Dog aggressive...Need advice - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Dog aggressive...Need advice

Barrett, who is 4 now, has a pretty high level of dog aggression, especially toward dogs on leashes. He has now attacked 3 different dogs while the owners were walking by with their dogs.

Before I get flamed for not having my dog under control, I take full responsibility for the incidents. Two times, the gate was open and I just didn't realize it. The other incident was a friend leaving the gate open. He has a Golden, so it didn't even occur to him. But still, my dog, my responsibility.

He is obsessive about chasing things. From shadows caused by birds and bugs, to squirles, cats and airplanes flying over. He doesn't hurt the dogs when he attacks, but it sure looks like he's going to and it scares the dog walker to death

So, I desperately need some ideas for training methods that will stop his aggression towards other dogs Other than this issue, he's pretty spot on with everything else.

Dog in question for you picture lovers
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 02:39 PM
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Have you been working with a trainer or behaviourist? I'd start there and get professional help that can physically be there to work with you

He's very handsome, I'm glad you're willing to work with his issues and hopefully it will pay off.

Shanna

My Pack:

Jasmine - Female Miniature Poodle - born Aug 15, 2010
Loker Delgado Von Stalworth - Male GSD - born Jan 26, 2012
Koda & Zazu - 7 year old male cats
Alex - Male Cocker Spaniel (rescue) - RIP Cuddlebug 2007-2010
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 02:44 PM
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Very nice picture

Is this a training issue or a management issue? I know that most people with dogs that are aggressive to other dogs just keep them away from them. What exactly do you want to train your dog to do? I don't think you'll ever train him to be friendly to other dogs. The most you can hope for, IME, is to train him to ignore them. And each time he's had the opportunity to confront them (mistake, but still...) is a setback.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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Have you been working with a trainer or behaviourist? I'd start there and get professional help that can physically be there to work with you

He's very handsome, I'm glad you're willing to work with his issues and hopefully it will pay off.
No, not yet. I will consult one if necessary, but I'm hoping to correct the problem myself if at all possible.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Very nice picture

Is this a training issue or a management issue? I know that most people with dogs that are aggressive to other dogs just keep them away from them. What exactly do you want to train your dog to do? I don't think you'll ever train him to be friendly to other dogs. The most you can hope for, IME, is to train him to ignore them. And each time he's had the opportunity to confront them (mistake, but still...) is a setback.
It seems like an odd behavior to me because he's not really a very aggressive dog. Not even to other dogs once they've met. Most of the time he'd rather play. But, when they are walking by on the leash, his first instinct is to attack. Almost as if he's establishing dominance, or perhaps protecting the property. I have no doubt that after the attack is over, he'd have no problems running around and playing with the other dog.

I would be happy if he would just ignore other dogs.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 02:53 PM
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OK, two websites that can get you started.

BAT (Behaviour Adjustment Training)

Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) | Official site for BAT: dog-friendly training for reactivity (aggression, fear, frustration) by Grisha Stewart, MA

LAT (Look at That)

Leslie McDevitt: Control Unleashed®: Home Page

I would still encourage even getting a consultation from a professional to try and pinpoint the cause. One or two sessions could be invaluable

Shanna

My Pack:

Jasmine - Female Miniature Poodle - born Aug 15, 2010
Loker Delgado Von Stalworth - Male GSD - born Jan 26, 2012
Koda & Zazu - 7 year old male cats
Alex - Male Cocker Spaniel (rescue) - RIP Cuddlebug 2007-2010
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 03:10 PM
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First as you say you must work on improving your dog management skills like keeping your gate closed and making sure everyone around you knows their responsibilities. People being what they are, you have a four legged lawsuit and citation waiting to happen unfortunately.
A trainer can help teach you off lead recalls. Enough that (maybe) you can call him back from chasing or intercepting another animal. You won't be successful if your dog is really high prey drive and doesn't respect you. You can train in the presence of other dogs to desensitize him to them, and you can arrange positive socializing sessions with other dogs. Your trainer might recommend using tools such as an e-collar to reinforce your commands off lead. I recommend a large fenced in training area where access to other dogs can be controlled yet still allow your dog to learn how to behave himself off lead at a distance from you.

And I would like to add like others have mentioned, if your adult dog shows aggression towards other dogs, don't expect to turn him into a social butterfly around other dogs.

Last edited by StephenV; 04-30-2013 at 03:15 PM.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Shade View Post
OK, two websites that can get you started.

BAT (Behaviour Adjustment Training)

Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) | Official site for BAT: dog-friendly training for reactivity (aggression, fear, frustration) by Grisha Stewart, MA

LAT (Look at That)

Leslie McDevitt: Control Unleashed®: Home Page

I would still encourage even getting a consultation from a professional to try and pinpoint the cause. One or two sessions could be invaluable.
I agree with everything in the quoted post. First, management so it doesn't happen again. A practiced behavior just becomes stronger. Second, get someone in who can help you determine the motivation behind the "attacks" so you can better go about correcting it. BAT and LAT are great resources to work with.

Jamie

Raven (GSD) - December 8, 2007
Kaiser (GSD) - November 2009
Holly (GSD) - March 24, 2011

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 04:49 PM
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I had this same issue with my dog. I took him to a trainer that kept him for 5 weeks. He was a completely new dog when he came home. First thing I would suggest is to buy a metal prong collar. Some people think it's mean to use these because they look scary but they do not hurt the dogs at all. I swear by this collar! Second, take him for walks around other dogs that are also on leashes. When he starts to go toward them, tell him to leave it and bring his attention back to you. It can be a very long process to do this including many walks and a lot of you saying " leave it" but eventually he will get the point. You are in control, not him. When you tell him to leave it, give a slight pull on his leash toward you. At some point, you can start working with him off leash. My dog despises cats but if I tell him to leave it, he listens. Honestly, I never thought I'd see that day. He was very aggressive with them. He'd still like to eat them for a snack but if I call him off, he listens. Also, I would suggest that you train him to not go out of your gate in the case that it gets left open by accident. They can learn to stay in their territory by leading him around your property on leash and showing him the "do not cross" lines. Give him treats often when he does what is asked of him. I hope this helps....Good luck!

Last edited by GSDmommy11; 04-30-2013 at 04:52 PM.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the comments and I will check out those links that shade posted.

Yes, better management is in order, but I want to feel more secure in case mismanagement occurs.

I have no doubt that I could recall him if I were there. All 3 times was when I wasn't around, which unfortunately is why the events occurred.

+1 to the 4 legged lawsuit waiting to happen. The first incident was particularly scary for me since it was an elderly lady that fell down during the scuffle. Her screaming brought the entire neighborhood outside. She sprained her wrist, but lucky for me, she refused any medical attention. I visited her later in her home to express my sorrow, concern and to let her know that I would gladly take care of any of her or her dog's medical bills. Lucky for me, she was scare more than hurt. Probably only slightly more scared than I was.

I do use a pronged collar and a e-collar when I'm training him. He behaves perfectly when I'm using either. In fact, I have no doubt that in my control, no restraint is needed at all. He minds very well when he's at heal and recalls very well too.

This is literally his only bad trait. Well, that and sloppy drinking, but I can live with that.

I agree with GSDmommy's suggestion of more(controlled) interaction with other dogs. I have already started training him to stay within the gate, even when it's open. All 3 incidents happened on the sidewalk in front of our property, but outside the gate. He is already picking up on that, but I know that right now, the temptation to chase a dog would be too great for him. At least if I'm not around. I don't think he would consider it if I was around, but I haven't found anybody willing to be a Ginny Pig just yet

I'm not opposed to consulting a trainer, so it very well may come to that.

I might add that he becomes very protective of the family when he's on his leash as well. Not really overly aggressive, but definitely quick to warn people. Has anybody else experienced that?
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