Just aquired a 1yr old GSD, here are my problems. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 02:33 AM Thread Starter
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Just aquired a 1yr old GSD, here are my problems.

Hello all,

I've recently aquired a 1 year old (this month) male GSD who is intact. That's all the info I have on him. I got him on the 15th of this month. He knows sit, shake, and he knows how to recall. That is until another dog is around.

The problems I am having are his leash manners (pulling) and him being reactive to other dogs.

Lets start with the pulling. I've been trying to work positively with him with the stop and go/ changing direction methods. But when we get outside he is not very treat motivated. He will lost interest in after a few treats. Inside he loves them. I've been through 4 different bags of treats to find this one that hes interested in. So far I've got him to at least come back to me after stopping and saying "aaht aaht" or "no". But as soon as I take a step he's got tension on the leash again. Our walks have not been good for exercise to say the least.

Now with the dog reactivity. Once he senses another dog all bets are off and hes lunging and barking until they are out of site. I've read that I shouldn't pull on the leash or yell at him when this happens or it will make it worse. So I've stood there and just watched him to see if he'll get tired of it (he doesn't) or I'll try to keep moving telling him to "come on" in a higher pitched voice like I do when he stops when I don't want to. Of course when I try to keep moving I am having to pull.

I know I haven't had him very long and he does at least come back to me now when I stop. But I have seen no progress in the dog reactivity and there is almost always other dogs out when I walk him. Which I have to do frequently since my back "yard" is a patio with a very small grass area (which he won't go potty in). I'm worried about neighbors being afraid of him since he is pretty big.

I was thinking of trying out the classes at a local petsmart. But with him being reactive to other dogs I don't know how that would work out.

I've been reading up on the prong collar as well. Which doesn't seem as bad as I originally thought. If this were to work as well as it does for others then it could greatly help with both problems at the same time.

If neither of these were to help, then I would call a more professional, more expensive trainer to help out.

Just looking for some input from more experienced dog folk. It seems most people have these issues addressed at an early age so this doesn't happen. Guess the previous owner never got around to it. I appreciate any input. Thanks.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 02:44 AM
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1 year is not too old.

Loose leash walking is a walk in progress. I would advise you to google or search youtube for "Loose leash walking" training tips.

Treats are good as an incentive, but its the owner's reaction, methodology which matters most.

Frequent stopping, turning, when ever you feel the least bit of tension on the leash. Getting the dog's attention when you are walking with him, etc are important points.

Also, when you are training your dog (and yourself) to walk on a loose leash, please make sure you are going for a walk with your dog, not for grocery shopping, not for anything else.

Also, your dog is naturally protective. When he sees another dog, there is bound to be a response. You can counteract, by showing him you are the leader of his pack. Stay calm, collected. Your dog cant understand your human language, but he sure can read your body language. Trust me, body language is the most key thing here.

When my wife sees a dog coming from the distance, she is hesitant and thinks about moving to the other side of the road. Naturally my pup reacts badly. Whereas, I am calm, keep talking to who ever is walking with me, ignore the other dog. But I do give the leash a tug or two to make sure the pup knows I am here and in charge.

My pup never lunges at the other dog.

Its a work in progress, loose leash walking and a calm demeanor is attained from a long period of learning for both owner and dog. I am sure you will succeed.

Please keep in mind there are no "magic shortcuts". Prong collars are great, but not the magic solution. Its you ... and how you train your dog.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 02:51 AM
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Definitely contact a trainer. Preferably one that is used to working with large, tough, working breeds. Contact any schutzhund or GSD breed clubs in your area first and see if they recommend a trainer. Try any AKC type clubs in your areas and ask for trainers that deal with dog aggressive/reactive dogs. Petsmart would be my last resort, but you could find someone good there as well. It really depends though.
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I recommend the prong collar. Great tool if used correctly. Find a trainer that can help you use it correctly. There are some Leerberg videos and articles about the proper use of a prong collar as well.

He's a strong male, coming into his hormones and hasn't had the proper foundation work. I believe you will have to use more compulsion in your training. Again, contact a trainer first if you can.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 03:29 AM
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Just a suggestion: try walking him around the house on a leash and giving him treats. Than wein(?) him off them while on the leash as you gain more control.

Remember keep training secessions short.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input!

I know the prong collar is merely a tool and can easily become a crutch. It's something I don't want to resort to as I want to keep all the training positive. But when we go for a walk there is almost always another dog we run into and after the resulting episode hes all worked up and the rest of the walk is pretty much a wash for training.

As for petsmart, I know the training offered is usually considered lower quality. I was thinking maybe the socialization with other dogs during class would help. If we could get the reactivity to stop at all first.

I will work on the leash training in the house and see how it works out. We've been working on the heel position in the house and he's coming along quite well in a short time with that position. We just haven't gotten it going on the move yet. I think I'll focus on the loose leash first though.

I'll definitely look into any of the clubs/groups mentioned and see who they recommend. Thanks.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 04:30 AM
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My puppy does that sometimes, this huge bark comes out and she pulls and stands up and down. What has worked well for me is to redirect her focus. Turn her the other direction. Also training her. Keeping her mind busy, along with physical exercise. 1 is still a puppy and he probably didn't get all of that ground setting training.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 07:06 AM
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i wouldn't go to PetSmart for training. i would find a
trainer or maybe a trainer/behavorist. thanks
for rescuing and good luck.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Zenkai View Post
Thanks for the input!

As for petsmart, I know the training offered is usually considered lower quality. I was thinking maybe the socialization with other dogs during class would help. If we could get the reactivity to stop at all first.
The key word here is USUALLY. I had an amazing trainer at Petsmart. She is very well known everywhere. Do some research, go talk to a couple trainers, and see a couple different classes. It sounds like you want to start out slowly, socialization first, which IMO is very important. Good Luck!!

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 09:09 AM
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Just my 2 cents,,I agree wth finding a trainer, but since youve only had him for about a week? I'd give him a couple more weeks to just 'adjust' to his new home and work on bonding with him more.

Hand feeding him his meals is a great way to start..I may have missed what your using for treats to reward, but I would find something HIGH quality, like hotdogs, string cheese, (I use frozen italian meatballs, nuke a few, squeeze out the juice cut up into small pieces),,and save those for just "training'

Good luck with him!

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 09:49 AM
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For a trainer, since you are dealing with dog reactivity, look for a trainer/behaviorist that has growly dog classes or even consider a private class for a while. Meanwhile, watch your dog's body language when he sees another dog. You'll need this information for yourself and when you talk with trainers in your search. Look for body stance, how he holds his ears, hackles, his eyes (they can give so much away), facial muscles around his mouth and eyes. Watch closely because all these muscle changes can happen in seconds sometimes. Once you recognize his cues, begin redirecting him at the FIRST cue you see. Use treats, favorite squeaky toy, no tension on the leash, and walk the other way.

Prong collars are good tools. However, in some cases such as this, it can ramp up the reaction you are seeing. I would hesitate to begin using one until after its determined what you are dealing with. I know with Woolf, a FA dog, I only began recently to use a prong collar for that reason.

Woolf was a nightmare to begin with on leash. I finally backed way up from walking him anywhere and just walked him in the backyard, first in a square shape, then just random, using quick turns, sudden direction changes, he didn't have a choice but to keep his eye on me which meant he had to stay close

Take the next month and just get to know your dog. He's only been with you for a week, lots of play - tug, fetch - build the bond. During this time, look for a trainer/behaviorist that has LOTS of experience with GSD.

Congratulations on your new pup
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