55 AM
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The only thing that stands out to me is that you’ve only had her for 2 months. Take a breath and relax. Just be consistent and fair. She’s trying to figure things out too.

~ Diane ~

CARLY ......... Ch. Lauremi's No Reservations (AKC GCh pointed, HIC)
SCARLET ..... Lauremi's Almost Wasn't (AKC pointed)
and absent friends... SAGE ~ Lauremi's Whim Z v Jakmar ~ AKC major ptd, HIC ~ 2010-2015
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Frisco19 View Post
My last dog had fear aggression. Has she bit anyone? It was horrible for me, most of the time you could see it coming, but sometimes I was not quick enough. He would woof low, not bark, circle the person and then bite them in the a$$. Usually overweight strange men. Keep an eye on that. I wish I had a trainer help me with that.
She hasn't bitten anyone yet. Here is what she does:

1. She barks and lunges at people *sometimes* during walks, and I'm trying to counter-condition with treats (I have her look at me before she reacts, click, and treat). She has done this before and after her spay. If the person has a well-behaved dog on a leash, she couldn't care less about the person. She loves dogs.

2. I've brought her to my office a couple of times and when someone comes in, she'll low growl until I tell her to quit or until I "introduce" her to the person. My tall male coworker walked in one morning like he owned the place---because he did---while she was lying beside me and she jumped to her feet barking and jumping like she was in full panic mode (hackles way up). I had her come back to me and lie down, and she calmed down but she stared at my coworker until he left (he had just come in to print something).

That same day, she had posted herself at the office door, keeping watch. A tall male coworker passed by and she growled at him, and he stopped and looked at her and talked to her, and she didn't run away but stood there, hackles up, growling at him. There was a baby gate between them. As soon as he walked away, she REALLY lunged at the baby gate as if she wanted to get at him. I yelled "No" and she came back to me. After that, I prohibited her from posting watch at the door and made her stay beside me.

This was 1 week after her spay.

3. One morning on a walk, a neighbor lady came up to us and put her hand out for Willow to sniff. She did, and didn't bite, but it was clear she didn't feel comfortable. The moment the lady turned to walk away, Willow jumped forward and snapped at her back (didn't touch her but her intentions were clear). I immediately corrected her, told her "No" and had her sit and look at me. That one was only 4 days after her spay.

So yeah. Probably fodder for another thread, and I have talked about this in another thread....and we've had 2 sessions with a trainer (before her spay). I had houseguests over for a weekend, 5 days after the spay, and she was mostly fine with them, though I could tell she was stressed when they were moving around the house. The initial introduction (outside on the lawn) was a little tense. She did the same snapping at their backs a time or two when they would get up to leave, but when they were sitting on the couch she was happy to let them pet her and give her treats. She does snap at my hands sometimes but usually when she's excited about something (I've never felt it's because she's being aggressive).
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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The only thing that stands out to me is that you’ve only had her for 2 months. Take a breath and relax. Just be consistent and fair. She’s trying to figure things out too.

Yeah...and part of this is me trying to nip bad behaviors in the bud, keep them from getting worse. But yeah, I've asked a lot from this dog--it hasn't been an easy transition.



I got her August 26...August 30th she went into heat for 3 weeks....2 weeks after her cycle ended, she got spayed. So nothing has been exactly "normal" since I got her. Certainly not how I would have liked to do things, but the timing of all of this has just sucked and it was outside of my control (I guess I could have waited longer to get her spayed). I'm trying really hard to keep to a routine, keep things calm, and she's generally really good at home, though the main issue now is I can tell she wants to do fun things like hiking and running again...and I just can't let her until she's healed. *frustration!!!!!!*

Last edited by banzai555; 10-10-2019 at 12:15 PM.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 12:09 PM
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I don't think she's manipulating you...
in my personal opinion/experience, I think dogs are more simple than that. They do what is rewarding for them.

For instance, my dog will lie down off to the side when I'm cooking. He learned that if he lies there and doesn't come nosing around my legs or the counter, I might drop him a little tidbit. But he'll never get a thing out of me if he's bugging me. In general, I try to reward the behavior I like, and then he will do more of the behavior I like. He is a simple guy...

For being afraid of stuff...I think just going out and about with you, helps a lot. My dog (adopted at 5) was a rather tense guy on leash, but through sheer exposure and time spent just going here and there, sniffing at this and that, watching this person go by and that person blow leaves, passing hundreds of dogs, etc, he's become one of the calmer dogs you will see out there. Yesterday I had to drop my daughter at the mall to meet friends, so I brought Rumo and we walked around in the outside mall area after dropoff. I got us a bottle of water and we sat there and both had a drink (he drank out of a paper hotdog tray). We sniffed around in the petshop at the next strip, bought 3 beef tracheas, drove home. Then he took a nap and I did some more work.

Computer cord reaction: Seems normal? Bad/scary makes a deep impression on my dog too! He got a static shock by the kitchen trashcan (being petted by husband) and he wouldn't go by the trashcan for about 3 days after that.

Food extortion: Well, wet food won't kill her :-) But yes, I agree she is "holding out" to see if you have anything better. You can give in, or not give in...I add freshly cooked meat 'toppers" (few spoonful) to my dog's food frequently just because I like him to have stuff that tastes good. (I admit he's spoiled)

Barking at departure: She's getting attached to you...I think you're handling it well. Not giving in, is good!

I'm just a pet dog owner but I think you're doing well!
It does get easier!

Rumo ~ rescue shepherd/husky mix
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Food extortion: Well, wet food won't kill her :-) But yes, I agree she is "holding out" to see if you have anything better. You can give in, or not give in...I add freshly cooked meat 'toppers" (few spoonful) to my dog's food frequently just because I like him to have stuff that tastes good. (I admit he's spoiled)
....

I'm just a pet dog owner but I think you're doing well!
It does get easier!

Haha, yeah, I'm holding out for probably silly reasons: I love to hike and backpack and dry food is a lot easier--and lighter!--to have to carry around for 10+ miles per day! I put wet food in her Kong, so I'm also trying to separate those two things, keep the wet food to use as a higher-value treat. And also wet food is more expensive. :-)



Thanks for the encouragement. I just hope she's not working herself into a frenzy in her crate. I have no reason to think she is, I just don't want that behavior to develop.

Last edited by banzai555; 10-10-2019 at 01:08 PM.
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