Is there hope for my fearful aggressive puppy? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
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Is there hope for my fearful aggressive puppy?

Hi,
I have a 7 month old gsd that we rescued when he was 3.5 months old. His story is that he was abandoned by his first family because he got sick. He was on the streets with parvo before he got picked up. After being treated his original family tried to take him back but the rescue refused. He was placed in a foster home for 2 weeks. Then we met him and took him home.
Once we took him home he exhibited fear to noises, toys, balls, anything with wheels, didn't like fast movement and cowered from strangers and dogs. I would try to take him on walks and if he heard a dog barking in the distance he would freeze and grind his teeth. Constantly looking around and seeing whats behind him. He was/still is a little terrified of cars driving by. He couldn't walk past people without freezing up and trying to jump in the bushes. Nevertheless, we remained hopeful that he would change for the better with a stable home, exercise and obedience training.
We took him to puppy playtime with a trainer. He hid under a chair and snapped at any dog that would approach even if they came calmly. The trainer assured us that he would come out of his shell eventually. He never did. We did two six week obedience courses with him. He excelled once he got over being around other dogs and people. Took him about 3 weeks. We also did agility with him to build his confidence. He had to observe for two weeks before he felt comfortable being around trainers (he won't let them pet him) and new group of dogs and people.
In the meantime I have used positive reinforcement and a prong collar on our walks. He can walk by people and dogs, doesn't grind his teeth as much. He walks nicely on a leash. He still doesn't like runners, tries to get away from them. Has a problem with people walking behind us, he just doesn't like it. Nipping has gone down, we took care of food aggression and can remove things from his mouth without a problem.
Through out this period of slow improvement there has been setbacks. He snapped at my neighbor's 7 yr old son. He is uncomfortable around the neighborhood's kids. He occasionally snaps at my daughter when she sits calmly next to him and wants to pet him. He snapped at a man at the dog park. Snapped at the trainer mentioned above. (No bad occurrences at the dog park but he still doesn't want anything to do with dogs). He barks at my kids' friends (we don't allow them over anymore).
Just this week he attacked two small dogs on different occasions. During one of those occasions he almost bit my other dog (white gsd) who was calmly standing next to him as he went crazy on the little dog. I have decided not to let him meet any dog and no more dog park visits because his behavior is unpredictable. He sometimes snaps at me when I correct him with a firm NO!
He is destroying my yard and barks aggressively at my neighbors annoying little dogs who also bark crazy. I try to get him to exercise but he gets bored with fetch after a few throws and does not like running with me. I am literally running faster than him and pulling him along and I don't run very fast! The only thing he likes to do is wrestle with my other dog.
MY FEAR is that he will become aggressive with people, kids and all dogs overtime like he has with little dogs. My older gsd is a sweetheart, loves to be pet, loves kids, gets along with all dogs even yappy little ones. Everyone comments on how friendly and well behaved she is. He is the complete opposite, he doesn't even really want to be pet. I've trained him to tolerate us petting him but he doesn't enjoy it like my other dog.
A dog behaviorist is coming over to help us but I feel like I've reached the end of my rope. I thought I would have an exercise buddy, a friend for my first dog, and a pet for my kids to love on. Instead, I have an anti-social dog who would rather use his pent up energy to bark and dig, is scared of noises like my daughter dragging her feet, who also uses my first dog as his personal chew toy and who I have to watch very closely everytime we go on a walk.
I guess my question is, should I keep trying with this dog or return him to the rescue?
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 07:01 PM
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What this dog needs is a few weeks or months of a quiet,low key life.Two ob classes,an agility class,dog parks,and on and on...
Your heart was in the right place but I think he is just overwhelmed.If he isn't a good fit for your family's active lifestyle rehoming him may be best IMO.

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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 08:01 PM
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Is there hope for my fearful aggressive puppy?

I agree with dogma. Your dog has boundaries, and you're pushing them constantly because you're expecting him to be something he's not. He isn't confident, he isn't calm, and he certainly isn't friendly with strange people or dogs. But at the end of the day, he is still just a dog who wants to live his life happily.

You need to work with what you have, not what you want. He will always need to be managed in certain ways, and you need to build his confidence. He needs to learn his boundaries in your house, and you need to respect his outside of it. For some reason people think that exposing their dog to more will fix things, but generally all it does it push them over the edge and make things worse. As someone has said on here before, I can't imagine getting over my fear of spiders by having someone dump spiders on me. It would probably make it worse.

I would recommend finding a trainer who understands fear aggressive dogs, and preferably one with GSD experience. That way you learn how to manage him better to make both of your lives happier and more fulfilled. But if that's not an option, then I recommend giving him back to the rescue.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 09:10 PM
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Your children deserve a normal life.

Not being able to have friends over because you have an aggressive dog, and possibly witnessing serious dog fights and injuries, is not good for your kids.

We want to save all the dogs. But when there are kids involved, I don't think that is necessarily the right thing to do. If this puppy is snapping at your daughter when she is not being threatening, I think you should really try to find a home without children, with an experienced dog person for this dog before it has a bite history.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-13-2017, 12:23 AM
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As long as the dog does not have "brain damage" there is always hope. But this particular puppy carries a lot of baggage and he would be best off, with a more experienced owner with a less busy life style.

It can be done but ... while I don't think it's hard, you have kids and I do not. It's still doable but there is that. You'd have to "more" good choices for him. And not screwing around with other dogs is always in my book a good choice. I don't know how he managed to attack two little dogs?? So something went wrong there?

The goods news thus far is he has not bitten anyone. Life would be simpler if returning him to the shelter is a viable option for you??? You did your part when you got him out of the situation he was originally in!

There is no harm in choosing that option although, it will still be hard ... I would imagine. Still you have a "Behaviorist" coming ... so your still undecided ... but if your getting outside help it would be best to chose wisely. If "I" were to actually hire outside help ... LOL. "I" would ask two questions ... "Do you train Place" and do you use treats with dogs with people issues??

If they said to the first question ... "What is that" and to the second (treats) but of course I use treats for dogs with people issues?? I'd thank them for there time and say ... "there's the dog" and keep trying.

Those would be my personnel standards others views ...most likely differ. Welcome aboard sorry it's a bumpy ride.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-13-2017, 06:16 PM
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I think the opinions of your dog behaviorist are much better informed than mine, maybe try them out first and listen to what they have to say? Also I think you have tried very hard for this dog, kudos to all your effort! I am sorry this is not working out for you.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-13-2017, 07:10 PM
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I think the opinions of your dog behaviorist are much better informed than mine, maybe try them out first and listen to what they have to say? Also I think you have tried very hard for this dog, kudos to all your effort! I am sorry this is not working out for you.
Most likely ... that is a reasonable "assumption" I suppose???

I make no such assumptions myself, despite the issues the OP has had in dealing with this particular "rescue." At this point, the dog has not actually bitten anyone. Bad advise from a "Behaviorist" could quickly change that situation!

I'd ask a lot of freaking questions and they key one's I listed. I want to see there clients dogs and I'd want to see the "behaviorist dog" and how there dog is with kids. Show me, is how I roll but I don't have kids.

One has to get paying for help right or they could find themselves here anyway.:

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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 02:52 PM
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How did the visit with the behaviorist go? I'd love to hear an update!

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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 03:34 PM
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At this point, the dog has not actually bitten anyone. Bad advise from a "Behaviorist" could quickly change that situation!
And so can bad advice from well meaning people on the internet.

I know you've dealt with a GSD with people issues Chip... But have you dealt with legit fear aggression?

Fear aggression is a whole 'nother ball game. I would take a dominant aggressive dog over a fear aggressive dog any day of the week.

Sorry about "Place" and "Treat training"... I found the dreaded "treat training" to be VERY helpful in the desensitizing process with my fearful dog. Less for the training aspect and more for gauging how the dog was handling the situation. He wasn't going to eat a treat when he was fearful or anxious. Using physical correction for him were often a no-go. As for place... Yeah, putting my fearful dog into a long down stay would have been a sure fire way for his anxiety to build. He did MUCH better when given the freedom to extract himself from an uncomfortable situation. No need to train place, just put the dog up in their nice, quiet, secure, crate in a unused part of the house while guests are over...

There is no "cure" for fear aggression. You'll never be able to fully trust a fear aggressive dog. They need a great deal of LIFE STYLE MANAGEMENT and acceptance of their quirks to succeed.

It doesn't sound like the OP has the type of lifestyle that would suit a fearful dog. I agree with the suggestions of others to return the dog to the rescue so they can place it with a more suitable family. Lots of quiet child free homes out there capable of managing a dog like this.

OP - if you are still on the fence about what to do, there are two books I found very helpful "Help for your shy dog" by Deborah Wood and "The Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell PhD. The first is inspirational the second more how-to.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 06:02 PM
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And so can bad advice from well meaning people on the internet.

I know you've dealt with a GSD with people issues Chip... But have you dealt with legit fear aggression?

Fear aggression is a whole 'nother ball game. I would take a dominant aggressive dog over a fear aggressive dog any day of the week.

Sorry about "Place" and "Treat training"... I found the dreaded "treat training" to be VERY helpful in the desensitizing process with my fearful dog. Less for the training aspect and more for gauging how the dog was handling the situation. He wasn't going to eat a treat when he was fearful or anxious. Using physical correction for him were often a no-go. As for place... Yeah, putting my fearful dog into a long down stay would have been a sure fire way for his anxiety to build. He did MUCH better when given the freedom to extract himself from an uncomfortable situation. No need to train place, just put the dog up in their nice, quiet, secure, crate in a unused part of the house while guests are over...

There is no "cure" for fear aggression. You'll never be able to fully trust a fear aggressive dog. They need a great deal of LIFE STYLE MANAGEMENT and acceptance of their quirks to succeed.

It doesn't sound like the OP has the type of lifestyle that would suit a fearful dog. I agree with the suggestions of others to return the dog to the rescue so they can place it with a more suitable family. Lots of quiet child free homes out there capable of managing a dog like this.

OP - if you are still on the fence about what to do, there are two books I found very helpful "Help for your shy dog" by Deborah Wood and "The Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell PhD. The first is inspirational the second more how-to.
Oh well, feel free to "assume" away.

Training "Place" is part of a "Process" no one said one starts there??? And you say LIFE STYLE MANAGEMENT and I say MAKE GOOD CHOICES FOR YOUR DOG, potato-potato??

If people chose to use "Treats" with dogs with people issues?? They are free to do so. Use of treats is not a part of my "Zero Bite Policy." No less than Micheal Ellis ... pointed out to me something I already knew ... instinctively.

And yes "Rocky " was my test bed for my "Zero Bite Policy" but he was not my "Proof of Concept" that would be Tic Tac Toe, a fear of people Boxer. And I worked with him in absolutely the worst environment possible! Rescue day event lots of dogs lots of people and he did great! So well in fact that save for one incident when someone "broke my 5 foot bubble" to pet him by stepping in while I was pondering, "My I Pet???" I would have sworn ... this dog has no people issues?? And I'd have been wrong!

As soon as JQP broke my "Bubble" TTT pressed against me and I looked down and his eyes were big as saucers! That was it my hand went out stop "we are in training" and we were outta there! He showed me how he felt at being approached by a stranger and I took him at his word. I was not willing to use "treats" to convince him, he was wrong??? Others are of course free to do as they see fit. And if I'd have had him longer ... then he would have been trained in "Place" in order to help him cope with doing "Nothing." But no one said training "Place" is where one "Starts???"

And I'll match Patricia McConnell PhD, with "Nicole Wilde" pretty much the same advise as in Leerburghs "Who Pets my Puppy or Dog" note the lack of treats, in either approach, link number three.

Every trainer I link to, also deals with dogs with serious issues ... trains "Place!" Good enough for me, if others feel they don't need to train "Place" also?? Good enough ... they aren't "That Guy or Girl" as I am want to say. Those that are my audience get me, and those that aren't ,can "Find a Trainer."

And for the record ... I've never said anything about "cured??" But with "Good Choices" by an owner with a dog with issues, the level of "stress" for the dog and owner will go down, if an owner "Shows The Dog What They Want" and how they expect them to behave. Which for me is "Do nothing dog" when faced with stress, but that has to be taught first, nuff said.
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