Problems with possession and focus - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Problems with possession and focus

Wow, been a while since I posted on this forum.. anyway
My 9 month old German Shepherd is very possessive of me and my family. No matter who is walking him he always barks/growls, whines, and lunges at other dogs, but if they're at a good distance from us he'll just stare until I've snapped him out of it. Then when I have him off leash and running around in a fenced area at the park he's fine with people passing by the fence with their dogs. When I'm walking him he's constantly on alert and it's very difficult to get his attention because his focus is literally all over the place. Whether using an e-collar, treats, or all my absolute enthusiasm I can't keep his attention for more than five seconds and it's become very frustrating. I can't get him to remain focused on me and listen for anything.
I was looking into this article on a method used by owners of stubborn huskies and the like that don't listen very well: https://www.snowdog.guru/using-the-u...th-your-husky/
The method makes sense and it seems like something that could work, but I'm not completely sure about using it with him
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 04:48 PM
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I think it's a good method to try. It is similar to what most people suggest with GSDs, except they include the part about tethering your dog to you while at home. I think a GSD will respond more quickly than a Husky might. What type of collar do you use generally on walks?

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 04:53 PM
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"My 9 month old German Shepherd is very possessive of me and my family. No matter who is walking him he always barks/growls, whines, and lunges at other dogs, but if they're at a good distance from us he'll just stare until I've snapped him out of it."
Not sure this is possessiveness? ...for my dog, who used to do the same thing, it was because he really really wanted to go meet & sniff with the other dog who was passing by, but he couldn't go over there because I was holding his leash...

"Then when I have him off leash and running around in a fenced area at the park he's fine with people passing by the fence with their dogs."
It sounds he generally likes other dogs then? He's probably happy because this time, he can go say Hi - no leash frustration...

"When I'm walking him he's constantly on alert and it's very difficult to get his attention because his focus is literally all over the place. Whether using an e-collar, treats, or all my absolute enthusiasm I can't keep his attention for more than five seconds and it's become very frustrating. I can't get him to remain focused on me and listen for anything."
I think this is normal. It is a very interesting world out there, especially if you are young!
Maybe train him to pay attention when he needs to, but I don't think he has to be watching you for the whole walk? Unless you are training an obedience champion (I bow down)


"I was looking into this article on a method used by owners of stubborn huskies and the like that don't listen very well"
I have a husky-shep mix. I think he listens ok! So funny that huskies get a bad rap by everybody. :-)
Seems like you could try it...why not!


So I am just a pet dog owner.
But we worked through this SAME issue using the "Look at Me" command before he gets all riled up at the other dog (sounds like your standing/staring phase, maybe) and then giving a series of treats.
We also have other nifty strategies like:
- stepping off sidewalk, walking conveniently behind parked cars, taking a little detour into the woods off the trail, etc - so we don't have to pass too closely
- I don't make the leash really short and tight, or pull him back hard. That made him rear up and growl and howl, and scare everybody to death!


It ain't perfect!
But at least now we can go on walks without constantly scanning the horizon for dogs.

Good luck...
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 06:30 PM
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PS- Umbilical tethering is interesting, found a bit more on the benefits (from a dog trainer's website)

(My dog follows me around constantly and I feel a bit smothered already, so I never tried this :-)



BENEFITS OF TETHERING:

Teaches your dog to follow you, rather than you follow the dog –
So often people bring a dog or a puppy into their house and let it go free and then spend their time chasing it around correcting it when it makes mistakes. This teaches your dog how to get your attention and how to make you follow – maybe by grabbing shoes, baby toys, toilet paper rolls, etc. (that sure does get them a lot of attention!). That’s a very reactive approach to dog training and boy, is it frustrating when you feel like you never get a chance to relax because you are constantly chasing around an out of control dog. I’d much prefer your dog learn to follow you around and take cues from you. That’s a proactive approach.


Creates awareness and attention –
If you get up and move without saying anything, the dog must follow you. This is a good habit to create.


Creates calmness –
The most important thing I do with dogs is help them find calm. Humans have countless ways to find calmness – meditation, exercise, pharmaceuticals, yoga, relaxation exercises – this is one of the best ways to help your dog find that same happy feeling of calmness. It teaches your dog to be still and to be calm. A hyper dog bouncing around the house will only wind themselves up more. If that is all they have ever known, tethering can reset that behavior pattern and show you and your dog a new way to respect the house. Save the excitement for the agility course, dog park, game of tug, or whatever your favorite high energy activity of choice is.


Creates self-discipline and impulse control –
When a dog can’t do whatever it wants to do all the time, it gains discipline and impulse control. Once it has these things, it has a much better chance of success when you cut the cord.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSDchoice View Post

We also have other nifty strategies like:
- stepping off sidewalk, walking conveniently behind parked cars, taking a little detour into the woods off the trail, etc - so we don't have to pass too closely
- I don't make the leash really short and tight, or pull him back hard. That made him rear up and growl and howl, and scare everybody to death!


It ain't perfect!
But at least now we can go on walks without constantly scanning the horizon for dogs.

Good luck...
Distance is your friend. Also, on leash remember to keep yourself calm and don't tighten the leash. That could signal your dog to get even more alert. If you could get someone to watch what you are doing, they may see something you are missing, like waiting too long to start redirecting or changing pace and direction, etc.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-12-2018, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
What type of collar do you use generally on walks?
I use a prong and e-collar
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-12-2018, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSDchoice View Post
"My 9 month old German Shepherd is very possessive of me and my family. No matter who is walking him he always barks/growls, whines, and lunges at other dogs, but if they're at a good distance from us he'll just stare until I've snapped him out of it."
Not sure this is possessiveness? ...for my dog, who used to do the same thing, it was because he really really wanted to go meet & sniff with the other dog who was passing by, but he couldn't go over there because I was holding his leash...

"Then when I have him off leash and running around in a fenced area at the park he's fine with people passing by the fence with their dogs."
It sounds he generally likes other dogs then? He's probably happy because this time, he can go say Hi - no leash frustration...

"When I'm walking him he's constantly on alert and it's very difficult to get his attention because his focus is literally all over the place. Whether using an e-collar, treats, or all my absolute enthusiasm I can't keep his attention for more than five seconds and it's become very frustrating. I can't get him to remain focused on me and listen for anything."
I think this is normal. It is a very interesting world out there, especially if you are young!
Maybe train him to pay attention when he needs to, but I don't think he has to be watching you for the whole walk? Unless you are training an obedience champion (I bow down)


"I was looking into this article on a method used by owners of stubborn huskies and the like that don't listen very well"
I have a husky-shep mix. I think he listens ok! So funny that huskies get a bad rap by everybody. :-)
Seems like you could try it...why not!


So I am just a pet dog owner.
But we worked through this SAME issue using the "Look at Me" command before he gets all riled up at the other dog (sounds like your standing/staring phase, maybe) and then giving a series of treats.
We also have other nifty strategies like:
- stepping off sidewalk, walking conveniently behind parked cars, taking a little detour into the woods off the trail, etc - so we don't have to pass too closely
- I don't make the leash really short and tight, or pull him back hard. That made him rear up and growl and howl, and scare everybody to death!


It ain't perfect!
But at least now we can go on walks without constantly scanning the horizon for dogs.

Good luck...
It's definitely not that he just wants to play. There's quite a difference between his "I want to play/friend!" bark and his alert bark. When he's excited and playing he has an adorable, high-pitched baby bark (he sounds a bit like a zebra sometimes!), but when he hears something out of the ordinary or a knock at the door or simply sees another dog out the window/on walks he starts the average deep bark you'd typically hear from a shepherd, along with some growling. Plus he'll usually stand or sit on my foot when another dog or person comes by, which is typically a sign of possessiveness.
He used to be alert about other dogs even off leash in the fenced area, but I think I was able to kick that habit with the e-collar. And he can be very friendly with other dogs once he's properly met them. He used to be wary of my Husky's two best friends at the park, but when they met in the fenced area he was happy to play with them. But for dogs he hasn't met he's like a kid yelling "Mom! Stranger danger!"

I actually do need him to be watching me haha! He's my service dog in training. When I take him on a simple exercise or potty walk then I let him be a dog and explore his surroundings, but when we're having a training session or his vest is on I try my best to keep his attention on me, but he's just so alert all the time.

Yeah, it's in a Husky's nature to be stubborn, but I think people exaggerate it a bit much sometimes! They seem to start to mature once they're around a year and a half.
Anyway, I suppose I will give it a shot then



Quote:
Originally Posted by car2ner View Post
Distance is your friend. Also, on leash remember to keep yourself calm and don't tighten the leash. That could signal your dog to get even more alert. If you could get someone to watch what you are doing, they may see something you are missing, like waiting too long to start redirecting or changing pace and direction, etc.
Yes, I do my best to pay attention to my mood and how I hold the leash
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2018, 09:30 PM
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Wow, as a service dog then you do need to take it seriously!

Maybe worth a private session with a trainer,
so they can observe him and see what his motivation is...
if you know WHY he's doing it, then you could figure out what to do.

( I was on the brink of doing this, when I was despairing about ever being able to walk at my dog at 'normal' times of the day...
but then apparently the training started to sink in & Rumo started to mellow out...he is pretty OK now as long as he is below "threshold".
i.e. For calm dogs we can pass fairly close, with a bit of air-sniffing, but for excited lunging dogs, I have to keep him pretty far away from them!)
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-16-2018, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSDchoice View Post
Wow, as a service dog then you do need to take it seriously!

Maybe worth a private session with a trainer,
so they can observe him and see what his motivation is...
if you know WHY he's doing it, then you could figure out what to do.

( I was on the brink of doing this, when I was despairing about ever being able to walk at my dog at 'normal' times of the day...
but then apparently the training started to sink in & Rumo started to mellow out...he is pretty OK now as long as he is below "threshold".
i.e. For calm dogs we can pass fairly close, with a bit of air-sniffing, but for excited lunging dogs, I have to keep him pretty far away from them!)
Ah, well the thing is he is with a trainer, that's where I got him. He's being board-trained but I take him home for at least a week out of every month. He's possessive because he's an insecure baby and he's very attached to me.
Her goal is for him to be fully trained and graduate by the end of July, and I'm trying to work on his listening skills when he's at my house.
He went back to her house a couple days after my original post, so I can't try the umbilic leash method with him until next time he comes. But maybe (hopefully) he'll be better about listening by then
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