Puppy Aggression? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-09-2018, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy Aggression?

My current GSD puppy is 10 weeks old yesterday. Let me start by talking about the socialization he has had so far.

The first encounter with another dog he has had was last week when I was socializing him at Home Depot. He was completely fine, though he was looking at the other dog, he remained completely calm, did not bark, and followed sit/down commands. The next day, I decided to let him meet one of my best friend's dogs. He was a 3 month old Maltese puppy that played a little rougher. I let them meet outside my house and he instantly started barking like crazy. It was very unlike the day before at Home Depot. We let them loose to play and they seemed to be playing a little rough so we would pull them apart when we felt it was getting out of hand. Eventually, my pup calmed down and they both fell asleep next to each other.

The day after, I took him to a puppy socialization class with about 15 other puppies. Again, he was barking his head off at the other puppies so I had to pick him up and try to calm him down. Eventually he calmed down and when we all let them off leash, he played very well. He didn't play rough at all, he would do playful pawing at other dogs but for the most part, all the other puppies would play together and he preferred to just lay down and watch. There were also very crazy rough playing puppies there that would come up to him and leave to play with other dogs. So I thought I was seeing great progress

Yesterday, two days after the last puppy socialization class, I took him to a smaller puppy socialization class consisting of 3 other puppies. He of course was barking like crazy again. After a while, the trainer let him socialize with a golden retriever puppy that was on the calmer side. My pup started climbing on top of his back (the trainer called it draping) and it was very unlike how he was playing with the other puppies before. After a few minutes, the trainer let him meet another puppy that seemed to have the same play style and they both started barking aggressively and got into a scuffle. After holding them back, my puppy got into a scuffle with the other golden retriever puppy he originally was fine with.

I cannot tell if he is being aggressive, fearful or excited when he is barking at these other puppies. And now after the incident yesterday, I am even more confused. I am also confused on why his playing changed so abruptly within a few days. Any tips and help would be greatly appreciated to address the problems I'm having!
Thanks!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-09-2018, 11:27 PM
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Who runs the socialization class ? A dog trainer ?
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 12:42 AM
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First of all... Never pick up a pup when he misbehaves. Not only are you not doing anything positive or any correction, you also set yourself up to nipping from other dogs. Picking a dog up whenever there's a scuffle is highly anti-productive. And it's not like you can keep picking him up when he grows, what happens then?

He's still very young, and has already displayed such behaviour. IMO, I will get a trainer asap and work with him INDIVIDUALLY, find out more about what sets him off, what he likes, what he dislikes. Once you know him better, and can control him better, then you can implement that training into real life situation.

For example, when my dog was approaching 1 year old, he develops a behaviour where he can be toy possessive with other dogs (never with humans.) Since I'm his parent/owner, I've come to learn how to read his facial expressions, body language, and the situation that surrounds him. In other words, I've taken time to know my dog BETTER. From there, I can start working on the issue, and he hasn't been in any incidents for months.

Take time to get to know your pup better, bond with him, soon you'll be able to figure out how to avoid those situations. And try to have individual sessions instead of group sessions.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 01:09 AM
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Here's something to consider.There are many many threads on this board with this same theme.Oftentimes puppies placed in situations continuously that stress them become more reactive,not less.He really has no need for playmates.IMO you and your pup would be much better off concentrating on ignoring other dogs.Learning how to relax and focus on you in the presence of other dogs and people.You probably don't want to end up with an eighty pound dog that has rehearsed rushing and barking at every dog he sees.Think about socializing as exposure from a distance rather than up close interaction perhaps?
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 01:17 AM
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Sounds to me like a normal puppy. The crazy barking is probably excitement and the wrestling is a normal part of puppy play. Some puppies are really rough and like to harass and maul their littermates.
I'm really not a fan of this whole puppy group playdate thing. I would much rather have puppies with stable adult dogs that will teach them appropriate behavior then with a group of other hooligans learning nothing. Puppies don't know how to behave so without an adult to teach them what exactly is the point?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 01:48 AM
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Well my thoughts: the pup isn't done with his puppy shots yet and he's being taken out all over the place unprotected with all kinds of unknown other pups who may or may not be fully pup vaccinated. My two cents, wait til the core vax are complete or if you feel you must, at least minimize who he's exposed to and where.

Parvo is a much bigger problem than whether or not your 10 week old is aggressive.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 08:16 AM
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He's not being aggressive. He's being a puppy that has the sense of a squirrel in the road. Puppies at that age don't understand anything about being a "proper dog". They have no dog manners and no comprehension of what aggression is. This is why they wrestle, squabble, hump each other, bark at each other, growl, and do the most nonsensical things. They're trying to figure out what games they like to play together, and what the rules of that game should be.

Had I been in your shoes, I would have let them carry on together. The group was all so close in age, they all would be engaging in the same silly nonsense. Your puppy would have draped over another puppy, and either annoyed that puppy and gotten into a squabble or encouraged that puppy to roll over and wrestle. That squabble with the other puppy would have sorted it out very quickly and both would have learned something from it--whether or not they liked that sort of thing, what to do after not liking something, and how to tell the other puppy what they really wanted. The barking could be excitement, a crude play request (Jack still does this a little bit when he gets frustrated at a dog that won't play with him), or stress.

It sounds like your puppy is generally confident enough that he can effectively communicate to the other puppies when he's tired of playing (he laid down and they stopped initiating play). That's very good. If he weren't confident, he would have been getting bullied.

In short, let it play out. Don't worry about it. When you're all at home or out by yourselves, work on building that bond so your puppy knows he can find comfort near you if necessary but also knows he's allowed to explore and figure things out. Confidence comes from that dynamic: safety and danger. Safety in knowing there's a place he can go, but just enough danger to make the world exciting.
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