Is it a common GSD trait to bolt? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-13-2018, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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Is it a common GSD trait to bolt?

First time poster here. Please have patience with me. I am at my wits end.

I love my boy. He is amazing. He is 4 years old, friendly with all people and animals, super amazing with my 3 youngish boys and has never once bared his teeth at anyone or anything. But there is one thing I hate about him. I know it's a strong word but I am seriously just so done with him bolting out any open door or trying to break the fence pickets to get out.

We solved the problem at our last house by tethering him every time we let him out to do his business but I hated that solution and we have moved to a new house recently and need to find a new solution.

I know I need to teach him a better recall. I know we need to exercise him more and keep him busy. We do have a trainer but she's very expensive.

I am looking for answers as to whether this is a common GSD trait or not. I thought they were supposed to be protective and loyal but this joker runs away at any opportunity and it bothers me so much. We are first time GSD parents but we have had a sheltie, collie, goldie, and a rescue. The rescue is the only one who would run out but I chalked it up to her living in the streets.

Please no rude comments. I'm so afraid he'll get hurt one of these days by running into a car or rattler.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-13-2018, 11:03 PM
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Nope, Pepper likes to go out in the morning to sniff the front yard for "intruders" but never goes far. She also helps me put the trash barrel out and bring the milk in. One day she was out, forgot about her looked out and she was looking in the door with "the you forgot me" look.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-13-2018, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by truckola View Post
One day she was out, forgot about her looked out and she was looking in the door with "the you forgot me" look.
My other pups were just like that but not this guy. This is unexpected and very distressing.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-13-2018, 11:19 PM
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Yeah, this is really a training (and maybe exercise?) issue...

You need to work on obedience. Bolting out the door, any door, is just a learned behavior that you've worked around via tethering, but it sounds like never really addressed via training.

No amount of money or training will make an under-exercised dog behave! So figure out a way to meet his needs, then train him to meet yours.

There is no SILVER BULLET that will fix this problem. Change your routine...and teach him some boundaries!
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-13-2018, 11:22 PM
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The more a behavior is practiced or gets a band aid as a solution, the more ingrained it becomes. 4yrs in the making can take awhile to break depending the training technique, ability and consistency.

I would not say it’s a GSD trait.... breed aside, it’s a young, untrained, under exercised dog trait. I think you’re already aware of what needs to be done. Training and exercise...a lot of both.

Outside of isolated events (chasing a squirrel, etc), clearly something out there has become way more reinforcing to him than being at home.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-13-2018, 11:44 PM
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I vote no, it is not a GSD trait. As the others say, up the exercise, put some training on him, and give him opportunity to be a dog doing what he wants to do at his pace.

I am sure he adores your three boys but are you sure he really is amazing with them or does he tolerate all the activity? Does he have a quiet place to go when he needs a break where he won't be disturbed?

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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-14-2018, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
. breed aside, it’s a young, untrained, under exercised dog trait. I think you’re already aware of what needs to be done. Training and exercise...a lot of both.

Outside of isolated events (chasing a squirrel, etc), clearly something out there has become way more reinforcing to him than being at home.
I agree that in general, my guy needs more exercise. However, when I train to walk the half marathon, I take him with me. He's done eight and 10 milers with me and still likes to dart afterwards if given the opportunity.

I think your last statement rings true the most. I think he thinks of it as a game somehow. Especially since I freak out. Obviously after four years, we've gotten him back every time. Sometimes he would even just come back on his own while we were running after him.


Thanks for your kind response!
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-14-2018, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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I am sure he adores your three boys but are you sure he really is amazing with them or does he tolerate all the activity?

Does he have a quiet place to go when he needs a break where he won't be disturbed?
What is a good way to tell? He always wants to be around them and is very affectionate with them. We also have 2 kitties and he always tries to love on them too. You are right that we have a very active household but he is a very happy go lucky boy.

Yep, he has his bed or he could go upstairs or the study to be alone but he seems to always want to be where the action is. He has the house to himself and the kitties for the better part of the day with us working and the kids in school.

I appreciate your thoughtful response.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-14-2018, 01:23 AM
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Definitely an individual thing! Since I moved to my current property, my dogs have gotten out twice, both times when a really bad wind storm blew the gate ajar.

The younger one will just sniff around the front yard, then come back and lie on the back deck. The older one goes off exploring!

I had to retrieve her from the Humane society once. She's also the one who figured out how to let herself out of the house by opening the screen door! Got up one morning: where's my dog??

As the lock on the screen door was broken, I had to close the inner door every night after that, and when I left her alone in the house. As long as I was home, she'd stay put.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 09-14-2018, 02:41 AM
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It's more of a male dog trait than a breed trait. Especially if there are interesting things and smells around the neighborhood such as other dogs and he feels a need to mark his presence everywhere. Some dogs are also just more curious and adventurous than others. You may have to go back to your old solution of tethering or spend the money for a really secure fence and be careful about leaving any door open unattended. To me these are just standard practices for any person that owns a dog.
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