10 month old is extremely dog reactive?? Rant. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy 10 month old is extremely dog reactive?? Rant.

I've only had Charlie for a couple of weeks now. The breeder I got him from had reduced his price significantly due to his age. She had planned on giving him to her mother but there was a change of plans due to her hip surgery. Anyway I wanted to adopt at a younger age because I wanted to socialize the dog properly. I also really want to participate in things like agility, obedience, etc. She claimed he was well socialized with other dogs and she had good reviews. So I decided to just give him a go...

I ended up with the worst case scenario. I can't go on walks without him lunging and screaming at other dogs. He's 10 months at 78 pounds. I'm a 124 pound female so he pulls me along for the ride. It's so embarrassing. He's even pulled out of his harness which is usually on pretty tight. The first time I took him in Petsmart he made a huge scene, lunging at all the dogs and knocking things off shelves. One being one an employee had just organized. It was so strange though because when I met with the breeder at her home, there were many dogs around of all sizes and he was just fine. When he's not being reactive he's amazing. He's housebroken, does pretty good on a leash, and he's good with people. It's just this dog issue that's so frustrating. I also recently noticed he treats small kids the same way he does dogs which is even more concerning. The breeder had small kids as well so I don't know why he's acting up now. I'm planning to get him neutered in hopes that it'll mellow him out. I'm also taking him to obedience classes where he acts up as well since there are other dogs there. Even the trainer said she doesn't think he's been told "no" his whole life.

I'm trying to stay hopeful but I'll seriously be shocked if I can get him under control. And sorry my pic uploaded sideways.
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 02:52 AM
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Congratulations on the new puppy! Understand that this is not at all uncommon. Lots of puppies and dogs experience leash reactivity toward other dogs or people or kids.

There are several causes, fear, excitement, barrier frustration etc., but the solution is usually the same...obedience! Your puppy may never have had, or only infrequently had, a leash on previously. They can feel a bit trapped by the leash. But the good news is, in most cases, it's not too hard to get them over that shock and teach them how to behave!

What you need is a good balanced, GSD experienced trainer to help you! Chances are they'll be able to help you teach your dog to walk nicely and behave in just a couple sessions.

If you tell us where you're located roughly, chances are someone here can recommend a good trainer for you.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 07:36 AM
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So, he's 10 months old. That's the time when they're royal pains in the neck as they're testing their authority with you and everyone around them. Your job is to tell them YOU have authority in all matters, and YOU are boss lady with everyone around the two of you.

How do you do that? You'll see it mentioned hundreds of times on this forum: NILIF: Nothing in Life is Free. This means your boy must accomplish some task, however small, to get what he wants. If he wants to go outside, he must sit by the door until you say he's allowed to leave. If he wants to meet a person or dog, he must sit off to the side quietly until you give the okay (which right now would involve no greeting at all). If he wants his food, he has to do something to get the food (sit, lay down, dance on two legs, you choose).

Everything now requires work on his part. Working with you thus gets him what he wants.

You're also going to work on the power of "no!". "No!" is now your word for whenever he doesn't do what you asked. And when you say "no", you're going to say it like you mean it. Say it like you're a cop telling someone what to do--leave no room for argument. If he refuses to listen to you, refuse to give him what he wants. GSDs want to please their leaders, and when they start to see you as the leader, "no!" makes them very submissive and apologetic. (You can find other ways to correct the dog, but I'd ask a trainer for that advice).

This will help assert your authority and start to cut down on some of his over-emotional reactions to dogs. In terms of addressing the reactivity problem, I'd hire a trainer. Until then, give the following a go:

1. Get rid of the harness and get a collar that will offer more corrective power: martingale or prong would work well. Research on how to properly use these collars, and that will give you more leverage and reduce his ability to pull you over. Harnesses encourage pulling (why do you think they put sled dogs and weight-training dogs in harnesses?), and we don't want to encourage that anymore.
2. Stop taking him to PetsMart for the time being. It's a crowded place with people and things everywhere, and crowded places are a disaster for reactive dogs.
3. Put as much distance between Charlie and other dogs as possible. Find the line where he stops reacting (i.e. stops focusing and waiting intensely). Make him sit. Do not let him get up. If he gets up, give him a strong "no!" and put him back in a sit.
4. When he sits quietly and the dog passes, praise him with great praise. He just won the lottery. You can give him treats, but praise works excellently when a bond has been established.
5. Rinse and repeat, moving closer over time. Only move close when he consistently shows he does not care about the dog moving by. Encourage him to look at you while he's sitting down.

But again, get a trainer to help you out with timing and body language.
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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 10:09 AM
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It's great that you're going to an obedience class. Are you seeing a balanced trainer who is accustomed to working with GSDs and working dogs--not all training methods work with all dogs or breeds. What is your trainer's plan to correct his behavior? If your trainer seems unsure of how to help you, or you're not getting very good results, you could share your location and someone here might be able to recommend someone, or you could look for IPO/Schutzhund/GSD clubs in your area.

What does the breeder say? Since you've only had him a couple weeks, will they take him back if it's not the right match? How do you react when you see another dog or child? Try to be calm and confident and visualize success. If you get nervous or tense, gasp, stop breathing, tighten the leash, ect, dogs can pick up on that and react. GSDs are really good at picking up on our emotions. I also would pick a good collar over a harness. Although they are controversial, I have had decent results using a prong collar with a reactive dog. It could help give you a sense of confidence and control. But you should have a working dog trainer (or someone experienced) confirm that it's a good idea in your situation and show you how to fit and use one.

Keep working on his basic commands at your house and in your yard. When he is strong in those areas venture out to somewhere more distracting, like a quiet place in a park where he can see people but you're not too close. Work up to areas that are more public and crowded.Be vigilant when you are out. Be calm and matter-of-fact when you see a dog approaching, give your boy a leash correction right before he reacts (lowered head, fixed gaze, hackling, ect). Then re-direct him with a command like sit or heel or watch me, and reward him when he obeys. Timing is really important and a good trainer can help you. Good luck! I hope things get easier.
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Last edited by sebrench; 12-10-2018 at 10:14 AM.
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 10:20 AM
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You need private training lessons. Not a group lesson. He sounds like he's never been socialized off the property and never been taught manners. Hes not bad. He just doesnt know.

Where do you live? Someone can probably suggest an appropriate trainer.

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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 11:27 AM
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Neutering is not a cure all. Do some research first.

Snitches get stitches.
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 12:10 PM
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I to would suggest a private trainer route and yes neutering will not change anything. Maturity helps to connect the dots and a trainer will help with those dots.
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 05:22 PM
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The Collared Scholar has an online reactivity course. I do not know when the next one opens. I am beyond pleased with the experience. Finding an in person good trainer never worked out for me. Love, love, love The Collared Scholar.
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 06:22 PM
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Apex, what did the Collared Scholar do that was different than other trainers you've seen or worked with? I've read her stuff, and frankly, she seems like she is still struggling with some major issues with her own dogs.

OP- if you post your location, people on the board can help locate a GSD experienced trainer to help. I'm betting this problem can be solved fairly readily.
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 07:13 PM
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Another thing that works really well and I worked with max a lot on wAs “leave it” it worked the best and is ingrained in Max who does not care for other dogs. Good to learn “leave it “and know the command well with smaller distraction and then build up.

We were at the park in trails and I was caught off guard with max and Luna both on leashes -when a friendly rambunctious huge young dog came bounding over to us looked like a yellow lab but not and had no ears. The dog went Nose to nose with max and max jumped on him- just jumped - I called max off and then I got my crap together and the dog came over again- got my second chance - as the owner continues to walking away- calling the dog who was sweet and friendly but ignoring the owner. I said the magic word “leave it”and max just stood there ignoring this dog calmly as the dog sniffed his mouth, nose and butt. Max seemed to have not a care in the world. The dog came back yet again and max was so so good I was very proud of him. Luna had lost her mind though. She does not like strange dogs charging in her face but she always listened and had no issue with dogs. I don’t know if because she had her heat a few weeks ago. By the third visit from this dog she got her brain back. Even though the owner had continued walking away the entire time all I got was as he shouted out he is only 8 months old. I got to practice leave it with max at that encounter and it paid off with max.

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