Help! We are at a loss. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Help! We are at a loss.

We have a 1 year old German Shepherd pup. He turned 1 on November 16th. At home, he is obedient, loving, calm (mostly, I mean he's still a puppy) and all around just a great dog. He's extremely intelligent and has picked up on a lot of things that we never even had to train him to do. I've had dogs all my life with my parents and I've always trained our dogs (all golden retrievers) and never had an issue with this... Our dog (Indiana) is EXTREMELY people aggressive. but only with strangers, and mostly on walks. Its absolutely a fear thing, because people who are willing to stop and work with us end up getting licked to death in about 5 seconds after Indiana has decided they are safe. Another thing is he walks on a leash fine in the home, but as soon as we get him into a different environment, he pulls and cries and barks and carries on. We've spent hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars on trainers and obedience classes and vet visits and we are out of money and patience. I would never get rid of him but I hate not being able to walk him by myself (he's too big for me when he pulls) and I want people to be able to pet him and say hello on walks... or at least walk without putting the fear of god into other people on the trail!! Please help! I will answer everything as best I can. He was just fixed the other day and we had a bad day at the vet which is why I'm here. The vet literally looked at me and said "how do you expect me to work with this?" and walked out of the room. He really is a sweet loving boy. Its so hard to watch him be so aggressive.
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 03:14 PM
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I am not sure how you correct a fearful dog which is what he sounds like.

He must understand that YOU are taking him for a walk, not the other way around. He should not be able to be naughty in any way or we are not moving forward.

I think I would try running him pass those situation and not stopping and see how he acts and move ahead from their.
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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 03:23 PM
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Oh man...the vet I'm sorry your vet did that instead of finding a solution like muzzling him.

What kind of training have you done? Was it all positive? If so, your dog needs a balance to understand what behavior is acceptable and what isn't. I've seen many reactive dogs that are all positive trained who have never gotten over their issues because they were never told No! You will not behave like this!

You can correct for bad behavior. Not the fear but the behavior. Your dog reacts, you tell him Sit. He ignores you. You CAN correct for disobeying the command Sit and that IS what he will understand. Once he understands that, then you can move on to behavior modification for the fear, which it sounds like he is perfectly capable of doing.

Fearful dogs are hard and exhausting. I feel your pain. Where are you located? I know you have already spent a lot on trainers but maybe someone can recommend one for you that will work.




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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 05:08 PM
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Well first I would find a new vet, that is just not cool.

I am not a trainer, not an expert and according to some folks on the forum neither bright nor sane, so take my advice for what it's worth

I can only tell you what worked for me. Everyone hates my dog. My husband refused to live with her, we went through half a dozen vets, trainers won't touch her.
She is sweet, well mannered and friendly as heck. At home where she is comfortable. Out in the world she is a disaster. She pulls, she lunges, she pitches fits that rival those of the most unruly toddler, shrieking, screaming, throwing herself on the ground. She snaps at people, she barks and snarls at other dogs.
I have a bit of an advantage over you. She is barely 50lbs, I can pick her up.
I conditioned her to a muzzle, step 1. She wears a basket muzzle in public and an exam muzzle at the vets. It is part of her routine, she understands that and she is fine.
We worked really hard on focus, step 2. Look at me, watch me. She is conditioned to focus on me when crap gets her worked up outside. So if another dog pops into our view she immediately looks at me. We also worked on thresholds. How close is too close? When we started if she could see it it was too close, yesterday morning we had a loose dog 10 feet away challenging her and although she did bark back a few times, she held her sit and stayed mostly focused on me.
I walk her on a prong collar most often, step 3, although lately we have just used her martingale and she is fine. Since no one else would help me I reached out to a member here on the forum. He helped me immensely to learn how to fit and use the prong and was an awesome resource. The prong allowed me to quickly and properly correct poor behavior and actually relaxed her so she could enjoy the world.

One of the issues with fearful dogs is that they work themselves into such a state that learning is impossible, that was where the prong helped me. The other thing I learned was about stress. If we had an incident or a really bad day I learned to skip the walks for a day or two to allow the stress hormones to dissipate and her body get back to level.


If you can work with a good trainer it would help, the problem there is more bad ones then good ones so if someone on here has a recommendation perhaps that will point you in the right direction.
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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 07:16 PM
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Pet owner here, not an expert.

It seems to me you have two issues, your dog being insecure in unfamiliar environments, and fear of strangers. I'd have a 'time out', get to enjoy and have fun on walks and with each other, without stress and trauma. Walk him somewhere quiet and familiar, away from people, before you start working on unfamiliar environments, and fear of strangers.

If you are feeling stressed, anxious and are emotionally reacting to your dog's behaviour, Indiana picks up on that. Rather than want people to be able to pet him and say hello on walks, having him ignore people would be a more realistic training goal.
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabis mom View Post
Well first I would find a new vet, that is just not cool.

I am not a trainer, not an expert and according to some folks on the forum neither bright nor sane, so take my advice for what it's worth[IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/Germanshepherds_2016/smilies/tango_face_smile.png[/IMG]

I can only tell you what worked for me. Everyone hates my dog. My husband refused to live with her, we went through half a dozen vets, trainers won't touch her.
She is sweet, well mannered and friendly as heck. At home where she is comfortable. Out in the world she is a disaster. She pulls, she lunges, she pitches fits that rival those of the most unruly toddler, shrieking, screaming, throwing herself on the ground. She snaps at people, she barks and snarls at other dogs.
I have a bit of an advantage over you. She is barely 50lbs, I can pick her up.
I conditioned her to a muzzle, step 1. She wears a basket muzzle in public and an exam muzzle at the vets. It is part of her routine, she understands that and she is fine.
We worked really hard on focus, step 2. Look at me, watch me. She is conditioned to focus on me when crap gets her worked up outside. So if another dog pops into our view she immediately looks at me. We also worked on thresholds. How close is too close? When we started if she could see it it was too close, yesterday morning we had a loose dog 10 feet away challenging her and although she did bark back a few times, she held her sit and stayed mostly focused on me.
I walk her on a prong collar most often, step 3, although lately we have just used her martingale and she is fine. Since no one else would help me I reached out to a member here on the forum. He helped me immensely to learn how to fit and use the prong and was an awesome resource. The prong allowed me to quickly and properly correct poor behavior and actually relaxed her so she could enjoy the world.

One of the issues with fearful dogs is that they work themselves into such a state that learning is impossible, that was where the prong helped me. The other thing I learned was about stress. If we had an incident or a really bad day I learned to skip the walks for a day or two to allow the stress hormones to dissipate and her body get back to level.


If you can work with a good trainer it would help, the problem there is more bad ones then good ones so if someone on here has a recommendation perhaps that will point you in the right direction.

It’s good to hear someone on board with a little negative reinforcement. The only time we’ve had success in “training” out bad behaviors with Indy is when using negative reinforcement. He peed in the house for about 2 months after we got him at 9 weeks old until I finally stopped listening to the internet and went back to negative reinforcement when he peed or pooped in the house. He was housebroken WITHIN THE WEEK. We’ve tried ignoring people, we’ve tried running past people, we’ve tried turning around (completely useless by the way, especially when people are coming at you from all sides) we’ve tried giving treats when people are near, we’ve tried making him sit and wait for people to pass, we’ve tried socializing him, we’ve tried almost every positive reinforcement there is and nothing has worked. It’s been going on for about 6-7 months. We immeadiately got him into obedience classes when we noticed a problem but it’s only gotten worse. The only thing we haven’t tried is negative reinforcement, and that’s mostly because I’m terrified it will make him MORE afraid of people. We have a regular chain choke collar (the vet made me put it on him along with a muzzle and it was still on him after surgery. Super mad about that, but that’s another story) I just don’t want to hurt him. Sounds like if the choke doesn’t do the trick we will try a prong collar next. I hate resorting to that, but I don’t see another way out. We are located near pittsburgh, PA.
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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 09:35 PM
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oh!!!! Contact Joeri Veth in Pittsburgh
https://www.thenorthernborderboarding.com/training/

He can help you
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 10:05 PM
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Sometimes it is fear, sometimes it is just a misplaced piece in the puzzle. My gal-dog started barking at people right before her 2nd heat. She got to a time in her life when she just didn't want strangers coming to her unasked for. It wasn't true aggression. It was just gave a "keep your distance please" bark. But it looked and sounded scary. I would correct her with a tug and a firm NO. Then I'd walk her a short way and if she was calm I rewarded her...but the barking didn't get better. It took a trainer to watch me and see my mistake. My gal was connecting it all together: bark, walk, treat! The answer was so simple. If she barked then no reward even if she was calm afterwards. She only got rewards for a calm pass. We practiced with the other dogs in the class so that she could figure out the difference. It came down to my timing. We also honored her desire to be aloof and cautious. No one looks or speaks to her unless she goes up to them. Folks are fine to chat with us and she waits calmly. On restaurant patios we find a table where she can rest near a wall or under the table.

I hope Jax's suggested trainer can watch the interaction and give you some tips that work. Also remember a 1 year old GSD is like a teenager, thinking they are grown up but actually clueless about the world.

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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 10:38 PM
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"We have a regular chain choke collar (the vet made me put it on him along with a muzzle and it was still on him after surgery. Super mad about that, but that’s another story) I just don’t want to hurt him. Sounds like if the choke doesn’t do the trick we will try a prong collar next. I hate resorting to that, but I don’t see another way out."

Research has shown that the prong collar has far, far less potential for physically damaging to a dogs neck and spine or airway than a choke chain collar. It really does get a bad rap simply because of it's looks. I was one who felt that the prong collar was a midieval torture device until our trainer put it on himself and showed me it doesn't puncture the skin and cause injury if fitted and used properly. Have used one ever since when needed. Don't be afraid to put it in your box of useful training tools.

Ziva 03.07.2013
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 11:24 PM
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I will second the prong collar, it makes walks not only bearable but enjoyable with my dobe mix. It couldn’t hurt him because he goes nuts with excitement whenever I grab it. I also use a hands free bungee style leash, it’s great because it lets him know gradually when the leash is running short and prevents abrupt pulls. And instead of my arms or shoulders absorbing it, my midsection does which is way less stressful. It also has two handholds on it, one is up close for quick grabs if needed.
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