Squirrel obsession, afraid she'll jump the fence or get hurt - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-26-2013, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Squirrel obsession, afraid she'll jump the fence or get hurt

My Zoey is doing pretty well after being with us for just a month. We have lots to work on still, basic obedience, nipping, barking like crazy when people come to the door and even once they are inside, etc, and are going to weekly group classes plus every other weekly one-on-one sessions with a trainer. (Next one on Monday, thank goodness.)

Most things I know what I need to do and that it will be just a matter of time but one has me stumped.

She is obsessed with squirrels. When we are on a walk we have a toy with us and we can redirect her to the toy which works well. But at home it's a different story.

The only way to the backyard is out the double patio doors in my office. There's 12 foot of patio doors to stare out into the yard where squirrels (and other critters) are frequent visitors. So this is where she spends most of her down time. She doesn't care about any of the birds but the squirrels make her crazy. She barks, rears up, paws the door, barks some more. If/when I let her out she races to the fence. But it's not enough to reach the fence, she throws herself at the fence, even if there are bushy branches in the way. (Not so many branches any more as she has broken them off.)

Without trying, she can reach within a foot of the top of the fence. Since she's aroused when she charges, she isn't thinking and I'm worried that the way she throws herself at the fence is going to cause her to get hurt. Plus she gets so close to the top. We're going to add another two feet of lattice top to help that but still, I don't think this is 100% healthy for her, is it?

On top of this, we are still trying to get her to let us know when she wants to go out for potty breaks. She's housebroke if you consider that we take her out regularly (she's about 15 months old) but she's shown no interest yet in learning to ring the bells like our last dog so we have to watch all the time. Which is fine. That's my job until she is trained. But this means that I don't feel like I can ignore her when she is barking or giving me the head turn to go out, even when it might mean she will chase a squirrel.

To top it off, this morning she rang barked and pawed the glass and I ignored her, deciding to not let her out. Then she rang the bell so I had to mark it and jump up and her out.

When we came back in I gave her a stuffed toy in a different room but as soon as that's gone, she'll be back in that room. And the house is a wide open floor plan and that's the room I'm in all day so I can't/don't want to try to block her from seeing out.

Any tips on how to approach this? Thanks.

Susan
~~~~~~~~
Zoey, white GSD, 9/1/11
(adopted 12/19/12 from German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California)
Cassie, GSD 11/26/07-12/13/12
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-26-2013, 01:39 PM
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I've a similar problem with my two. My fence is about 4 feet and they can easily scale it when they see a squirrel. I attempt to go out first, look around for those buggers and then let them out. I always keep a bag of treats handy in case they do jump and if they do I NEVER chase them; I run the other way, crinkling the bag of treats and calling their name. It's scary :c. I understand how you feel. I wish I could help more, but I'll definately be following this thread to see what others have to say...

I would also work on redirecting possibly with a high value treat...
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-26-2013, 02:29 PM
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Inside, keep her leashed and work on Leave It. Block her viewby covering the lower part of the windows. Take her out on leash and unleash her when she sits and all the squirrels have been warned.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-26-2013, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Yep, we're working on LEAVE IT and actually, later this morning when she attacked the patio door she actually settled herself back down again on a couple of instances when I asked her to LEAVE IT. So that was progress.

I haven't tried putting the leash on each time we go out when she wants to. The squirrels are long gone by the time I get to the door. We have high wires across two side of the fence and that's the squirrel highway.

Blocking the windows isn't really possible. I have expensive woven woods on the windows that I leave up all the time. (For me to see the garden and what is going on.) I'm afraid at this stage of the game, if I left them down, she'd tear them up. Plus in the adjoining room there are two huge picture windows that she can see out of just as well.

I know it will be a long, long process.

Susan
~~~~~~~~
Zoey, white GSD, 9/1/11
(adopted 12/19/12 from German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California)
Cassie, GSD 11/26/07-12/13/12
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